Managing Change and Transformation
Insights for Change Success
Next Ventures have been partnering countless businesses and organisations through transformational technology implementations for nearly 20 years. Today, more than ever, we are seeing a focus on transformational change and what this means to organisations, how will they ensure successful outcomes?
We have invited an authority on Change Management to give some insights on the process and discipline of Change and Transformation, Change Management, Change Agent Networks and much more.
Our guest Melanie Franklin is an author of numerous text books on Change and Transformation, is the Chief Examiner of the Agile Change Agents certification from APMG (Agile Project Management Group) and co-chair of the Change Management Institute in the UK and can claim 30 years of experience in Change and Transformation.
Full Interview Transcript
Welcome from Joe 0:02
Hi everyone, I’d like to welcome you to our very first episode of the change network podcast. And for those of you who don’t know me, I’m Joe Brown. I work for next ventures. We’re Technology and Transformation agency, I head up the Change and Transformation desk here. And so I’m actually very pleased to introduce Melanie Franklin has very kindly agreed to give us some very valuable time this morning to give some insight into why Change is relevant for every business, every leader so Mel, it’d be fantastic if you could just give us a bit of insight as to first of all, your background and what you’re doing now really, and then we can we can kick off.
Melanie Introduction 0:42
Well, I’ve been doing a Change and Transformation for about 30 years, I was heading up projects and programme management several of the investment banks. I started as a business analyst I became a project manager programme manager and that’s how I headed up the project and programme management function. And then I moved into Transformational Change because large scale programmes are actually sort of changing organisations.
So what I do now is I work alongside boards in various different organisations around the world and I am there to support them on their change journey. Part of that is about building up the capability for change that others have in the organisation. So it is all about up skilling them working out what it is we need them to know, trying to put some of that across in a very persuasive way. I’ve written a number of textbooks on change and transformation. I’m the chief examiner of the Agile Change Agents certification from APMG International. I’m co leading the Change Management Institute in the UK. And I also head up a couple of thought leadership panels around the world on the direction of change, change leadership, change building capabilities.
Response to COVID – Joe 1:54
Fantastic, you’re quite busy lady then but you know, it’s it’s Fantastic that we’ve, we’ve got you on this podcast for our first episode. And as I say, You’ve not only got that background in, you know, the hands on actual delivery of transformation projects, but you’ve also got the expertise from a thought leadership perspective, you’ve done, you know, both books, and you did Change Management Institute as well. We’re really, really grateful to have you on here. And I’m sure that both of our networks are going to find a lot of value from from listening to this today. So thank you.
The first question I had is that is one of the kind of key topics I’ve been speaking to leaders about at the moment, which is essentially that when lockdown first came about, businesses obviously got on hold lots and lots of different transformation programmes that they felt was, you know, they were going to struggle to deliver and, you know, in a remote working scenario, basically so it’s a position now where businesses have got this backlog of projects that deliver not only ones that have been on been put on hold, but also projects that they need to do now in response to COVID. And so, what kind of what kind of changes would you advise businesses to prioritise in a situation like this?
Help Make It Happen – Melanie 3:09
Well, I don’t advise them to prioritise anything, I am definitely going to be the one that helps them make that happen. But what I am seeing in terms of their prioritisation is streamlining, automation, simplification of processes. It’s all about the cost cutting that many organisations feel they need to do. But also a recognition that when they had to get out of their offices, and everybody has stopped working from home, it really was a sort of sharp reminder that perhaps we need to be a little bit slicker in the way that we do things and messing about with lots of bits of paper and having lots of data entry by our staff isn’t necessarily the cleverest way we can do things. So I think coming into September, after these, whatever summer break people are going to have, I think there is a real move towards a good tidy up.
