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Posted by : Miranda Jensen
Date Published: 7 August 2015

The Pace of Change
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The world is transforming at an ever increasing rate. Organisations are implementing multiple changes to keep up, they are transforming at their core. When faced with the need to change to this degree, the scale and scope of transformational change programs can be overwhelming.

In the last 50 years we’ve seen so much change in the world and at a quickening pace. Television. Computers. Internet. Mobile Phones. Social Media. In parallel there has been the emergence and development of change management as a practice. In the 1960’s sociologists were inspired by the rate of adoption of  technology in agricultural practices and so the concept of the Diffusion of Innovations was born. This theory translated directly into change management practices with the categorisation of Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority and Laggards. The focus at this time was on communication channels and started to explore themes of critical mass and the tipping point.

The Management Consulting era in the 1980’s is where the change management industry was born in earnest. As technology innovations have quickened, so has the speed of change and the need for efficient and effective adoption techniques. The idea of the ‘burning platform’ (the need or case for change to occur) was introduced and inspired new methodologies and ways of approaching change throughout the 1990’s.

The rate of change in the 2000’s for many, felt insurmountable, and with many
leaders frustrated with top down failures there was more widespread use of a change leader to manage the people side of change. In more recent years we have seen a prevalence of standardised approaches, with training and accreditation to up-skill individuals understanding of change.

There has been a trend to manage in-house with external support used to provide more of a training and support model. There has also been a recent shift to acknowledge the scope of large scale change programs as transformations of organisations.

The growing trend has been to manage change in the very structured ways that ‘project management’ is undertaken; however, this does not factor in the very unstructured way that ‘people’ respond to change.

In fact, there are as many different responses to change, as there are people in the world. Whilst there have been many very helpful ways of categorising and understanding some of the ways in which people respond to change, they are not a surefire way of understanding the many different, and unique, responses that can be experienced by people in periods of change.

In many instances of a project that was ‘backed-out’ or failed to reach implementation, there is disillusionment that ‘we had a plan’ and the plan failed, resulting in feelings of resentment and loss.  At the root of many of these failed changes there are human responses that could have been managed to better prepare for a project of the right size, time, cost, environment and engagement that would have more likely ensured its success.

Project management is a sequential, lineal, scheduling of activities to reach a clearly defined and scoped set of initiatives. The people management aspects of a project are often thought of as an activity to commence when nearing implementation. In recent years there is more of an understanding that people don’t ‘resist change’ people resist change that is ‘done-to’ them, and so a greater focus on early engagement has been adopted.

This early engagement is one of the most powerful ways to keep up with the ever increasing pace of change that we are now experiencing. Educate your staff on the value of their engagement and empower and encourage them to be part of shaping the way forward.

If your organisation is on a journey of change and you would like to learn more about the Transformation3 approach to increase change adoption. Please contact us for a chat.





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