July: The 10 best Change Management articles, podcasts, and videos

woman surrounded by sunflowers

Wow. A lot of great content has been produced in July, although it was a summer holiday month for many. Maybe it was a time to set creative minds to free?

This is a collection of my 10 favourite change management articles posted in July 2020. I hope that you will find them useful if you share my passion; change management. Check out my LinkedIn history to see the same lists for June and the rest of the year.

If I’ve missed something – and I most definitely have – please note it in the comment section. It will help others to more great content, and it will point me in the direction of great content.

And without saying too much, a new change podcast is about to be launched. I’ll just leave the anticipation hanging in the air.

So in no particular order, let’s get started…

ARTICLES:

1. DAVID MICHELS & KEVIN MURPHYThe Power to Change.

David and Kevin – two Bain & Company partners – have written a great article about their Change Power Index (CPI). CPI is a way to measure organizational “changeability” which they have data on from a lot of companies. 

In their article, they start by asking, “What if you could measure the capacity of an organization to adapt? How fast can it change? Where the trouble spots lie?” To create that measure, they studied how change is changing and found nine essential elements. Studying these elements not only helps management understand its Company’s current ability to change, but it also creates a blueprint for how to increase it. Together, they determine any company’s ability to change—its Change Power Index℠.

They provide excellent insights, for example, that improving a company’s Change Power one decile (for example, moving from the 50th percentile to the 60th percentile) correlates with margin improvement of 150 basis points and a climb in total shareholder return of more than 250 basis points.

They conclude that:

  • Changeability is the primary source of competitive advantage in a business environment forever shifted by Covid-19.
  • Companies can now measure their Change Power relative to others and begin to take focused action to increase it.
  • Companies with high Change Power grow faster and have stronger leaders and more engaged employees.

In a couple of related posts, they show that

  • Companies that handle change well rack up better financial performance. Top performers in Change Power enjoy 1) Nearly 2x the earnings before interest and tax margins, 2) Nearly 2x the total shareholder return and 3) Between 1.5x and 3x the revenue growth
  • Top performers in Change Power have a stronger culture and leadership and more engaged, inspired employees. Their 1) CEO approval and senior manager ratings are 20% to 25% higher, 2) Nearly 2x as many employees feel very inspired by their jobs and 3) Nearly 3x as many employees feel their Company is always more innovative than others.

Bain & Company always provide quality research and data, and this is no exception. I love numbers and data, and here is plenty in an easy to understand format. Definitely worth a read.

2. KRISTINA MARTICWhat Is Change Communication and How to Get It Right?

Kristina works for Smarp – an internal communication platform provider. She has written an excellent overview of what change communication is and how to do it well.

She defines change communication as “the informational component of the change management strategy. It helps employees and other stakeholders understand the importance and scope of the new initiatives.”.

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The four stages of change communication are:

1. Awareness — Building internal awareness through clear, timely and personalized change communication sent via employees’ favourite communication channels to eliminate or mitigate employees’ fear and resistance to change.

2. Understanding — Communicating the what, why, how, when, who as well as the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) is important to help employees understand the benefits of the change and see the positive sides of it.

3. Acceptance — In this stage, employees accept the change and act in accordance with their employer’s instructions. However, it is the employer’s job to keep employees updated, encourage their share of voice and make them feel involved in the process.

4. Commitment — Once employees accept change, change communication is not done. Moreover, this is the stage in which most change initiatives fail. Communication needs to keep flowing, employees need to be able to collaborate, and employers need to spot and reward their change ambassadors.

She then goes on and describes 11 Change Communication Best Practices to follow. Each is described in detail, some with enclosed videos or links to other resources.

As a bonus, you can download their eBook “10 Principles of Modern Employee Communications” – it’s worth a read.

I enjoyed the article because on the one hand it is comprehensive and on the other, it provides an easy to understand overview. 

3 – TIM CREASEY. 6 things we know about results.

Tim Creasey works for Prosci and is a source I always seek to find great change management articles.

In this article, Tim asks what we already know about results and how change happens. And he answers by saying that we find ourselves stepping into shifting transitions toward unknown future states.