There’s certainly been a move out of the office. Let’s try and get things done. And people have done tremendously well on that there’s been a great deal of productivity. But the restructuring that I think will go further isn’t just the automation. I think that will lead to to a revamp of the target operating model for some organisations, particularly having had the shock of, well, we’ve furloughed a number of staff, and actually we’re living without them, which I think is a big concern for those who’ve been furloughed. And the decision on who to return back to the office or in fact, returned back to the workspace. So I think a restructuring is likely to be a part of whatever happens coming up in the next couple of months.
What’s The Focus? – Joe 4:40
I suppose what you mentioned about kind of top tidying up there is quite important. I feel like a lot of businesses at the moment are really thinking about Okay, what what is actually adding value right now to our business, and then kind of taking out everything that doesn’t fall in that category. And so obviously, you’re suggesting that a lot of businesses at the moment are doing the streamlining of processes, the automation and do you think that that should be should be a focus for organisations today? kind of look at their processes and streamline it at the moment, or do you think, it depends on business?
Keep An Eye on Costs – Melanie 5:16
Well it definitely depends on the business. But I think if you look back at other recessions, so if we look back at 2008 to 2011, one of the discussions I had in a boardroom about eight weeks ago was exactly this point, which was that your customers might not be in a position to pay for excess amounts of things. So in terms of they won’t value for money, unless you streamline unless you get a grip on your own cost base, can you genuinely deliver that value for money?
That doesn’t say that customers don’t still want innovation? Because they do, but I think we have to recognise that perhaps. When it comes to recessionary times. It is about being slicker in terms of what you deliver, knowing what your costs are keeping an eye on eradicating those costs, so it’s almost like the lean mentality is going to drive I think a number of changes that are coming out.
Leading Transformation – Joe 6:15
So kind of following on from that, and I spoke to a CIO, just yesterday, actually, who mentioned that, you know, business leaders, especially in crisis, but often, you know, in more normal circumstances will adopt quite a rushed, quite a forceful approach to delivering transformation and kind of almost ignore the change management piece and equal piece. So would you say that that’s something that can work? And, and also, what would you say are the risks of doing something like that?
Crisis Driving Change – Melanie 6:44
Well I certainly understand where the CIO is coming from, because I think a number of senior executives have had this idea that while we made this change happen, we didn’t really manage it. We didn’t really plan it. It just happened overnight, and we’ve been successful. So we’re now brilliant at change. I think we’re forgetting the fundamental which is that there is a huge driver for the changes that took place around lockdown which everybody understood so if you like the urgency of the change was not in question so don’t confuse the two situations.
These changes around lockdown were driven by a very specific set of national or international circumstances, that everybody was getting played to them on the news every night, we have politicians who were doing daily briefings that created a sense of much wider social urgency to this. Now that isn’t the case, if you’ve decided that you’re going to change your target operating model, or that you’ve decided that you want to put in some kind of platform that’s going to streamline the amount of data entry in your organisation. So I think we would be naive to think that the same sense of urgency applies, and I think half my job is about how do I help people find a reason to change with this one, I didn’t have to with everything else. That becomes the sort of the starting point of do people feel that the change is valuable, worthwhile, make sense to them? Because why would they put their effort and their energy to something that they think is actually the wrong direction? So I don’t think that that element of change management has altered in any way that when it comes to organisational change, that’s what many of us in change management, do we help people find their motivation for making the change happen. I think that’s still an essential part.
What’s The Change Risk? – Joe 8:42
On the risk side of that, then so if if a business does decide in a normal circumstance, let’s say to force change on people, I think you mentioned to me the other day to do change to people rather than to do it with them so what would you say the risks of doing that?
