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Reflections from Season 1 with Ket & Joe

As I look back on the season and the topics we have covered I start to see change in general as a system of principles, behaviours and processes that can create the right environment for individual and organisational change to take place.

At the heart of every change, be it organisational or personal, is an individual with experiences and emotions that shape the way they think and behave. In the process-driven world of projects, it is clear we can often lose sight of this fact and hope that simple actions such as well laid out plans and repetitive communications are enough to get all those impacted, aligned and ready for the change to take place.

In reality projects often realise that what they seek so desperately to change doesnt have a hope in hell’s chances of happening unless those impacted adopt. It is not uncommon then when change managers are brought in we are in damage limitation mode. We spend our time understanding where some of the biggest frustrations and challenges are and creating interventions that will help smooth the path for the remainder of the project - which no doubt is running fast out of time.

The way this is often done is actually not to apply every change management method and tool under the sun in some sort of frenzied scattergun approach. It is in fact the direct opposite. To be the calm in the middle of the storm. To stop and listen, and more importantly hear, what people are feeling about what is coming. To understand their subconscious unmet needs and to seek specific interventions, tailored to the teams and individuals that help have their needs met. This space of course costs time but as a result we have better engagement, better alignment and greater motivation.

In fact one of the most powerful things change practitioners do in this moment of pause and calm is to look at all these disparate bits of information from all over the project team and connect up the silos of information and emotions so that people can become aligned to the goals and the challenges that remain to deliver. Not only the information but more importantly the misinformation or misunderstanding that often happens in projects where everyone is only part paying attention and often focused more on what they have to say rather than on what they need to listen to.

Taking this approach to slow down and create space is actually quite novel when you think about it. Organisations want change to happen faster and faster and so they initiate multiple projects running in parallel and often hitting the same teams. The onslaught for those impacted is fatigue and overwhelm. When you then come in and act as the space, the buffer, for all that pent up emotion and stress you uncover the things that will enable people to make change happen for themselves.

Perhaps the crusade for change management is to make itself defunct, for us to upskills managers and leaders such that change leadership: creating the space, connecting the dots, using emotions as data insight are fundamental skills they leverage to make change happen faster. For organisations to be change ready. Whether we are in at the start or just before the end, the models and tools we use are simply a jumping off point to democratise what it takes to drive change which sustains and can scale.

Episode 2 - Connect the Dots

Summary Narrative:

  • A varied career in one organisation gives you perspectives as to how things fit (and sometimes dont) together.

  • That perspective is powerful in change, while everyone else is heads down focused on their own bit, who is looking at the picture as a whole ensuring we second guess conflict, proactively uncover roadblocks and keep everyone focused on the end goal.

  • It isn’t what perhaps we are known for as change practitioners, but we have a special vantage point that can really help change and transformation progress more smoothly.

Episode 3 - Disrupting Change

Summary Narrative:

  • Despite the common Change Management narratives - that change takes place over a long time, it is clear under the “right” conditions change can take place at a rapid pace and scale as witnessed through various examples during covid.

  • Key to this change at scale connecting the work people do to an overall purpose or goal that everyone buys into - understanding how your work plays a part. Also ensuring that work you undertake prioritises actions that collectives move everyone toward that common goal.

  • There is some irony that, because of the way goals in organisations are constructed we employ significant volumes of effort to deliver them. Perhaps if we did fewer and with more focus we would get much further forward. Also with the volume, it creates the environment where overwhelm and ensuing resistance becomes a natural part of organisational change.

Episode 4 - Changing the Language

Summary Narrative:

  • Managing expectations of those driving change and this impacted change is itself a full time job. A major culprit of mismanaged expectations is often through the unchecked / ill defined language we use.

  • Many commonly used terms have a meaning of their own and those meanings come with preconceptions. “Change Management” is a good example. Trying to position the role/scope of change management can be simply broken down into steps to Ready the Business and Steps to enable Adoption.

Episode 5 - Space for Contemplation

Summary Narrative:

  • Organisations seem to invest in things that a have tangible return on investment but activities such as holiday, breaks between meetings and dedicated thinking time have been proven to unlock novel and innovative ideas to tackle organisational challenges.

  • In a period where all parts of our lives have be intermingled often without any physical boundaries people have fallen into a helpless and sometimes overwhelming state of always on and always doing - and it is a mentally tiring situation.

  • Couple with it that most of us are unaccustomed to dealing with this level of change on all fronts of our lives - the fragility of the workforce is perhaps about to be exposed as we tackle implementing a hybrid, covid outbreak ready, scenario.

Episode 6 - Starting to Change

Summary Narrative:

  • Too often change practitioners are brought into projects when a programme sponsor or project manager realises that the impending go-live date has very little support from the business.

  • This can be tricky for change practitioners because we are often balancing action against limited time and often a frustrated set of stakeholder across the project and operations teams.

  • Taking all our expertise and targeting actions that will reduce friction and build trust has to be the number one goal - even when you know so much more needs to be done to deliver the ideal change management plan.

Episode 7 - Emotional Insights

Summary Narrative:

  • We have been conditioned to think of emotional displays, particularly of negative emotions as something to fear or solve. Often when we see people experiencing negative emotions we are quick to comfort with projection of our own experiences or to solve by giving advice.

  • We need to become more comfortable in creating the space for people to explore the emotions they are experiencing and understand what exactly it is telling them about themselves. What exactly is being challenged or questioned about the very nature of what makes the person tick.

  • As soon as we start to emotions (our own and those of others) as data that can lead us to insight we can begin to engage positively with all emotions and help people find their own ways to cope with them, learn and grow.

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