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S2 E2: Leadership - Changing Right with Tom Mitchell

However you want to measure it, there is no doubt that leaders within organisations often deliver change suboptimally both for the objective and for the people it impacts. Change is a tough activity for most but for large organisations with huge revenues associated with the status quo - change is almost impossible to get right. That doesn’t stop organisations that need change to happen at scale to embark on these journeys - what it does often mean is that leaders in such organisations look to hedge their investments by bringing in big guns to do the heavy lifting.

Of late the tide seems to be turning when it comes to the reliance on the big power house consultancies. Instead, organisations appear to want to partner with niche, subject matter experts who have more skin in the game and a keener focus on upskilling than perhaps the traditional outsourcing options.

This is something our latest guest in the Chair, Tom Mitchell, founder of Change Right is seeing in the market. As Tom shares early on in this episode, what he has seen from many Change Right’s clients is a requirement to reduce their reliance on big consulting firms to manage change for them in favour of those who can help them learn to manage change for themselves. He is seeing clients want to work with some of the smaller niche consultancies which are emerging because not only do they have a deeper expertise than some of the big players but they also have the time and focus to help organisations build their own understanding of change. To help support them in developing a toolkit that works for them and the culture of their organisation. Tom also reflects about how this shift is also helping with creating an environment where employees want to stay and work instead of what we are seeing in many industries now is a realisation of the poor management and practices organisations have held over employees in a pre pandemic world.

In fact employee experience is also at the heart of Change Right. I know from first hand experience how difficult the struggle is for independent consultants to make the leap from one-man (or woman) band to fully fledged small consultancy. Most that try work on the associate model but have zero benefits or guarantees - perhaps more glorified contracting. But Tom has started out with a total focus on making his Change Righters feel that despite being associates not only do that have a vested interest in the growth of the company they also get somewhat looked after like they are valued employees - where else do you know you would get paid sick leave, access to a training budget and bi-annual corporate away days - all in a bid to ensure your motivation and focus is on giving the company and the clients the best possible experience and tools.

As Tom shares, there is a growing demand for clients to reduce dependents on the big consulting firms and to get a better service - avoiding as many mention - the employee carousel that consulting firms operate to expedite junior consultants to higher fee paying clients.

One of my personal ambitions, and one Tom shares, is to democratise the principles and practices of Change Management so that it is understood and accessible by all levels of an organisation. I know that doing so would essentially do myself and other practitioners out of our current job but I am confident a new more strategic place for us would open up in its place.

The reason I personally advocate for this is that thinking of change as isolated and independent events that happen in an organisation mean that we only ever enlist the skills when we need them and often don't pay that much attention to holding onto those skills if we need them in the future - like for the next change that comes around the corner.

With changes hitting organisations at increasing rates I think the only thing that will prepare a business for this environment is a workforce who understand change and take it into their day jobs as managers and leaders but for this we need consistency and focus from consultants as opposed to the merry go round of the consultant carousel.

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