Financial Implications – Melanie 9:01
I think there’s a financial risk that should capture everybody in the boardrooms attention, which is that we will be paying for change we commissioned tangible change. It might be an IT system, for example, where we have decided to procure a platform, and we’re going to implement it. And of course, the reasons are very sound, that we believe that we can take a lot of steps out of our process, that we can start redeploying people to other more value added tasks. So lots of good reasons for that the business case for that change, if you like. But it is predicated on the fact that that system will go into use it will become the new norm. Of course, the risk of not getting people on board with the change not getting people involved is that they don’t use the new platform. They carry on with their Excel spreadsheets, they carry on with inputting their data, and they carry on spending their time not doing the value added activities. So the organisation doesn’t get the return on investment it was expecting, not at the level it was expecting and not at the speed it was expecting it. It might dribble over the next couple of years and get some kind of improved but it certainly won’t be what they were aiming for. I think there’s the financial risk. So change management really is a value added task, because what it’s doing is it’s a risk mitigation strategy. It mitigates the risk that you won’t get the anticipated return on investment.
The other risk mitigation action that comes out of effective change management is that we actually protect our staff from spending their time on things that perhaps we don’t want spending their time on, chiefly having an exit strategy. Because when people are fearful of change, when people are worried about what’s going to happen, then they start looking at other jobs, they start looking at other careers, they start looking at doing something else in their lives. Because they think, well, it’s inevitable, I’m going to lose my job, I might as well or they start down the path of feeling incredibly stressed. So it becomes a mental health issue, which is a risk for organisations. And of course, it’s a risk to productivity because they then take time out, they then take sick leave.
So I think there is something around the human cost of change if we don’t do it well.
There’s also the immediate financial cost of not doing it well.
Change Fatigue – Joe 11:22
Absolutely. And would you say always because obviously one of the biggest challenges in change management, often dependent on the organisation, is change fatigue. Would you say that forcing change on an organisation is going to enhance that effect? Or would you say that that’s not going to change?
Don’t Overwhelm People With Change – Melanie 11:42
Well, I think all organisations are now getting to a crisis point in that the amount of change the volume of change that organisations are experiencing is, it’s huge. It’s unprecedented. And it’s not slowing down. And it’s not just the COVID crisis. This is to do with new technology. it’s to do with socio political changes. it’s to do with regulatory changes and demanding customers. Those who want greater pace of innovation all of the time, and who are constantly comparing their experience with one company with their experience of another and then go, why aren’t you doing this for me? So there’s a huge push towards what it is we’re actually sort of trying to deliver.
In my own work. I think that’s one of the most depressing things is when I know that people are becoming overwhelmed, they’re becoming fatigued by change. And they’re sort of saying, Please, can you stop the change? And I’m going, No, I can’t. Because there’s an awful lot of change that organisations are not choosing to implement. They are actually the takers from the marketplace. They really don’t have a choice. So this idea that please stop the waves hitting the beach, the King Canute defence, it doesn’t work. I spend a lot of my time working through strategies with organisations about how they can better deal with change fatigue, the most important strategy that underpins that is that people don’t feel that their organisation has got a change here or change their change that change there, that they’re going off at tangents all the time, that what we actually have to work on is that the change is a cohesive picture. And that the next thing I’m asking you to do actually follows through on something I’ve already asked you to do and it fits into something that’s coming up next. It’s almost a continuous flow but that takes real talent to be able to do that, and really quite a lot of hard work to knit the story together. So I think it’s an important thing for reducing stress, but it’s an important thing that is hard to achieve.
Contractors’ Role In Delivering Transformation – Joe 13:47
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you mentioned that you mentioned the word story that which was something else I was just about to say is, I guess, kind of bringing them in on that story, and making sure that it has a beginning and middle and an end so that everyone knows where they stand at any one point, I suppose. Yeah, that’s really good insight. A lot of businesses that I speak to they that well, in fact, most businesses use very contractor heavy themes when they’re delivering change. So obviously, talking about costs and you know, how to reduce that. So, what do you say about, you know, is it effective to have a contractor heavy team or would you suggest organisations build more in house capability?
