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Knowledge is the first doorway towards change.
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People resist change when these priorities are not met

Do you have high expectations of your employees?

Well, I come from a culture where there are high expectations for both kids and adults. Now, I get a lot of parents who come to me and say, “I want to change my son or daughter. I want them to study more. I know that they can become a doctor or an engineer. I just need them to study a bit more. How could I change them?”

One particular mum came up to me and asked me these exact questions, and when I prodded a little bit more, I found out that her and her husband had recently split up. The boy was very withdrawn. He would stay in his room for a long period of time. He wasn’t studying.

The boy was naturally a very smart young man, but he just wasn’t performing. How the mother would react was she would ground him and his father would take away his phone and take away his video games. By reacting this way, they thought they were giving him more of a chance to study, but, unfortunately, when it came to his end-of-year exams, he didn’t even show up.

What happens is when we’re trying to expect so much of our kids or employees, there’s this hierarchy of priorities that we first need to address in order to get them to excel. This hierarchy is called Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and what Maslow says is that a person can’t excel if those basic needs are not met.

The first need is survival, so knowing that I have food and shelter. Once that’s met, then I need to make sure that there is safety and security. This young boy had his entire life jeopardised, and he did not feel secure because everything had changed.

Maslow’s hierarchy then state that once we have the security, then we go up a level, and that level is belonging. “Do I belong in a social circle? Do I belong with my family?” And this poor boy, at this stage, didn’t feel like he belonged. Where did he belong? With his mum, or with his dad?

Once we feel like we belong, then it’s about our self-esteem. Are we confident in our capabilities and ourselves? Once we have that self-confidence, then we can achieve that self-actualization, where we can, in fact, perform at our best, where we can be creative, we can problem-solve really well. And only when all of those basic needs are met can we then excel and meet these expectations of our parents and our employers.

So, next time you have high expectation of your staff or of your kids, think, are their basic needs met first?

When you bring in a new change at work, do your employees feel security in their roles or is this new change making them feel that their job security is jeopardised?

Do they feel engaged and have a feeling of belonging within this change?

Do they have confidence that they can take on this change and run with it or are they doubting their own self confidence?

We can’t expect our employees to reach the top, if we haven’t secured the bottom foundation for them to climb on.

It takes an entire organisation to make change happen

In my last article ‘Why change management is becoming a bad word’, I brought up five factors that need to change in order to prevent the further downfall of change management. In the next few articles, I will be breaking down these points in more detail.

In this article, I would like to discuss the need for organisations and change professionals to start building internal change capabilities in order for change to be successfully implemented and sustained and it looks like I am not alone in recognising this need. A recent study, where CMO representatives were surveyed, highlighted that building a foundation of strong organisational capabilities was crucial to CMO success, with 98.75% of participants selecting that a successful CMO needs to built on a foundation of strong organisational change capability.

So what is the impact of under-developed change capabilities on 1) managers, 2) leaders and 3) the organisation.

  1. Impact on managers: Managers with no change knowledge or tools will experience change fatigue.

Imagine if a ship captain goes out to face an ocean for the first time. The only thing the captain is given is the ship’s manual. He is responsible for the lives of 10 new crew members who have never gone out to an ocean of this size. Then a storm hits. The crew panic. The captain has no idea how to empower or motivate any of them into action. What will the result be? 1) Each crew member will hide out in their cabin, leaving the captain to fend off the treacherous waves until the storm passes, which will lead to an over-worked, exhausted captain. 2) The crew will all run around trying to do something with no direction eventually running out of motivation and hope, while the captain still tries to fend off the waves by himself, because let’s face it, he has no time to talk them through it now, leading to an over-worked, exhausted captain. 3) The storm becomes too big for the captain to take on and the entire ship and its crew sink.

This is exactly what we do to managers when we throw them in the deep end of a change project and expect them to know how to take their teams through it seamlessly. Like leaders, many managers rise to their positions due to technical expertise or meeting their KPIs. Then they are hit with a major change project. It could be a restructure or a systems overhaul or changes in performance measurements or a relocation. The change professional hands them a manual and waves them goodbye at the shoreline as the team and their captain steer off into the unknown. The manager has not proactively taken the time to find out how to navigate through unpredictable waves, they don’t know what motivates each of their team members towards change, they have not taken the time to understand their fears or limitations when it comes to change or each team member’s unique strengths and skill-sets which can help the crew navigate the sea.

Building managerial change capabilities before major changes, leads to a team that can seamlessly take on any change project regardless of its complexity.

Opportunity for change professionals– Start working more closely with managers to help them understand their teams and provide them with tools and strategies to engage and empower teams through the change process.

2. Impact on leaders: Leaders with minimal understanding of human behaviour and motivation, will not welcome the importance of role-modelling during change.

Whilst the number one challenge in change management is constantly reported as a ‘lack of executive support and active sponsorship’, I would take it a step further and say it is not enough to have executive support, we need executive role modelling. Even if leadership are “supporting” the change, when it comes to implementation, many continue in their old ways. An example, is commonly seen during implementation of an ‘open-plan’ setting, where the leader speaks about the importance of breaking silos, yet they remain in their corner office with the door shut. Another example, is when organisations boast of a new culture that promotes professional development, yet leaders refuse to allocate a sufficient budget for their team’s professional development.

