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The Future of Change & Change Management: Emerging Thoughts for Change Leaders

8th February 2017 | Sarah Coleman, Bob Thomas

Ira Blake Shares Her Thoughts on the Emerging Challenges for Change Leaders

Organizational Change Explained (9780749475475)As change managers today, we have access to more information than ever before and the amount of available information is growing exponentially. As a profession, our collective competency is higher than ever. However, many organizations say that change is not done well and/or the leadership of change is lacking and/or that change isn’t happening fast enough. Why is this?  

Here are my 4 hypotheses about the new era and what is re-shaping our understanding of organization change and our practice of change management:

1. Business and project success depends on the adoption of and commitment to change by the people in an organization. The mantra ‘people resist change’ is a corporate myth. Neuroscience studies in organizations tell us our natural ability to learn is often stifled and over-ridden. Too much information and our brains start to shut down. I believe t’s how we perceive and are allowed to process change that determines resistance. Disengaging from change may be a capacity issue and not necessarily a cognitive or emotional reaction.

2. New workplace paradigms and drivers require change managers to make a fundamental shift to the way that we work. Organizations are becoming more agile and planning horizons are more short-term and emergent. Outcomes are less clearly defined and a series of iterative impacts means that people in organizations experience a persistent state of change. A set of complex drivers, including technology-enabled connectivity, millennials in the workplace and blurring of lines between work life and home life – requires organizations to accelerate new ways of working or be left behind.

3. New workplace models and ways to engage people are needed and change managers will need the skills to leverage new technologies. Organizations must seize the opportunity to design in individual factors for success. The operating landscape in an organization will influence how effective people can be. Do they have the best equipment? Is the right infrastructure in place to give them the best chance of success? By understanding the enablers and constraints to individual success, we also gain insight into the most significant determinants of change and organization success

4. A new psychological contract is required characterized by diminishing hierarchical power, a culture of permission and individual courage. For line managers, this requires a massive shift in focus – from performance measures to individual contribution. The biggest condition for success is, ironically, what may be the biggest gap… trust. With every innovation, comes risk and no-one is going to take a risk unless they trust, and are trusted by, their immediate and senior managers.

The era of ‘expert’ managers is over and successful change will depend on releasing the change capability of employees and resolving associated challenges while maintaining the strategic direction of the business. The amount of change organizations can achieve will be limited only by people’s collective ability to absorb change, existing bandwidth and workload.

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