Centres of Excellence and In-House – Melanie 14:31
I think what’s happening is that organisations are deciding to build an in house capability not because there’s anything wrong with contractor heavy teams. In fact, bringing in talented contractors to help make change happen is really important. They bring an amazing set of new skills to the organisation. But the problem that organisations are now starting to realise and I think this is something that is a product of where we are now, in terms of the volume of change. So I think this is something that’s now starting to emerge is that organisations are realising that it doesn’t matter how many people or how many consultancies they turn to, to help them with their change agenda. They have Need the in house capability for two key reasons. Number one, the volume of changes such that there is absolutely no way that they can employ as many contractors as they have ideas and ambitions. So they absolutely can’t staff from externally the huge amount of change they’ve got going.
And secondly, of course, that you actually want a capability that for your organisation changes nothing special, it’s normal, we’re really good at changing direction, putting in new systems, new processes, launching new products and services. This should be a capability that the organisation has, and I am really starting to see over the last couple of years, there’s been quite a shift. Those organisations that kind of get change management. And if you’d asked me a few years ago, an example of how they got change management would have been that they had a Centre of Excellence as sort of Central team. They had a change management sort of method or framework. They have lots of templates and they have lots of have in house resources, sort of a central team of change managers, often contractors to be fair, who they would lend out to various sort of projects and programmes. Now that Centre of Excellence is becoming something completely different, which is that it’s becoming the the owner the voice of change management, but its job is how do you develop the skills for change in every role at every level within the organisation. So that’s the really quite demanding thing.
I’m seeing that shift I it started a few years ago, and it’s now becoming something very, very common that this is how we now behave. So you might be a finance manager, you might be somewhere in marketing, but you are expected to actually be able to understand how to move from this way of working to this way of working, that you can lead yourself, you can lead your own team, you can lead your peers from one to the other. It’s now starting to become a standard skill set. So when you ask me about change is sort of something that’s relevant for every role. I couldn’t agree more. Because I think that that’s what I’m starting to see as a reality.
Evidence that organisations are starting to do this on a more organised basis that it’s now the norm for organisations to be setting up agent, networks, change agent change champions, change advisors, change ambassadors, you name it, the names are out there. I did a webinar last week in the US that had over 500 people registered for it in a very short space of time. It was all about building a change agent network and the number of questions I got five pages of questions in the first few days of registration, when I said pose your questions and I’ll seek to answer them on the webinar. And if that was an indication of just How many organisations are now trying to do this as part of the democratisation? Really, change management is not a skill for a specific small group of people over here. It’s great if you’ve got amazing experts in psychology, behavioural economics, neuroscience, you can really help me change but over here. You need this huge volume, and that’s what organisations and now starting to develop.
importance Of Change Agent Networks – Joe 18:37
Absolutely, that’s, that’s something that I’ve, I’ve come across quite a lot. I mean, it’s, it’s something that organisations have always really done in, you know, large scale transformation programme setting up change agent network because obviously, you know, if you’ve got a company that’s 50,000 employees globally, you’ve got one kind of central team, you can never understand all the different cultures yourself, you can never understand the behaviours, the motivations, the ways of working. And so that change agent network is can’t not have it. But I suppose now it’s it’s becoming more of a permanent thing. That when when that change needs to it needs to be delivered, people are ready. It doesn’t have to be done, you know, as in when the transformation programmes are being kicked off basically, that’s a really good point.
Widening Roles In Change – Melanie 19:27
I’m starting to see that flow through into job descriptions, I wonder if you are as well, which is, I was looking at job description for a change manager role today. And the expectation is that you will not only be sort of planning, managing, I think it was delivering and implementing were the four words they used for this change, but that you are also a part of skills and knowledge transfer, skills and capability building in the network of those impacted by change and the fact that that was actually being called out quite specifically, as part of your job means that now if you’re involved in change, you can’t just be managing the change, you also need to be infusing your stakeholders, perhaps helping them understand the life cycle of change the emotional impact of change while people resist change, how to motivate people through change.
So you actually have to be part trainer part deliverer now. So I’m starting to see that the role is widening. Would you agree? You’re starting to see that?