Many leadership positions are based on technical expertise and on meeting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and rarely on how to motivate others towards positive change. However, leaders cannot be blamed. If they have not been equipped with knowledge on human behaviours, what motivates teams, what intrinsically drives people towards change, how can they be expected to take others through the change journey? This is not a matter of leadership training (that’s a given), it’s about delving deeper into what drives teams towards change and what they can do as leaders to drive change.

Building leadership’s knowledge of how to drive teams towards change creates a culture of empowerment and role-modelling, which ripples throughout the entire organisation.

Opportunity for change professionals: Showcase evidence to leaders and executives on the importance of alignment throughout the organisation.

3. Impact on the organisation: Lack of awareness of the complexity of change leads to conflict within the organisation

While change professionals are aware of the complexity of changing mindsets, behaviours, habits and processes, the priorities and views of other teams, managers, leaders is often different. Many view the change aspect as an after thought, a ‘nice to have’ or ‘let’s tick that box’. One change management recruiter said, ‘we are often asked for change managers in the middle of a project or if we’re lucky a few days before its commencement’.

The lack of awareness of the complexity of change, leads to a lack of prioritisation of the change aspect ultimately leading to misalignment
between departments and even leadership.

For example, conflicts commonly arise between project managers and change managers, because each have a different level of awareness of the complexity of change and hence prioritise different aspects of the change initiative. A project manager primarily focuses on the project scope, requirements and measures, while the change manager focuses on the people side of the change. If change capabilities were built throughout the organisation, project managers and change managers can better align the needs of the people with the needs of the project rather than seeing these as conflicting. Once both determine a common set of priorities, they can start working through them more collaboratively.

Building internal change capabilities creates a unified understanding of the need to facilitate change and leads to a collaborative approach to change implementation.

Opportunity for change professionals– Start building an internal understanding of the complexity of changing human behaviour and the impact this has on project outcomes.

The Change Hub Blog
Why Change Management is becoming a bad word.

This is what five people, with different roles, from different organisations had to say about their change management experiences.

‘Change management is a bad word around here, we’ve been through 14 change managers in the last 2 years and every single one has failed. We’re kind of scarred!’ – Head of Transformation 

‘I have never come across a good change management approach… hold on (thinking)… nope! Every single time it has been a new person, who is overwhelmed and is so consumed by ticking boxes, but hasn’t actually provided any real benefit to the project!’ – Project Manager

‘I have seen a lot of top-down approaches to change, but never any granular bottom-up approaches that have truly brought people onto the change journey.’ – Head of Risk

‘Oh the change manager- yes they’re the person who sits a bit far, who always comes around asking us to fill in spreadsheets. We don’t interact with them much beyond that.’ – Agile Coach

‘I constantly face resistance from teams, who don’t get why we need a thorough change plan.’ – Change Manager

This is an unfortunate, but real problem that the change industry is currently facing. Whilst there are many examples of change management being done exceptionally well, there is significant opportunity for improvement – which is especially worrying when change managers may be responsible for taking entire departments and sometimes entire organisations through major change transformations.

I’ve worked with over 300 teams to implement change, I did a PhD in change behaviour and implementation research, interviewed leaders and change makers and have been teaching change concepts at university for the last year and from my observations and experience, these are the 5 biggest changes that change management needs to embark on.

The 5 major changes needed for change management

1. Change managers need to stop doing all the planning

Current change qualifications take you through a five-day training course, then Ta-da you’re ready to take entire organisations through large-scale transformations. After analysing the course content, I found a major focus on putting together a change plan for the project. Whilst the planning step is crucial, it is only one aspect of change implementation. Another problem arises when the change manager is putting together the entire plan for other teams? Even though the change manager asks teams to fill out the perfectly prepared templates, yet how are teams perceiving that process? Is it a tick-box approach just to keep the change manager off their backs or is it seen as a collaborative approach where the teams work together to co-design the plan from the beginning?

The theory is well known- ensure all stakeholders are involved. I argue this doesn’t cut it! When it comes to the change process, we need to go from passive involvement to active engagement.

2. Start building internal change capabilities & start with the why

Roy Ashkenas, co-author of The Boundaryless Organisation wrote an article in the Harvard Business Review saying that, ‘While the content of change management is reasonably correct, the managerial capacity to implement it has been woefully underdeveloped.” 

A change manager may understand why a change plan needs to be completed and the complexity of change behaviour, change processes and change adoption, but those who are being asked to implement the change plan have none of this knowledge. So naturally, they will resist.

Prosci’s ADKAR model starts with ;Awareness of the change’ being implemented. This implies that the decision has already been made and teams have to start adopting the change. The reality, however, is that this leads to increased resistance and reactive approach in dealing with concerns. We need a more proactive approach to prevent resistance. We need to start by building awareness of why we need the change. Our research shows that when teams are aware of the need for change, they are less likely to resist change. It means ‘starting with the why’, rather than the ‘what’.

3. Moving from outcome-driven change to process-driven change

I was once speaking to a head of change to discuss how we can build internal change capabilities, the response I got was, ‘but we met the mark in terms of scope and requirements’. Why is it that these are the only measurements of change? What if the process to reach the scope and requirements was so poor that you lost highly valued employees on the way? What if the process of reaching the scope and requirements meant that everyone ended up resenting the change by the end and will not be committed to sustaining it?

