2016: It’s Time to Move Beyond Change Management and Embrace Organizational Change

Most agree that change is typically very challenging for organizations. Even the language of change is challenging for many. This article will clarify three terms related to change: change management, change leadership and organizational change. It will also address why change management is not enough, and why organizations need to embrace organizational change.

Many leaders and managers continue to refer to change management to describe their efforts to address change in their organizations. But change management is only one aspect of what needs to happen to effectively address change in organizations

What is change management? There are a number of activities and tools involved in change management. Some examples include project management tools, focusing on what needs to be changed, developing comprehensive plans, and implementing policies and procedures to embed the changes within the organization. (Our published research has found 11 skills necessary to address organizational change – and change management is ONE of the 11 skills*.)

What is change leadership? Change leadership includes actions such as developing a vision for the change, ensuring that there are adequate resources, and driving the change forward. For example, driving the change forward includes having emotional resilience in the times of setbacks and difficulties, and making difficult decisions. Of particular importance in leading change is having good people skills such as communication, influencing, motivating and resolving conflict.

Here is a link to a short video by Kotter International that discusses the difference between change management and change leadership: https://t.co/hFACD9HM8J .

Now, what is organizational change? Organizational change is the term that includes both change management AND change leadership.

Why do organizations need to embrace organizational change? It’s not enough just to manage change. For organizations to be successful with their change efforts, organizations need to also focus on change leadership. With research continuing to find that about 70% of change initiatives fail, it’s long overdue for those responsible for change initiatives to understand and embrace organizational change – that is, both change management and change leadership!

Key Steps to Success with Organizational Change:

• Take an objective look at how much change leadership is happening in your organization. Identify who the
change leaders are for each of the change initiatives underway (and for change initiatives planned). Ensure
that these change leaders have the skills and resources they need for success.

• Evaluate the effectiveness of your change managers and their change tools and processes. Is it time for a
change management reboot?

• Review what the success rate is of your organization’s change initiatives. Critically review where and how
can your organization improve this success rate.

*Check out our unique, fully on-line Developing Organizational Change Skills Program™ at www.developchangeskills.com .

Somerville, K. and Turner, D.M. (2013). ‘Managers’ perceptions of organizational change skills – Within their own organization and those sought from management consultants’. In Research in Management Consulting: Volume on Exploring the Professional Identity of Management Consultants, edited by A. Buono, L. Caluwe & A. Stoppelenberg, Charlotte: NC: Information Age Publishing.

Somerville, K. and Whelan-Berry, K. (2009). Organizational change management skills: A study of the literature and the education available from leading American and Canadian organizations. The International Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Change Management, 9(10), 55-66.

© Dr. Karen Somerville, PhD, MBA, CEC, CPA, CGA — with more than 25 years of experience in Senior Management. www.performanceplusgroup.com