People Need To Be Engaged – Joe 20:35
Yes, absolutely. I mean, change agent networks are absolutely huge. And I’ve certainly seen it appearing in job specs nowadays. A lot of organisations are maturing in their change management function now, it’s all about making that change stick. That’s what’s really important. That’s what I’m hearing anyway, is that you know, saying up this change agent network means that whatever has been implemented, what have you brought those contractors in today’s you’ve invested in doing and it’s not going to stick unless you’ve got people on the ground continuously driving adoption and engagement on that until it just is the way of working. Especially with with transformations, intangible kind of transformations, like a cultural change, for example, you know, it’s not it’s not just right, let’s take this system out, and let’s put that in. And because then you can kind of just remove access to the other system, maybe and people use it but with cultural changes and ways of working, it has to be something that’s constantly constantly reinforced. That’s certainly what I’m finding anyway.
Neuro Hacks – Melanie 21:39
My work in the next few months is going to be all about the neuro hacks, the neuro scientific sort of tweaks that we can do that sustained behavioural change, because I think that’s the next piece for those of us who are very experienced in change management. I think we’re starting to see that that’s the expectation on our shoulders, that we are very good at creating that sustainable behavioural change. So I think the what excites me about change, right? judgement is that it is a profession that continually evolves. And that I think we owe, in part, our lifecycle to project management from many years ago, but I think we’re now starting to see that where our special space is in how we get into the heads of those that were asking to work differently.
So I think that the whole piece around neuroscience and behavioural economics and the psychology of change is just a huge sort of an amazingly interesting thing that we’re doing and I’m finding in my capability building work that a lot of what I’m spending my time doing is talking through the tips, the tricks, the techniques that help people say, oh, I get it, or oh, okay, I’ll give that a go. I’m willing to give that a go. So there’s that that moment of clarity or that enthusiasm for getting involved in the change. That’s when I know I’ve been successful. And that’s I need to replicate around 40,000 60,000 80,000 staff around the world. So that I think is the next big area of development. I think we’re only just at the start of that, but it’s a it’s an interesting one.
Neuroscience For Change – Joe 23:22
Just scratching the surface. As you mentioned, I still see a lot of organisations these days that are very old school, that they do things kind of merging, change management, project management together. And so obviously, you know, we’ll see a lot of project managers applied to my change managers roles, for example. And but obviously now, as you’ve mentioned, that the understanding of, you know, people’s behaviours, why they do things why they think it’s that ways is so much more advanced now, and actually read a book on neuroscience for organisational change by Hilary Scarlett (Neuroscience for Organizational Change) and a couple of months back now, and not just completely revolutionised, the way that that I I view change. I you know, I had no idea about what I was recruiting for until I kind of read that book and it it just goes right back to the kind of primal nature of human instinct. And in terms of, you know, why people act in certain ways, really. So yeah, absolutely. I’m seeing a lot more talk about kind of psychology and neuroscience and the applications to, to change management. That’s why I think change management is taking off as its own discipline in its own right, in such a big way at the moment.
Broad Church Of Change Management – Melanie 24:33
I think this is why when we’re looking for brilliant change managers, I think one of the key things that we’re looking for is that there’s a real curiosity about people, because actually, what you’ve just described is, how do we make change happen? It’s it goes down to how does the brain work? And if you’ve got a curiosity about building relationships, engaging with people, building trust, empathy, walking in their shoes, and wanting to curate the message you put across so that it’s most impactful. Those are an awful lot of sort of relationship building skills that I think are held by those that are sort of our real exemplars in our profession, those that can really make the difference. But, I would say that also coming from the world of project and programme management, if that is your base starts, I think you can still have an incredibly successful career in change because the other part of what I’m looking for, in a brilliant Change Manager is somebody who is incredibly organised, because the volume of work that we do, which is an awful lot of encouraging conversation, remembering to contact that personal point that benefit out requires you to process a huge number of tasks on any given day.