When I was young, I was told to rote-learn, it led to great marks (temporary outcome), yet I hated the process of learning (long-term outcome). I never really tried to understand what I was learning and when the exam was over, that content was out within a day to make room for new content to remember. It has taken me years to undo that damage. I have had to reshape my way of thinking, to understand growth mindset, to develop a love for learning and a curiosity to know more. Now for my 3.5 year old, I do my utmost to make the learning process fun, intriguing, and a never-ending quest. I want it to become an intrinsic way of thinking, a curiosity where she wants to learn, not where I have to push her towards it. Now, at 3.5 she knows more about snakes, sharks and crocodiles than what all our friends know- combined. When the focus is on the process, the outcomes far exceed your initial success expectations.

4. Don’t settle for leadership buy-in, ensure leadership role-modelling

I recently  interviewed an exemplary leader who epitomises the concept of role-modelling. BPAY Group CEO, John Banfield believes that successful transformation starts with ‘leaders living the change’. His role-modelling and collaborative approach led to BPAY Group winning the Aon Hewitt Best Employer Award in 2018. These were John’s three tips for successful transformation that sticks:

  • Involve your employees along the change journey, by enlisting continuous feedback.
  • Ensure that leadership own the change, are proud of the change and are motivated and truly living the change.
  • Seek external agents who provide you with knowledge and support throughout the change process, but not do it for you.

5. Moving from change manager to change facilitator

As John mentioned in his last tip, organisations need someone to provide ‘knowledge and support the change process, but not do it for you’. This is a change facilitator.

Research in implementation science, shows that successful implementation should take into account context, evidence and facilitation, with facilitation being deemed as the most important aspect in bringing the context and evidence to life.

Even though the title ‘manager’ may sound more appealing than ‘facilitator’, an exceptional change manager is in fact a facilitator of change. How many times have you successfully “managed” to change other people? Change can’t be led or managed, it can only be facilitated. Organisations and consultants use words such as, ‘collaborative and holistic’, but are they ensuring the planning as well as implementation phases are collaboratively and holistically facilitated or are they simply consulting people on what to do?

Facilitating collaboration does not mean getting everyone in a room to make them feel like they’re making the decision, only for leadership to make the final call. Facilitating collaboration does not mean one person putting together an amazing change plan and then disseminating it across departments. Facilitating collaboration does not mean the executive team puts together all aspects of change and cascades this down the chain.

Facilitating collaboration means everyone is aware of the need for change, has the capabilities to make change happen, is engaged in the co-designing of the change process and change plan, and is empowered to both implement and embed the change.

This is not an idealistic approach, it is evidence-based approach. During a recent randomised controlled trial, we were able to work with teams through this process and achieve success measures that far outweighed project expectations and nearly halved project time frame. The key, however, is in the process.

Facilitation is the art of stimulating deeper understanding, fresh thinking and behavioural transformation.

Human-centered design
What is Human-Centered Design
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Culture Change That Sticks
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gu5oDzpfCAc&t=1569s
How our brain fights change
How our brain fights change
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jkIat9nykqw&t=2s
The history of change - The Change Hub insights
The history of change theories

Change has seen some big changes over the last 60 years. From Lewin’s 3 step change theory of ‘unfreeze, make changes, refreeze’ to a current expectation that organisations should never “refreeze”, but be ready for a constant state of change. It has moved from an authoritarian, outcome driven approach (Theory E- based on Economic value) to a more empowered, people-driven approach (Theory O- based on Organisational capability) [1].

By looking at the 14 change theories and models outlined (bearing in mind there are many more in and outside of the literature), we can somewhat categorise them into the following 3 areas;

1. Change evolution– these describe the stages of change people go through for example; Kubler-Ross change curve and the Satir change management model (Late status quo, Resistance, Chaos, Integration, New status quo). These help us identify where we and others sit along the journey of change as well as give insightful predictions as to how people would respond to change over time. This helps organisations and change teams understand, appreciate and know how to accommodate for the emotional aspects that are so inherently linked to change.

2. Change diagnostics- These are diagnostic areas where organisations can look to make change happen. These include; structures, systems, processes, people, culture etc. Theories that fall into this category include, The Mckinsey 7S change model, Leavitt’s diamond, the six-box organisational model. These theories help us know where to look to target change initiatives and where change can have significant impact. For example, If an organisation is bringing in a new software, who will be impacted? It will be systems, people, processes etc.

3. Change implementation process- These are steps that organisations can take to make change happen. These include the famous Kotter’s 8 step model, Kanter’s 10 commandments of change, appreciative inquiry and Prosci’s ADKAR model. Whilst these are big picture steps, they provide a rough road map for change agents within organisations to follow.

Organisations often adopt a combination of these, rather than one stand-alone model. The question however remains, with all of these valuable, informative, evidence-based insights, why is it that we are still seeing the alarming figures that 70% of change initiatives fail [1]? What is missing from the change equation and can we find it? The next few blogs will explore different aspects of change management and perhaps, we can get even an incremental step closer to seeing if change needs to be changed.

  1. Beer, M., & Nohria, N. (2000). Cracking the code of change. HBR’s 10 must reads on change78(3), 133-141.
Change Facilitation - The Change Hub
Changing the change paradigm

In 2012, during a two-year London escapade, my husband and I visited the fair city of Verona in Italy. This is where you can find the famous balcony where Romeo promised his beloved Juliet eternal love in Shakespeare’s famous tragedy.
As we roamed the beautiful cobble-stoned streets, we saw that it was the opening night of the Italian opera. We seized this once in a lifetime opportunity, where we could sit on the stones of a first century Colosseum and listen to the majestic sounds that echoed in the open air of the birthplace of the opera.
As we listened intently, it did not bother us that we couldn’t understand the words, because the beauty of the sounds transcended any language barrier. As I watched in amazement, I could not help but focus my gaze on the orchestra.
A team of individuals;

  • From different backgrounds.
  • With different levels of education.
  • Using different tools.
  • Reading different manuals.
  • Producing different sounds.