He concludes that we can be successful when we ground ourselves in six things we know about results and change:

1. Prioritize the context. Context gives us clarity, purpose, meaning, awareness, perspective, and direction. Providing context helps others know where to spend their time, energy, and focus.

2. Understand the reason for the change. Change always begins with a reason, and we must understand it. Your job as a practitioner is to bring it forward in a compelling way. A compelling why connects with people on one or more of four different levels; A logical why, an emotional why, a visual why and the final level, story, enables you to connect with people as human beings by combining imagination, context, actions and results into a compelling reason for the change.

3. Align the two sides of change. We know that we must bring together the people side and technical sides if we want to be successful.

4. Define success. Defining success is the flag on the horizon; what we are setting out to achieve. The definition of success will change as conditions change, and we must be ready for that.

5. Focus on adoption and usage because that’s where results come from. And change does not happen by chance. We must prepare, equip, and support our people.

6. Realize the desired results and outcomes. The last thing we know to be true is that we realize desired results and outcomes if all the pieces come together. We call this the Unified Value Proposition because the value we strive for is achieving results and outcomes in times of change.

Tim has a knack for reminding us that the purpose of Change Management is to achieve results. We do not do change management because it is fun or that we are nice people. We do it to make projects successful and to achieve results. This article is a good reminder of how we keep our eye on the ball.

4. ANTONIA VIOLANTEBehavioral Scientist’s Summer Book List 2020

If you still have summer holiday left, you need a good reading list. And where better to get it than from the excellent Behavioral Scientist’ website? There are so many great books on their list, which I did not even know existed. If you are interested in psychology, nudging, change and/or popular neuroscience then check them out.

Personally, I can recommend Dan Heath’s “Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen” and Catherine A. Sanderson’s “Why We Act: Turning Bystanders into Moral Rebels” which I have read. They are both fantastic and draw on the latest findings within psychology and neuroscience. But I must admit that the others look juicy as well.

Have you read any of them which you will recommend? Any others you can recommend?

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5. AMY HAWORTHWhat Change Professionals Should Be Learning Now

Amy is the Chief of Staff, HR at Citrix and has written an interesting article about what change professionals should be learning now. Amy argues that it’s time to saturate yourself in analogous disciplines to avoid the lure to stick to what’s familiar, look downward rather than outward, and become too tied to a methodology.

She provides a shortlist of reliable resources that will ensure you are a “dot connector and a change coach that effectively dances on the changing stage of change”. They include:

  • User Experience (and outside-in thinking). User experience is often overlooked by change management practitioners, but that needs to officially come to an end. There’s way more similarity than difference between these two fields and change can benefit from the way UX puts the human at the centre of every decision.
  • Brain Science. As we increasingly learn why people do what we do, it’s more important than ever to learn how the human brain works.
  •  Resilience. People don’t need a communication plan; they need a new waterline for their capacity to change and deeper empowerment over their responses.
  •  Really Step Away. The real insights come when you’re completely out of your element. For ideas about organizational problems – spend time with an educator. Have a big deadline? Try improv. Looking for a fresh take on org structure – watch NASCAR or observe the kitchen of a busy restaurant.

For each of the four areas, Amy has provided links, tips and suggestions of resources to get more information, be inspired and learn to improve as change professionals. Thanks Amy.

6. CHRIS MUSSER & SHERZOD ODILOVDisruption Gives You Momentum for Change — Don’t Waste It.

In this article from Gallup, Chris and Sherzod argues that

  • During a crisis, people are less resistant to organizational change. People are resistant to change under normal circumstances and feel a strong sense of psychological ownership for the status quo. But during times of crisis, people tend to consider organizational change necessary and justified during crisis events. That is why leaders in the top echelon capitalize on crises to spark organizational change.
  • The best leaders lean into disruption and spark much-needed changes. Instead of wishing a crisis away, world-class leaders lean in and ask, “Which organizational change(s) should we prioritize?”
  • Use a decision matrix to decide which changes are urgent and important. Chris and Sherzod suggest using the classic importance/urgent matrix to decide which changes to focus on. The two questions to focus on are 1. Importance: How significant was the issue (problem or opportunity) at hand before the crisis? 2. Urgency: Has the crisis made addressing this issue more urgent or less urgent? Once leaders have prioritized potential change initiatives, they must lead the change effort. Strong leadership is one of the most important predictors of successful organizational change.
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Gallup has identified seven principles leaders can use for effective change management:

  1. Clearly articulate the vision for change.
  2. Involve the right people: limited vs broad involvement.
  3. Communicate the right information at the right time.
  4. Always account for resistance to change.
  5. Celebrate short-term wins without declaring premature victory.
  6. Effectively anchor the change to the organization.
  7. Always plan for change to be “the only constant.”

