Rick's Reflections | Help for the 'Hunters and Gathers'


‘Hunters and Gathers’ is a phenomenon I discovered a few years ago. It refers to those who are typically newly appointed change management practice leaders who have been given the assignment to design, create, build and/or buy a change management methodology for their organization and don’t know where to start. Without a plan, they set off on a Google mission to find every change management tool, process, approach and technique ever imagined. Soon, they have a pile of mismatched internet downloads and screen shots that they believe is all they need to create their organization’s change management methodology.

Although an admirable effort, I have found this is seldom the best approach. Change management thought leaders create these tools, techniques and processes to enhance and refine an already proven approach and methodology. Hunting and gathering in change management is like expecting to be a successful gardener simply by taking seeds, throwing them into the wind, and later finding luscious plants miraculously materialized without additional work. Although it would be great if they did, we all know it doesn’t happen that way. It’s important to remember that specific change management tools, techniques and processes uniquely fit into a defined methodology. Before digging into the resources, I strongly suggest you consider best practices and select an overall change management methodology, because it’s often difficult to try to string together a collection of seemingly random concepts and tools.

Instead, take your lead from the thought leaders. I believe a more successful approach is to research the proven and accepted change management models and methodologies vetted by recognized change management professionals and methodically assess each so that you can select the solution that is most aligned to your organization. To aid you in the search, I offer the following ten considerations to assist in your assessment and selection of a change management methodology.

  1. Proven and Accepted: Is the methodology recognized by other practitioners and acknowledged by the change management thought leadership community? Are change management consulting case studies and related thought leadership publications readily available? Can practitioners participate in training programs and earn change management certifications recognizing their ability to apply the methodology?
  2. Simple: Is it obvious and intuitive? Will it be easy for the individuals who will have to apply the methodology to understand the change management approach? Are there change management resources available to support learning the model, methodology, processes and tools? Does the methodology differentiate the responsibilities of individuals with different roles and provide clarity to the ways in which they need to interact?
  3. Scalable: Can the change management methodology and application of the tools address the unique needs of individual and/or organizational changes? Is the methodology flexible? Is it obvious when and how to leverage the implementation of the methodology based upon the variables of time, complexity, size, resistance and urgency of the change?
  4. Strategic and Tactical: Is the methodology comprehensive? Does the methodology enable the change practitioner to easily operationalize the change strategy into tactics or tasks that can be implemented? Is it easily applied to implementation of transformational as well as transactional changes? If necessary, is there change management consulting available to support the application?
  5. Data Driven: Are change management decisions based upon relevant data? Does the change management methodology require data collection, analysis and data-driven actions? Are change management tools available to support the data collection and analysis activities? Does the methodology focus on data driven risk assessment and mitigation?
  6. Culturally Aligned: Does the philosophy and approach of the change management methodology, processes and tools fit the culture of the organization? Will it be perceived as too simplistic/too complex, too soft/not rigorous, too time consuming, too expensive, too resource intensive, etc.? Is there sufficient sponsorship for change management to overcome cultural alignment challenges?
  7. Integrated: Does the change management methodology have an open architecture? Will the change management methodology easily and seamlessly integrate with existing processes such as project management, 6 Sigma, lean, agile, etc. Has the change management methodology been successfully integrated in other organizations?
  8. Measurable: Is the methodology aligned to business strategy and performance? Is it metrics driven? Does the change management methodology force leaders to quantitatively define current and future business performance and employee behaviors? Are their change management tools within the methodology to manage measurement?
  9. Sustainable: Does the change management methodology include processes and tools to help the organization sustain the change once implemented? Is the process for documenting change management project deliverables, monitoring and reporting progress, and archiving best practices and lessons learned a part of the methodology? Does the methodology include a strategy and tools for reuse and adaptation of artifacts from previous change efforts?
  10. Affordable and Adaptable: Do the terms and conditions of adopting the change management methodology fit within the allocated budget? Can the model, methodology, processes and tools be easily adapted with minimal conflict and cost? Does the relationship provide the freedom, flexibility and partnership need to incorporate the methodology into your business strategy?

Overall, Hunters and Gatherers need to refine their search. If you are tasked with the responsibility to create, build or buy a change management methodology for your organization, don’t leave successful change management to chance. Base your change management methodology on proven theory and practice. Google the thought leaders and existing methodologies. Leverage the maturity of our discipline -- adopt an industry and market-recognized methodology and customize it to meet the unique requirements of your organization.

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