All working together to bring to life a perfectly timed, perfectly tuned harmony.

An organisational orchestra 

So why do I mention the orchestra and how does this relate to change?
Well, think of an organisation as an orchestra, made up of many different departments;
• Each department has its own objectives, processes and priorities.
• Each department works within their own timing and produces its own outputs.
• Each person within each department plays a special role.
• Each role has its own specific Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Then you bring in a big new initiative that will change the dynamic of the entire organisation. So what does the organisation do? They hire a soloist change manager to manage the change. This soloist now starts their own department with their own objectives, processes, priorities, outputs, timing and KPIs.

Changing the change paradigm

Ron Ashkenas, co-author of the ‘Boundaryless Organization’ wrote an article in 2013 in a Harvard Business Review titled ‘Change management needs to change’. In his article, Ashkenas shares the following insight;

The content of change management is reasonably correct, but the managerial capacity to implement it has been woefully underdeveloped. In fact, instead of strengthening managers’ ability to manage change, we’ve instead allowed managers to outsource change management to HR specialists and consultants instead of taking accountability themselves — an approach that often doesn’t work.”

If everyone is affected by the change, why is it only the change department who knows how to deal with change?

Isn’t resistance experienced by employees across the entire organisation? Does the change manager or change department have the time or capacity to address every single employee’s concerns?

Do managers from other departments know how to overcome barriers to change within their teams? Are they aware of the importance of the change process or do they view it as another tedious box to tick?

I was speaking to an Agile coach, who said,

We see the change manager as that person all the way over there who works in their own department and we work in ours, there is minimal interaction.”

From change soloist to an orchestra of change
By building managerial change capabilities across the entire organisation, we can;

  • Ensure all managers knows how to take their teams through the change process effectively.
  • Break down those departmental silos, allowing everyone to sing from the same song sheet.
  • Produce a unified, harmonious symphony of change.

The conductor of an orchestra doesn’t make a sound. He depends, for his power, on his ability to make other people powerful
Benjamin Zander

What are your challenges when it comes to implementing change within your organisation?

 

For more insights on how to build your organisational change capabilities and make change stick visit The Change Hub.

Implementation science- The Change Hub Insights
Implementation… Is there a silver bullet?

It may appear simple- come up with an idea, put together a plan, relay it to a team and voila! You have successful implementation. Unfortunately, in practice this is a much more complicated endeavour.

 “Organisations are successful because of good implementation, not good business plans”

– Guy Kawasaki

Guy Kawasaki, who was one of Apple’s original marketing specialists, goes on to say that a good idea is 10% inspiration and 90% implementation.

Implementation however, has been deemed a complex and multifaceted challenge by many researchers and practitioners worldwide. During my research, I have come across hundreds of studies trying to address its complexity. This challenge is most likely one of the reasons why 90% of start-up businesses in the USA close their doors within 10 years [1]. One thing that we do know is that simple dissemination of information is no longer effective nor sustainable in implementing innovations in the real world.

The questions is, why is successful implementation so difficult and can it be simplified?

There’s an entire science dedicated to implementation called… well ‘Implementation Science’. ‘Implementation Science looks into different methods to promote the systematic uptake of clinical research findings and other evidence-based practice into routine practice’ [2]. In other words, they investigate the best ways to apply research into the real world.

A framework that was published in the Journal of Implementation Science is the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research or CFIR [3]. CFIR breaks down implementation into five domains;

1. Intervention characteristics

2. Outer setting

3. Inner setting

4. Characteristics of individuals and

5. Process

The authors of CFIR then delve deeper into these domains to highlight the’ implementation factors’ associated with each domain. To look at a practical way to apply the CFIR domains, let’s imagine a Chief Information Officer (CIO) who wants to implement new computer software in his/her company.

1)     Intervention characteristics

When looking at this domain, the CIO should take into account all stakeholders’ perception of the software, whether they know where it came from and if it is in fact better than other alternatives. Can this software be tailored to suit the needs of the company? Can it be tested in a small trial size setting? How difficult is it perceived to be? How is it presented to its future users and what are all the costs associated with it?

2)     Outer setting

What is the organisation’s external reality? Are they aware of their clients’ needs and how this software will meet these needs? Are they implementing this software to keep up with competitors or are they innovating? What are the external policies or incentives surrounding the implementation of this software- is it mandatory for re-accreditation or is there a pay-for performance incentive?

3)     Inner setting

One must take into account inner settings of the organisation, including; culture, structural characteristics such as its age, level of maturity compared to other organisations within the industry and its size. Is this software compatible with the organisation’s vision, norms, needs and workflow? For example, if it’s a new, small boutique firm with younger employees who have a sound knowledge of up-to date systems, implementation will look different to a much older, larger and more established firm whose employees may be more set in their ways. This leads to the aspect of absorptivity of change within the organisation and the tension for change. Do employees welcome change as a way of enhancing practice or is there a change-averse culture. Is this software coming in as a last resort when everyone is already fed up?