I know from my own experience that I call on my, my programme planning skills probably every single day to get through the workload and think yeah, I can just about do this. And, I so I do have a belief that you know, The world of change management is a very broad church. And we welcome people who come from a communications a corporate communications, background, and HR and organisational design background. Those of us who come from a project and programme management background, those of us who come from a psychology background. We’re all welcome because we’ve all got something to contribute. So I think it’s quite hard to describe the best background for a change manager, what you have to concentrate on is yet but what are you able to do?
The Skills Required – Joe 26:39
It’s so difficult, to recruit change managers that are really good because all of the skills are a lot of the skills you look for and the qualities are very intangible, you know, people skills, it’s stakeholder management is you know, does this person actually understand other people’s mindsets and the way they think, can they empathise? It’s all it’s all kind of qualities that are difficult to interview a lot of the times difficult to interview for, and whereas project management and and you know, Business Analysis and all of the very much take this out put that in, it is just that. As long as they’ve done it before it can work.
But yeah, I mean, I suppose you know, going back to, you know, having the project background and moving into the change, I suppose there’s an element also of understanding the people that you’re working with in a deeper way, understanding the project management side of things. And because at the end of the day, they’re also stakeholders that you’re going to, you’re going to have to manage as a change manager. And so, you know, having worked in a role like that before, I imagine that it would help to move into that.
Agile Change Agent – Melanie 27:46
I’m in the Agile Change Agent course that I developed for APMG. We deliberately, very deliberately tried to meet the needs of this broad church, because what we’ve done is we’ve put in one half of the course is sort of structural, it talks about all of your planning skills, all of your ability to identify benefits, I think Identify your stakeholders. And then we start to look at yes, but now you’ve got all of that how do you build relationships and creating supportive sort of working environments where people are prepared to take risks. And for me, that sort of just sums up that what you’re looking for is both that sort of, there’s sort of the structural piece alongside the behavioural piece, and the to actually have to meet together very, very well, if you’re going to be successful in making change happen.
Transformation Urgency – Joe 28:40
The other thing I want to talk about, I think we we kind of touched upon it earlier, in terms of, you know, the sense of urgency. I’ve been speaking to a lot of businesses recently, in fact, pretty much everyone I’ve spoken to has had an experience where in the last five months, they’ve delivered more change than they have in the last five years. So we touched on it earlier in that obviously, that’s partly because there’s this wider societal sense, a sense of urgency is being created by, you know, the media and everything that we’re seeing online and that sort of stuff. Would you say that there’s a way of I was gonna say replicating, but getting as close as possible to that sense of urgency to be able to deliver that change more quickly?
Driving Change – Melanie 29:20
I think coupled with a sense of urgency, I think that everybody’s also had an experience of where leaders and that’s the hierarchical leader role within their organisation have actually been far more present and have been fast swifter with their decision making, and have been closer to making things happen. And I think that if I look at the Prosci report (Change Management Methodology) that comes out every year about what’s needed for successful change management every year, top of the pile of things that we look for is sponsor engagement. And I think that the last few months have just shown how incredibly powerful it is when senior leaders getting engaged because what they do is instead of being passive and listening for progress and maybe making the out commented progresses As fast as they’d like it to be, no, no, they’ve been hands on.
They’ve been in there, they’ve been driving the agenda. They’ve been championing the change around the business, all the things that we’ve always asked them to do. And that has cut through so many governance layers, that you can’t afford to make a decision. One of my friends is the CEO of an NHS Trust. And he said to me, it was absolutely amazing that we made decisions about how we were going to repurpose certain wards, how we were going to set up so that we could allow visiting in some parts of the hospital but no visiting in other parts of the hospital. He said, we just cut through everything that we normally do where we have these ideas, but we then mould them over for weeks or months at a time and nothing really shifts. And he said I was I got in there, he said, and I was making sure these things happen. I’ve seen that in other organisations as well where I can really see when the CEO is driving the change that there is real productivity, there’s real pace behind it and other places where perhaps the changes are still going through their sort of their governance layers. And that for every sort of decision making layer, almost, you lose motivation, you lose impetus. So I think it’s not just the rationale, the sense of urgency, rationale, but it’s also how it changes organised.
