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  • Gilbert Kruidenier

Something is happening in Change Management

Deep blue world map with with circle hotspots that illustrates inter-connectedness

***Spoiler alert*** this article contains questions and some potentially useful references, but no answers.

You know that feeling you get when you just know something isn’t right but you can’t quite put your finger on it? That’s how I’ve been feeling about change management for a while now. I’ve tried reading very smart books and articles by equally smart and accomplished people in and outside our profession to find answers. When that didn’t work, I met with a lot of them in (virtual) person and despite the pleasant and insightful conversations, the feeling that something is missing did not go away.

I am reading ‘Seeing what others don’t’ to better understand if I am completely missing the point or am just seeing something that is not yet apparent to all. Mind you, I am hardly breaking ground when I say that Change is changing. No Black Swans or lightbulb moments to see here folks, keepmoving. Just 30 minutes of Googling shows that it was already a topic of much debate in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and it still is in 2018. The suggested solutions get better, the frustration grows, but the dots remain unconnected.

What concerns me is that while we seem to recognise that change is changing, we also seem to have no real idea into what or in which direction. Last year we had the Agile (or agile) hype sweep through Melbourne and surroundings and I was amazed at how much of it was plain old change management, but slightly rebranded and sometimes not even that. Before that it was chaos and complexity theory, before that soft-skills, before that lean six sigma, before that Agile…the list goes on and I likely missed a few.

Are we caught in some collective groundhog day scenario where we keep repeating the same thing until we figure out what needs to be done differently before we can break the cycle. Sure looks like it from where I am standing (hence the confused look..).

Some argue that this is the new reality for change management and that our most recent models (*cough* from the 90’s *cough*) are just not up to the task, instead proposing to combine a number of fields of expertise like neuroscience, complexity, project management and psychology. Some of the best I know are Jason Little’s Change Canvas, Jennifer Frahm’s 7 Principles and Ron Leeman’s Framework to Change or my all-time favourite ADKAR. Don’t be deceived by their apparent simplicity, it takes skill to make it look that easy and they are all excellent tools to get you to pay attention to things that matter in today’s change arena. But is that enough?

I think it might be too big an ask to expect the Jen’s and Jason’s of this world (despitetheir awesomeness) to figure all of this out for us so the big consultancies can monetize it for the next 10 years. I hope for a future for our profession where we truly come together as a global community instead of being played out against each other in a bidding war to do token change projects that no staff member ever gave a damn about.

If my structure and framework-oriented mind could decide, I’d like to see us rally behind a commonly shared set of practices (with or without a shiny certificate or accreditation) that gives customers true insight and realistic expectations on value for money instead of Fake Change that gets them nowhere and hurts our credibility by just being in the same room when it happens.

From what I can see, there’s (mini-)revolutions happening all over the world, from New York to Holland and Hong Kong to Melbourne, what would it take to connect those dots and do something truly spectacular?

From what I can see, there’s (mini-)revolutions happening all over the world, from New York to Holland and Hong Kong to Melbourne, what would it take to connect those dots and do something truly spectacular?

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