4)     Characteristics of individuals

Here the CIO needs to take into account the employees’ knowledge and beliefs about the intervention as well as their belief in their own self-efficacy. Once everyone is aware that new software is being implemented, the CIO or appointed implementation team need to determine what stage of change each person is at. Some may be at the acceptance stage, whilst others may still be resistant or in denial regarding the changes. The CFIR also poses the question of where each participant see themselves within the organisation and to determine their personal attributes that would help bring this software to life.

5)     Process

In the process domain, one must take into account the planning that has gone behind the implementation of this software. Was it an overnight decision that is rushed into action or was there a meticulous planning process? Was adequate time spent engaging all involved through tailored training, role modelling, bringing in an opinion leader and other similar activities? The CFIR also recommends three parties to be involved in the implementation phase.

  • A formally appointed implementation leader- such as a project manager.
  • Champions- who are the individuals driving the change within each team, ensuring resistance is overcome and
  • External change agents- such as change managers or facilitators who can remain objective whilst steering the change.

The last two implementation factors within this domain are executing the implementation plan and finally reflecting and evaluating through qualitative and quantitative feedback. Many implementation teams underestimate the importance of adequate evaluation and reflection. They forget to ask the questions of;

a) What can we do differently next time?

b) What worked well?

c) What didn’t work so well?

Sending out surveys to employees regarding the way the software was implemented is an ideal way of gathering feedback to enhance the implementation process for the next innovation.

So the question remains- is there a silver bullet to accommodate for all these complex, multi-dimensional implementation factors, whilst bearing in mind the economic impact such a bullet may have on an organisation? I will keep digging to find the best way to practically apply evidence based research into the real world of implementation- stay tuned!

For more information about the Consolidated Framework of Implementation Research, visit http://cfirguide.org/constructs.html

1.      YonkRyan M., Ryan M. Yonk, HarrisKayla, Kayla Harris, MartinR. Chistopher, R. Chistopher Martin, AndersonBarrett, Barrett Anderson. 2017. Exploring the case of The White Moustache. Journal of Entrepreneurship and Public Policy 6:1, 41-59

2.      Eccles MP, Mittman BS: Welcome to implementation science. Implementation Science 2006, 1:1.

3.      Damschroder, L. J., & Hagedorn, H. J. (2011). A guiding framework and approach for implementation research in substance use disorders treatment. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 25(2), 194.

Facilitation - The Change Hub Insights
The art of memorable facilitation

How many times have you attended a training, a lecture or a talk and started snoozing in the first 3 minutes? This is how it usually starts- the speaker unfolds a piece of paper, they place it on the lectern and start talking to it. No eye contact, no change in tone, just a whole lot of content that takes too much brain power to decipher- so why bother trying? Then there’s death by PowerPoint- they bring up a PowerPoint presentation with a plethora of words and again they read to it. If I wanted to read a novel I would rather read Game of Thrones thanks!

According to German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus’s forgetting curve, a day after listening to a lecture we remember only 50% of the information and 30 days after this decreases to an insignificant 2-3%. So how can we make sure that the time and effort we spend into teaching others actually makes an impact and is never forgotten?

  1. Involve your audience

‘Tell me, I will forget. Show me, I may remember. Involve me and I will learn’ Benjamin Franklin

We need to move away from passive learning including lecturing, reading off a screen or listening to an audio and get into more active learning practices. This includes involving the audience in a group discussion, get them to fully explore the topic and come up with their own interpretation. This way any misconceptions, any differing perceptions will surface and can be addressed. Think of a time when you were personally involved in a training or a workshop- when the speaker allowed you to delve into each other’s ideas and unearth the topic beyond a few simplistic bullet points.

2. Bring the topic to life

When I do workshops on teamwork, I can’t just talk to them about teamwork and hope they understand. The only way they will understand is if they live the topic. When we ran our Leadership Empowering Action Program (LEAP) a few years ago in London, we placed the groups into teams, blind-folded each member except one person was the guide. The goal was to untangle a rope they were holding and move them into a circle (picture above). This required the guide to communicate clearly and effectively to each person and each team member needed to actively listen and trust the guide. The participants found this a powerful way to truly understand the impact of communication.

Recently I was giving a tutorial at university about teamwork. So I split the students in teams according to their differing team working styles and got them to build a tower out of newspaper. Sure they had a great time, but what did they learn? Well they learnt about delegation according to skills, they learnt the importance of planning before execution, they learnt about working under tight deadlines, they learnt about listening to others’ opinions and ideas, they learnt about creativity and thinking outside the box. They learnt more in a 15 minute activity than they would have if I lectured them for an hour.

3. Ask the hard questions

Sometimes it’s great seeing your audience nod and smile. An outsider may think that they’re actually listening and they agree, but let’s be serious- are they really or are they actually pondering the possibilities of where else they could be? The best way I have found to get my audience to really focus is to ask them hard questions. What do they feel about a controversial topic? Why? What do they mean about their comment? When you get through the fluffy exterior of quick answers, only then can you really delve into their deep dark thoughts (which can be scary!)

4. & Action!

Get your audience to write 3 action points that they would take away and start working on immediately. Ask them to tell someone about these action points so that another person can hold them accountable. Make sure their points are S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic & Timely). ‘I will work better in a team’ is not a good enough action point, it’s far too vague and not measurable. What they need to write is ‘On Monday, I will spend 5 minutes with each of my team members to find out what their preferred method of communication is and tell them mine’. If your audience goes away with 3 points that they would action from your session then your mission is successfully accomplished and your message will never be forgotten.