The Important/Urgent matrix is not new, but I am a fan of well-tested – even old – tools which have stood the test of time. To use it now and as a way to allocate resources to change projects is a good idea. 

7. DAVID MILLERThe trouble with digitization – how to overcome internal resistance to digital transformation

David is the CEO of changefirst, and I always read his posts – they give me something every time. In this article, David talks about resistance to digital transformation.

Davide argues that at the most fundamental level, digital transformation in any company means a change to job roles. While not necessarily everyone is affected, a percentage of your employees will be facing a change in their day-to-day working pattern due to digitisation. It is this expectation of change that very often causes underlying resistance.

Digitisation benefits for the company are accompanied by uncertainty and fear of change for individuals. The benefits of digitisation for a company are clear: greater efficiency, faster processing times, fewer errors, lower process costs, greater customer service; the list goes on. However, sometimes the benefits of digital transformation for individual employees and teams are often not so clear – and uncertainty surrounding the future often results in fear in those being impacted. Fear of changes to their job, fear of a job role change, job losses, being faced with learning new skills, new technology or new ways of working.

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So how do you put in place a plan to manage the personal impact of digital transformation and minimise the level of resistance to it?

While 100% commitment is unrealistic, there are some straightforward steps that you can ensure your project teams and leaders follow to overcome and reduce the level of resistance to your digital transformation

  1. Initial risk assessment and proactive risk management
  2. Tracking and measurement of risks & commitment
  3. Early engagement and 360˚ communication
  4. Upfront honesty
  5. Be clear on expectations
  6. Look for opportunities to reward.
  7. Follow-through

And alongside all of this, you need a tool to manage the whole process productively – one that is unapologetically digital too. 

I liked this article because it goes to the heart of the problem of digitalisation which companies must address; sometimes, the company benefits but the employees experience fear and uncertainty. Let’s make sure we have an eye on both.  

VIDEOS:

8. PARTH KHANNAAgile Change Management for Life Sciences Leaders

I stumbled upon this video/podcast from ACTO – a healthcare software provider. In this episode, Parth Khanna, CEO of ACTO, speaks with Spencer Holt, Head of Commercial Learning Innovation Center at AstraZeneca, about agile change management and digital transformation of commercial learning experiences in life sciences.

It is a relatively long conversation – about 46 minutes – but it is well worth it. Spencer Holt has many insights into agile change management, which is a key interest for me. He argues that because of the volume of change, we need to move away from plan and predict to be more sense and respond. What that means and how that looks, you can see for yourself in this good video. 

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PODCASTS:

9. THE CLIENT EXPERIENCE COLLABORATIVE PODCASTChange Management in Professional Services.

This is episode one in a two-episode series (episode two is also available) titled “Change Management in Professional Services”.

In this episode, host Blake Godwin as well as two Client Experience leaders (Steven Keith (CX Pilots) and Ryan Suydam (Client Savvy) discuss change management within professional services firms. Their strategies and remedies provide insights into how the firms can successfully implement change throughout their organizations.

10. THE CHANGE MANAGEMENT PODCASTEP6: Embedding Change

The Change Management Podcast is made by the University of South Wales, and it takes a deep dive into thinking clearly during times of change.

In this episode, the podcast asks a really interesting question: is it easier to adapt and make changes when there is a crisis (such as the global pandemic)? Dr Louise Bright is joined by Dr Arthur Turner from The Professional Development Centre. In this episode, they’ll be discussing embedding change within teams and organisations.

They argue that people respond and galvanise to a purpose. Sometimes with a change, you are pressured into it. Leaders need to think more about what is happening. There needs to be a balance and reflection, to make the correct decision.

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