Culture Insights Blog

Change fatigue is bulls**t

Published on 28 May 2019
Change Fatigue

The term “change fatigue” has received far too much airtime and focus in recent times. Our New Zealand Consultant Darren Levy and Dominic Gourley chat about the concept of change fatigue and that’s it’s not about the change itself but the way it’s being implemented.

Listen to Episode 051: Change fatigue is bulls**t

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What can you do to avoid change fatigue?

1. Take much more time to initiate and understand the need for change. Gain the perceptions of those at the coalface and who interact with your customers every day. What change do they need and what impact will it have on them doing their jobs better? Additionally, too much change is initiated by a need for us to improve a system or process, but has little effect on our customers. Get an external perspective. What changes will make life better for our customer from their perspective—not what we think customers need.
2. Carefully map the stakeholders and the level of impact the change will have on them.The aim is to understand to what degree people are “ready, willing and able”. Ready people have the time and space for the change, willing are motivated to support the change, and able people have the skill sets the change requires. You need people to be all three—and hint—it’s the “ready”part that can be the biggest barrier. While the mapping will also identify your champions, those who are largely ambivalent, and those who will resist, don’t write off resisters. They’ll be resistant for a reason—impact on them personally or the lack of opportunity to be involved are often the keys. How can you help them overcome that resistance?
Build a highly diverse change leadership team. Look for the right mix of seniority, representation across the organisation, mana, influence and change capability. While some also suggest you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer, you don’t want to derail your project by giving someone formal authority from inside the change team to oppose your project. Don’t put resistors on your lead team in the hope they will come around, but ensure they have input in the planning phase. Ensure the project has an active sponsor—someone who can clear political hurdles that may arise is key, so make sure you have someone senior.
4. Build a compelling vision, purpose and strategy for the intended change. Too often change projects do not fully qualify their value creation and value capture. Be clear—who will benefit from this change and how will that capture value for the organisation? People are motivated by a higher-level purpose—so give them one!
5. Ensure timely and clear communication that is an appropriate mix of face-to-face (1: many and 1:1) happens as early as possible to help share the why for change. Focus on communicating what does this mean for you, your team and our organisation. Folks also like to know why from the big boss and what from their direct supervisor.
6.Provide as much certainty and clarity as you can and ensure you communicate frequently. As George Bernard Shaw says, “The greatest danger in communication is the illusion that is has been completed”.
7. When it comes time to implement the change ensure that there are opportunities to  prototype and experiment to demonstrate proof-points and celebrate successes. Often change projects are undertaken with the belief you have the answer and change is just an implementation phase. But often the detailed workings of a strategic change are not set in concrete at all, or they were until someone realised they didn’t work. Experimentation and “failing” so you can learn and advance the project can be critical to change success. If there’s one oxymoron in a change process, it is having an inflexible change plan.
8. As we wrap the successful change initiative make space to review and reflect on the change. What did we set out to do? What did we end up doing? What are the opportunities to do it better next time? What lessons have been learned and what other change opportunities have been identified? Are our policies, structures and systems supporting the change? Where else could this change be implemented? What skills did we need but did not have? There are a hundred questions you could ask to derive value from the experience, but often we are looking to move on quickly to our next assignment and key learnings from the project are lost—only to be learned again with an element of unnecessary pain!
9. Add design thinking and change management to your toolkit. Become a certified facilitator of ExperienceChange and ExperienceInnovation with Human Synergistics. You will learn the best practices of facilitating change and build your competitive edge.

Read the full article here


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Other Culture Bites Podcast episodes of interest;
006: What is a Toxic Culture
008: Is Culture, Climate and Engagement the same thing?
035: How to Change Culture in 4 Phases