This also goes to the heart of where is change management placed in the organisation you refer to earlier is, you know, often we’re aligned with project and programme management, but what we, what we really are doing, if you’re talking about transformation agenda, what you’re doing is you’re actually the the function that delivers on the strategic ambition of the organisation, and therefore we need to seat at that table. And I think that’s one of the the ongoing sort of issues with changes that perhaps we’re not at that level. I am lucky but I think I’m quite rare that I spend my time genuinely in the boardroom having the conversation about the impact of changes, how the changes are going to be managed, how they’re going to be owned and sponsored. And I am at that table, and I’m talking about change management as a risk mitigation activity. But I think that’s quite rare. But I think that if there’s any lasting change to be done, it’s a recognition for senior leaders to reflect and go, how did we survive? How did we make all these changes happen? I was quite involved in that. My direct reports were actually quite involved in that. Maybe that is the secret sauce. And maybe that’s the thing that we have to talk more about.
Mitigating Against Failure – Joe 32:57
Absolutely. I mean, I’ve certainly seen that you know, when there’s all of those different governance layers, as you said, in all that red tape to get to every layer that you go through, it’s another conversation, and therefore it’s another stakeholders opinion. And it’s another person that wants to do something slightly differently. And that’s why it can always it can always take quite a lot of time to get a strategy nailed down to the point that, you know, a business is ready say, right, let’s actually kick this off. Whereas, you know, the change that we’ve seen in the world in general, it’s just crazy. Like in train stations, you’ve got hand sanitiser stations everywhere. I mean, that that’s a that’s a massive change programme in itself, just putting hand sanitisers everywhere in every station within the space of weeks, that’s no mean feat in itself. So, you know, it’s certainly, a case of having that decision maker directly saying, let’s do this, let’s do it this way. And, you know, not having to go through with all of that red tape so, so yeah, I think that’s a really good point. So businesses I’ve found as well are often quite hesitant to change because once you once they do commit to that change, it can be hard to go back. And obviously, when a business is kind of investing quite a lot of money in in transforming something, it can be quite worrying. So what would you say businesses can do to mitigate that risk of a programme going wrong before actually investing all that money?
Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity – Melanie 34:30
Well, I think that the word agile is often used in all sorts of different ways. But I think that what we need to start looking at is that we don’t do the sort of almost the drop dead approach, which is that what we do is debate all of the potential requirements, how we might do something, look at the totality of the investment upfront and then decide, are we going to leap off the cliff? Because the world doesn’t really respond too well to that way of working at the moment because there was so much change. You know, the old Department of Defence in the US in the in the 1980s came up with this idea of VUCA volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity never was there a truer set of words to describe where we are now.
I think there is that this idea, or if you want a more academic reference, Dr. Peter Senge (author of the book The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization) was written similar things in the 1990s, which is start small. Don’t plan everything upfront, put something into operation and get the feedback, get the genuine live experience of how do people react to it? Because otherwise what you’re doing is you might be making a judgement call. I think our customers would love this. I absolutely think that this would cut our costs by 40%. But you’ve no evidence on that at all. And I think the thing is that you can go through those governance layers and everybody shares their opinion, but I’m just screaming, where’s the evidence? Give me an example. So just cuts projects down to the earliest possible work example that you can create. You can call it a pilot, a prototype an example an early on implementation. I don’t care what you call it. But can we try a little bit of it?
I’m having to build, I can’t say much about what I’m doing but I’m having to build a massive new organisation. Starting sort of now and I know that there’s some early launches planned around October time. And the one thing I keep saying is that, oh, for heaven’s sake, let’s just do do a little bit and see how it works. Let’s bring some people on board, let’s do a little bit of work. And if it goes well, because we think it will, we’ve got fantastic business case, but add a little bit more to it and then add a little bit more. You don’t have to go right out the gate with completely fully formed from the get go. And I think, actually, the way the world and the 21st century, the way the 21st century is played out. I think that that’s actually incredibly naive to believe that you can do a whole load of work back in the office, package something together and go to your customers hey, we’ve done this for you and for them to go. Oh, I’m so grateful, this is wonderful.
