For information about Richard Bevan's Changemaking please visit www.changestart.com. You will also find free resources, including a 17-page toolkit on Making Meetings Work.

Change affects each person and organization differently. But its impact falls into patterns that can be understood and managed.

 

Manage change or be managed by it

Start managing change before it happens

 

Despite the constancy of change, many strategies for managing it focus on the defined period within which change occurs: the phase following an acquisition; a process redesign; the response to a competitive threat. Such efforts often fall far short of expectations. That’s because the core factors in successful change can't always be created at short notice; they need to be in place.

 

These factors include clarity, leadership, engagement, and communication. Change comes much more readily to the organization with a clear mission and strategy; consistent and supportive leaders at every level; and stakeholders - especially employees - who are engaged: committed, informed, educated and involved.

 

Preparing for, managing and integrating change

 

Managing today means dealing with change: understanding it, leading it, integrating it, responding to it, creating it. But most organizations are organized and staffed for current operations. They have limited resources for planning and managing change. The failure to adjust workloads or reallocate resources during change is one of the primary sources of resistance and breakdown.

 

Major change calls for intensive and sustained effort at many levels. It may mean driving a new culture through an organization, or integrating a newly acquired business, or divesting some operations, or installing new systems and processes. It certainly calls for effective and sustained communication, with great clarity about purpose, rationale and process.

 

It’s been observed that change happens, and can’t be managed. Some changes are external to the organization and can’t be controlled. But the organization’s response, or the initiatives it takes to prepare for change, can certainly be managed.

Strategic clarity, stakeholder engagement, communication and leadership are four of the primary levers through which the organization can changing its culture, structures, processes, people and systems.

Howard Schultz built Starbucks into a global brand while staying focused on the firm's core cultural values. With his return to the CEO role, the commitment to employees, customers and the community has been renewed.

Gordon Bethune and Greg Brenneman led a dramatic recovery at Continental Airlines through sweeping structural and cultural changes, with a focus on engagement in the company's mission and operations of employees at all levels.

Steve Jobs returned to the leadership of Apple with a vision and commitment to innovation and the needs of the user that brought the company back to technological and market leadership.

These leaders have responded to change in their markets and created change in their organizations. Each is building the capacity for sustained success by continuing to anticipate and manage change.
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