‘What we learn with pleasure, we never forget’ – Alfred Mercier

The Human-centered approach to change - The Change Hub
Change Facilitation – The human-centered approach to change

Every era needs to adopt the most suitable approach to change that caters for its needs. In 1995, for example, John Kotter published the 8-step change model [1]. At this time, organisations typically adopted a top-down structural approach, which aligned well with Kotter’s change model as this model ensured that leadership had a well-established approach to change that then cascaded down the organisational structure.

As time went on, organisations started to realise that it is in fact employees who are the key component to initiating creative ideas and making them happen, therefore, many organisations started adopting a bottom-up approach. In 2006, Jeff Hiatt published Prosci’s ADKAR model [2], this aligned well with this new approach as it too was a bottom-up approach to change.

So which change model works best in 2019?

During my 3 years of research in change facilitation, after interviewing leaders on how they have made their changes stick and while working on multiple change projects, it is clear that one approach cannot work without the other.

We need an all-in ‘Change Facilitation’ approach 

Having a ‘change facilitation’ approach, that connects both leadership and teams is proven to be very effective [3].

An example of a human-centered change facilitation approach is our ‘Six Principles of Change Facilitation’, which are as follows;

  1. Explore the need for change and its impact on the organisation.
  2. Establish the change vision and success measures.
  3. Engage all stakeholders onto the change journey.
  4. Evolve from problem-finding to problem-solving.
  5. Empower team members by seeking to understand them.
  6. Embed the change using an organisation-wide change framework.

These Six E’s work well in combining process with outcomes, meaning they will appeal to leaders, managers, project managers, change managers and team members. We have found that by introducing these Six E’s to teams during our one-day masterclass, it provides them with a completely different way to tackle change.

“What I learnt is that working like this, is a complete change in mindset for me, and it means that it’s not just what I think is right, but what the group thinks will work best.”

 Sue-Ann Stanford, Director at JMC Academy

So now that we know the how (process), let’s look at the who (the facilitator). What makes an exceptional change facilitator?

Qualities of the ideal change facilitator 

  • Objective- They can be internal or external to the organisation, but must be objective, meaning they cannot be directly involved in the change project.
  • A change expert- Not an industry expert. The change facilitator needs to know change, but does not need to be an expert in the field in which they are facilitating change. This ensure they remain objective, rather than impose their views on they think should be done.
  • Facilitator not doer-  They would facilitate the change process but not actively take part in it. This approach ensures that teams have external support and facilitated direction, but are equipping themselves with the ability to make change happen and not rely on someone to do the change for them.
  • Descriptive not Prescriptive- They would transfer general knowledge and evidence behind change, however when it comes to how to make the change happen within the organisation, they would simply facilitate discussions among teams, who would come up with how they will make the change happen. When teams come up with the ideas and the processes, they are more likely to take ownership and make these changes happen.
  • Engaging- They use stories often, they can quickly call upon facts and figures that help solidify a point. They use a variety of different visual aids. Their PowerPoint slides should not have more than 30 words per slide! They should also never be reading off a slide or a paper.
  • A conflict instigator- I know, this sounds terrible, but a good facilitator will not shy away from a heated discussion, in fact, they will promote the airing of concerns, but in a controlled way that leads to consensus building and a win/win solution.
  • A pragmatist- Building the team’s knowledge of change is crucial, now combining this with practical strategies to implement change- that’s the holy grail. Teams need to walk away with the ‘why’, ‘know-how’ and the ‘how-to’, when it comes to implementing change.
  • A people connector- They would facilitate discussions among leadership to align the change vision to the overall strategic vision as well as ensuring key stakeholder buy. They would also work with middle management to ensure they are empowered to take their teams effectively through the change process and they would work with teams to identify and overcome their concerns as well as embed the change within their processes and systems.

The best way to measure if a change workshop was a success, is that  teams are inspired to make change happen, and have practical steps to make change stick.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs, The Change Hub Insights
People resist change when these priorities are not met
People resist change when these priorities are not met

Do you have high expectations of your employees?

Well, I come from a culture where there are high expectations for both kids and adults. Now, I get a lot of parents who come to me and say, “I want to change my son or daughter. I want them to study more. I know that they can become a doctor or an engineer. I just need them to study a bit more. How could I change them?”

One particular mum came up to me and asked me these exact questions, and when I prodded a little bit more, I found out that her and her husband had recently split up. The boy was very withdrawn. He would stay in his room for a long period of time. He wasn’t studying.

The boy was naturally a very smart young man, but he just wasn’t performing. How the mother would react was she would ground him and his father would take away his phone and take away his video games. By reacting this way, they thought they were giving him more of a chance to study, but, unfortunately, when it came to his end-of-year exams, he didn’t even show up.

What happens is when we’re trying to expect so much of our kids or employees, there’s this hierarchy of priorities that we first need to address in order to get them to excel. This hierarchy is called Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and what Maslow says is that a person can’t excel if those basic needs are not met.

The first need is survival, so knowing that I have food and shelter. Once that’s met, then I need to make sure that there is safety and security. This young boy had his entire life jeopardised, and he did not feel secure because everything had changed.

Maslow’s hierarchy then state that once we have the security, then we go up a level, and that level is belonging. “Do I belong in a social circle? Do I belong with my family?” And this poor boy, at this stage, didn’t feel like he belonged. Where did he belong? With his mum, or with his dad?