Surely we should do a little bit, work with the customers to see what their feedback is, see what their reaction is. And based on that, be prepared to maybe change our journey, depending on what their feedback is, because they really are the ones that count. What scares me is how few organisations that perhaps are grasping that they’re looking, they’re sitting there debating the potential pros and cons, I’m going potential or hypothetical is different to actual put a little bit of your idea into use, put it into operation, implemented it, and then find out what the real reaction is. And you can then scale it or stop it. You know, those are your choices. Whereas if you don’t, you you’ve deferred choices. You don’t stop it, you don’t scale it because why? Because you’ve gone for a full scale. Implementation costing God knows how Money and taking up so much time. So I think there’s a, I think there’s we just have to be, I think it’s a huge change of mindset. It has to reflect the fact that the world has changed. And maybe this is the moment maybe this is the moment to step back and go, actually, there’s lots of evidence that the world has changed. And maybe this is the time to rethink how we do stuff around here.
What’s Your Advice For Sustainability? – Joe 38:31
Yes, absolutely. I suppose with that agile approach, you’re going to, you’re going to lose out a lot less if something like COVID happens for example, if something happens, that just changes everything, you know, you can never anticipate something like that. But you know, at least adopting the agile approach can mitigate that loss and you haven’t invested everything at once. With agile, I certainly in the last year even, I’ve noticed agile in change management, as a discipline really, really kind of taking off. No doubt thanks to you and your course Melanie, I mean, previous to that was very much associated with it projects, as in, you know, we’ll release this part of the system or release this small application and see if that works. And but you’ve also applied that to the changes as well now, which I think is really important too.
Just going back to the the kind of Central Change Management function of an organisation and to kind of close out, what advice would you give to organisations who want to mature their change management capability and make it sustainable?
Leading With Passion – Melanie 39:47
I think that what you want to employ people who not only really understand change management, but perhaps have a passion for sharing their passion with others, that they have a commitment to building the skill set across a wide range of roles. So I think this is a conversation I’ve had with an awful lot of practitioners recently is that your job is twofold, you’ve got to take certain changes and make sure that they are pushed through in a way that we would normally see that our our skill set is required. But at the same time, are you also with every single opportunity, role modelling, and it also taking the time to explain how did you do that? So if you do the stakeholder analysis, or if you do the impact assessment, or if you do a readiness assessment, are you able to explain how you do that? Why you do it, what results you’re expecting to others? So are you constantly looking for a group of people that you can upskill? Because I think if that’s what I’m looking for, when it comes to building a change management capability, it’s about how do I, I’m going to lead by example. But the key thing is I’m going to lead others to do the same thing so that I can then move off and do something else. But I think it’s that how do you replicate and build out your capability to others within the organisation.
Thanks To Our Guest – Joe 41:16
Yes that’s really good. Melanie, I cannot thank you enough for coming on the podcast. And it’s been absolutely fantastic to have you on. I think we’ve, we’ve discussed some really interesting topics and topics that are really hot at the moment. And so I’m absolutely, you know, I’m positive, this is gonna help a lot of people in our network to get their transformations delivered. Not only that, but to make it stick as well within the organisation. So don’t forget to build your change agent networks, everyone, and it’s very important, and just build that capability so that when you leave, you know, it’s still there. So, Melanie, it’s been an absolute pleasure. Again, can’t thank you enough. Hopefully we’ll we’ll do it again at some point as well. Yeah, and that’s it. So do tune in to the next month podcast as well. Every every episode is going to be uploaded at the end of each month. So I’ve got a really exciting guest for next month as well and to be announced near the time. But, Melanie, thank you and have a lovely week.
It’s Been A Pleasure – Melanie 42:18
Thank you very much it’s been a pleasure. Thanks