Once we feel like we belong, then it’s about our self-esteem. Are we confident in our capabilities and ourselves? Once we have that self-confidence, then we can achieve that self-actualization, where we can, in fact, perform at our best, where we can be creative, we can problem-solve really well. And only when all of those basic needs are met can we then excel and meet these expectations of our parents and our employers.

So, next time you have high expectation of your staff or of your kids, think, are their basic needs met first?

When you bring in a new change at work, do your employees feel security in their roles or is this new change making them feel that their job security is jeopardised?

Do they feel engaged and have a feeling of belonging within this change?

Do they have confidence that they can take on this change and run with it or are they doubting their own self confidence?

We can’t expect our employees to reach the top, if we haven’t secured the bottom foundation for them to climb on.

The impact of underdeveloped capabilities- The Change Hub Insights
The impact of under-developed change capabilities

In my last article Why change management is becoming a bad word, I brought up five factors that need to change in order to prevent the further downfall of change management. In the next few articles, I will be breaking down these points in more detail.

In this article, I would like to discuss the need for organisations and change professionals to start building internal change capabilities in order for change to be successfully implemented and sustained and it looks like I am not alone in recognising this need. A recent study, where CMO representatives were surveyed, highlighted that building a foundation of strong organisational capabilities was crucial to CMO success, with 98.75% of participants selecting that a successful CMO needs to built on a foundation of strong organisational change capability.

So what is the impact of under-developed change capabilities on 1) managers, 2) leaders and 3) the organisation.

  1. Impact on managers: Managers with no change knowledge or tools will experience change fatigue.

Imagine if a ship captain goes out to face an ocean for the first time. The only thing the captain is given is the ship’s manual. He is responsible for the lives of 10 new crew members who have never gone out to an ocean of this size. Then a storm hits. The crew panic. The captain has no idea how to empower or motivate any of them into action. What will the result be? 1) Each crew member will hide out in their cabin, leaving the captain to fend off the treacherous waves until the storm passes, which will lead to an over-worked, exhausted captain. 2) The crew will all run around trying to do something with no direction eventually running out of motivation and hope, while the captain still tries to fend off the waves by himself, because let’s face it, he has no time to talk them through it now, leading to an over-worked, exhausted captain. 3) The storm becomes too big for the captain to take on and the entire ship and its crew sink.

This is exactly what we do to managers when we throw them in the deep end of a change project and expect them to know how to take their teams through it seamlessly. Like leaders, many managers rise to their positions due to technical expertise or meeting their KPIs. Then they are hit with a major change project. It could be a restructure or a systems overhaul or changes in performance measurements or a relocation. The change professional hands them a manual and waves them goodbye at the shoreline as the team and their captain steer off into the unknown. The manager has not proactively taken the time to find out how to navigate through unpredictable waves, they don’t know what motivates each of their team members towards change, they have not taken the time to understand their fears or limitations when it comes to change or each team member’s unique strengths and skill-sets which can help the crew navigate the sea.

Building managerial change capabilities before major changes, leads to a team that can seamlessly take on any change project regardless of its complexity.

Opportunity for change professionals– Start working more closely with managers to help them understand their teams and provide them with tools and strategies to engage and empower teams through the change process.

2. Impact on leaders: Leaders with minimal understanding of human behaviour and motivation, will not welcome the importance of role-modelling during change.

Whilst the number one challenge in change management is constantly reported as a ‘lack of executive support and active sponsorship’, I would take it a step further and say it is not enough to have executive support, we need executive role modelling. Even if leadership are “supporting” the change, when it comes to implementation, many continue in their old ways. An example, is commonly seen during implementation of an ‘open-plan’ setting, where the leader speaks about the importance of breaking silos, yet they remain in their corner office with the door shut. Another example, is when organisations boast of a new culture that promotes professional development, yet leaders refuse to allocate a sufficient budget for their team’s professional development.

Many leadership positions are based on technical expertise and on meeting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and rarely on how to motivate others towards positive change. However, leaders cannot be blamed. If they have not been equipped with knowledge on human behaviours, what motivates teams, what intrinsically drives people towards change, how can they be expected to take others through the change journey? This is not a matter of leadership training (that’s a given), it’s about delving deeper into what drives teams towards change and what they can do as leaders to drive change.

Building leadership’s knowledge of how to drive teams towards change creates a culture of empowerment and role-modelling, which ripples throughout the entire organisation.

Opportunity for change professionals: Showcase evidence to leaders and executives on the importance of alignment throughout the organisation.

3. Impact on the organisation: Lack of awareness of the complexity of change leads to conflict within the organisation

While change professionals are aware of the complexity of changing mindsets, behaviours, habits and processes, the priorities and views of other teams, managers, leaders is often different. Many view the change aspect as an after thought, a ‘nice to have’ or ‘let’s tick that box’. One change management recruiter said, ‘we are often asked for change managers in the middle of a project or if we’re lucky a few days before its commencement’.

The lack of awareness of the complexity of change, leads to a lack of prioritisation of the change aspect ultimately leading to misalignment
between departments and even leadership.

For example, conflicts commonly arise between project managers and change managers, because each have a different level of awareness of the complexity of change and hence prioritise different aspects of the change initiative. A project manager primarily focuses on the project scope, requirements and measures, while the change manager focuses on the people side of the change. If change capabilities were built throughout the organisation, project managers and change managers can better align the needs of the people with the needs of the project rather than seeing these as conflicting. Once both determine a common set of priorities, they can start working through them more collaboratively.

Building internal change capabilities creates a unified understanding of the need to facilitate change and leads to a collaborative approach to change implementation.

Opportunity for change professionals– Start building an internal understanding of the complexity of changing human behaviour and the impact this has on project outcomes.

About the Author: Academic-turned-entrepreneur, Lydia Moussa, combines knowledge from her PhD in change implementation research, with years of on the ground change facilitation experience. Lydia has facilitated change in over 300 organisations and has since founded The Change Hub. Lydia and her team combine change evidence with pragmatic application to build organisational change capability, clarity and confidence, creating a change wave that ripples throughout an organisation and beyond.

The role of the Sponsor- The Change Hub Insights
What is the role of a Change Sponsor?

When asked to identify the key contributors to the success of their change initiatives, participants in a research study [1] placed active and visible executive sponsorship at the top of the list. Sponsorship has been number one on the list of top contributors in many change management reports since 1998.

When asked to identify the biggest obstacle to success, participants in the same research study identified a lack of effective change sponsorship from senior leaders as their primary obstacle to success. Sponsors were inactive or invisible, not at the right level, not aligning other leaders around the change and wavering in their support.

 

The project sponsor responsibilities are across: 

 

Influence

  • Authorise and fund the change
  • Gain commitment and involvement from senior and line management
  • Align the organisation’s infrastructure, environment and reward systems with the change initiative (where relevant)
  • Ensure the priority of the initiative is clear alongside other organisational initiatives

Support

  • Clear a path for success and resolve escalated issues e.g. related to project schedule and scope
  • Train, mentor and/or coach line management, remaining accessible throughout
  • Ensure resources for the change, especially people and training are provided
  • Celebrate successes with the project team and organisation

Communication

  • Communicate the need for the change
  • Articulate a clear vision for the change and link to organisational strategy
  • Actively and visibly champion the change
  • Role model the change

Reference:

[1] Prosci’s Best Practices in Change Management – 2018 Edition

Choosing death over change
play watch now
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZbsLQyW8Xo
The Change Hub Blog - Maslow's Hierarchy of needs
Change resistance happens when these priorities are not met
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkZJIE411lc
Neuroscience of change - The Change Hub Insights
Change resistance is hardwired into our brain
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jkIat9nykqw
Stages of grief - The Change Hub insights
The stages of change grief
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRr2Yd4_XWk
Are you using a Painkiller or Antibiotic change solution?
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ISETFCSvMI
Resistance to change- The Change Hub Insights
When all you hear is ‘but’…
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXW9vW6naSY
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Client case studies
  • Tertiary education
  • Pharmacy
  • Transport
  • Digital health
  • General Practice

The co-design of a new student admission initiative

WHO

NSW Department of Education and The University of Technology Sydney (UTS).

CHALLENGE

Bringing students from low socio-economic areas into university.

WHAT WE DID

Step 1: We worked with the Social Justice and Inclusion team at UTS to determine current admission parameters and explore initial ideas.

Step 2: Facilitated a design workshop with representatives from over 20 schools in low socio-economic areas to explore challenges and bring forward ideas. This included teachers, principals, parents, students and university representatives.

Step 3: Synthesised the information from the co-design workshop and presented this to the University team.

OUTCOME

One year later and there are 300 students from these 20 schools who are taking part in the co-designed university admission program.

Implementing new software & guidelines in pharmacy

WHO

15 pharmacies across Sydney during a Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT) by The Graduate School of Health from UTS.

CHALLENGE

Learning how to use new software and guidelines during an RCT that needed specific outcomes within one year.

WHAT WE DID

Step 1: We conducted Change Management Training with the research team to facilitate change.

Step 2: Co-designed a change framework for the project.

Step 3: Provided on-going Change Management Consulting for the duration of the project.

OUTCOME

Exceeded project outcomes within 8 months (as opposed to the predicted 12 months).

Designing a business transformation strategy

WHO

A Sydney-based bus company

CHALLENGE

Owner overworked, inconsistency in communication, no alignment among drivers.

WHAT WE DID

Step 1: Facilitated a design workshop to explore current barriers exhibited by the entire team.

Step 2: Identified communication as the underlying root-cause to current challenges

Step 3: Co-designed an on-going communication plan with the entire team.

OUTCOME

Communication improved by 80% within the first two weeks and owner has decided to keep the business and expand.

Creation of the national pharmacy implementation plan for My Health Record

WHO

The Digital Health Agency and the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia

CHALLENGE

Under-utilisation of My Health Record (MHR) by Pharmacists.

WHAT WE DID

Step 1: Explored pharmacist challenges and concerns regarding MHR.

Step 2: Co-designed the Pharmacy Implementation Guidelines for My Health Record.

OUTCOME

Increased use of MHR by pharmacists.

Creation of a new Heart Failure service

WHO

The Western Australia Primary Alliance in partnership with The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia

CHALLENGE

Updated Heart Failure Guidelines that need to be implemented in primary practice with a goal of inter-disciplinary collaboration.

WHAT WE DID

Step 1: Co-designed an implementation guide tailored to heart failure.

Step 2: Trained different healthcare professionals (Pharmacists, General Practitioners and Nurses) in Western Australia on ways to navigate change in their practice.

Step 3: Provided in-house facilitation support to help teams design a service that is tailored to their patient and practice needs.

Step 4: Conducted follow-up calls and webinars to ensure continuity and sustainability of the service.

OUTCOME

General Practice Clinics and Pharmacies created new Heart Failure services that incorporated feedback from their entire team as well as from patients.