Point of View to Change Management
February, 2014 Page 1
Point of view to Organizational
Change Management in the
Nordics
...
Point of View to Change Management
February, 2014 Page 2
So, where has it gone astray?
When a company goes through a major...
Point of View to Change Management
February, 2014 Page 3
point, the team should also evaluate how
realistic it is for the ...
Point of View to Change Management
February, 2014 Page 4
The practicalities of planning the change
implementation should n...
Point of View to Change Management
February, 2014 Page 5
what direction the change will be taking
your organization.
 Be ...
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Point of view to Organizational Change Management in Finland

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This our point of view to Organizational Change Management in Finland. It is a based on our experience in working across industries and companies in Finland.

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Point of view to Organizational Change Management in Finland

  1. 1. Point of View to Change Management February, 2014 Page 1 Point of view to Organizational Change Management in the Nordics State of the Affairs leaves a Lot of Room for Improvement The 2010 Eurofond survey shows that the companies in Sweden, Finland and Denmark have been leading the statistics in EU countries when it comes to number of organizational changes implemented1 . Norway stands at seventh place out of the 35 countries included in the survey. It can certainly be claimed that change is a constant in the life of the employees in the Nordic companies. The drivers behind the changes have been, and still are, typically related to changes in the market conditions and ownership structures, increased risk awareness and the willingness to act on it. Unfortunately, the increased agility in implementing changes has been matched by increasing lack of leadership focus. This is manifesting itself through the launching of poorly planned change initiatives. The targets and goals of the change are often not defined, what will change, and what will remain unchanged poorly described, and execution of the change initiative left to the chance. This leads to situations where there is no clear consensus on what was decided to be done, why the decision to change was made, and how the change is to be implemented. Keeping in mind that research has shown that timing of the top and middle management’s interest in a change initiative differs significantly, you arrive at a conclusion that by the time the implementation of the change initiative should be at full force, the attention of the top management might already have moved on to the next big thing. Commitment to leading the change at the forefront seems to be missing; instead the 1 Source: http://www.eurofound.europa.eu/pubdocs/2011/82 /en/1/EF1182EN.pdf leadership of the change initiative gets delegated to the Human Resources department or another support function in the company. This causes a lack of focus and may easily lead to a situation where the change initiative takes a life of its own and starts to significantly deviate from the original intent. With change initiatives becoming a mundane phenomenon, organizations tend to underestimate uniqueness of the change at hand and do not see the need to dedicate enough skilled employees to plan and implement the change. In this climate of constant change, lack of leadership, and ambiguous targets, employees struggle to keep up with the change. To compensate, they try their best to work towards the goals they assume they should reach. However, under these circumstances the individual interpretation of the targets may vary greatly both between individuals and from the original intend. Unclear and conflicting agendas may result in people turning back to their old, comfortable ways of working and relay on skills and capabilities they acquired in the past. In the end, the change initiative dies out after the initial hype and commotion. In worst case nothing really changes, and even in the best case, the targeted benefits are far from achieved. Most likely there is, by now, already a new change initiative ongoing and everything starts all over again. Some of the change management consultants and change management trainings are, rather than helping, making things worse. This is due to their blind belief in the power of methodologies and tools and the ability of these to solve all problems related to the change initiatives. Unfortunately, methodologies and tools, without leadership, commitment and proper staffing, are not sufficient. In worst examples we have seen well intentioned, but poorly executed trainings, undermine the whole concept of change management. After the term and concept has been discarded as bogus, it is difficult for anyone to restore an organization’s faith in the value of properly planned and executed change initiatives.
  2. 2. Point of View to Change Management February, 2014 Page 2 So, where has it gone astray? When a company goes through a major change initiative the impacts are typically targeted at processes, technology enablers (=systems) as well as people and the behavior of the employees. Therefore, the change initiative activities have to be planned and executed in all these areas. A typical IT-project covers the technology enablers and at least some parts of the process changes. But too often the people aspect is neglected and expected to be handled by project progress communication and systems trainings only. These activities alone are unlikely to make any significant and durable change in peoples’ behavior or attitudes. For example, to change a traditional functional organization into a customer centric organization is not accomplished by just implementing a new CRM system for use at the customer interface. Instead the whole organization has to adapt to a new way of thinking and new ways of working throughout customer related processes. Changing anything related to the company culture and employee values requires a significant effort on people change management. It appears that most of the companies manage change initiatives much in the same fashion as they manage their IT projects. In worst cases, IT project management activities are the only activities done in relation to implementing the change. It is assumed that the change in peoples’ behavior happens automatically following the changes in technology. Unfortunately, it tends to not be this simple. Unless people change the way they think, they are likely to simply keep on following the same old process with the new tools. Or once the initial hype has passed, they just start to ignore the new tools completely. Changing people’s thinking, behavior and ways of working is difficult to the extent of being frightening. Facing angry and upset employees is troublesome for any leader. Even the leaders themselves may experience hard times when they have to change their own habits and customs. Change does also often bring about a shift of power within the organization, and this is naturally not received well by those who find their power and influence diminishing. Therefore, it is often tempting to focus on changing the abstract processes and inanimate systems, while ignoring the employees that are scared of losing their jobs or managers that find their positions and influence under threat. However, as long as the processes in the company are being run by the employees, you as a leader will have to also address the people aspects of the change. People Need a Purpose and Direction In order to understand, accept and endorse a change being implemented, people will need to know the rationale and purpose behind the need to change as well as the direction the change intends to take the organization to. Management needs to communicate why the change is needed, how the change needs to be implemented, and why it needs to happen now. In addition, it is beneficial to explain to the employees what will remain as-is after the change. Going through the process of addressing these questions also helps the leadership team itself. It will make sure that every team member is on the same page and that they are able to communicate these answers consistently to the employees. Without the explicit documentation of the rationale and direction, the leadership team is not likely to have a common understanding. If they do not share the same understanding of the rationale and direction, the communication from each leadership team member to the rest of the organization is likely to deviate and cause confusion. As part of planning the change, the leadership team needs to understand and describe the targeted change in precise and practical terms. Key items in the description being the reasons for why the change is needed, what is aimed to be accomplished with the change, and how these goals are going to be achieved. At this
  3. 3. Point of View to Change Management February, 2014 Page 3 point, the team should also evaluate how realistic it is for the organization to successfully implement the change and what kind of resistance is to be expected. In order to achieve this, the change leadership team needs to understand how far the current situation is from the target scenario as well as understand how realistic it is that the planned change will achieve the targets set for it. To support the communication of the rationale and targets of the needed change, it typically helps to be able to explain the logic through some form of a decision three. In this context the decision three describes the logical chain of factors building up to the targeted change goals, or sub-goals building up to the end-goals. This type of decision three supports the communication of the change impact, required changes within each business unit, and how all of this combined leads up to the overall change objectives. Being able to clearly communicate the individual sub-goals building up to the overall goals is an important factor in getting the different levels and business units in the organization aligned, and on board, with the change initiative. Phases of the change management Each change initiative should be broken down to at least two phases: planning and implementation. The main target of the planning phase is to find a common understanding of the answers to the question: Why does the organization need to go through this change? How is the change planned to be achieved? The key in the implementation phase is to answers the questions: What are we changing? How are we implementing the change? Cornerstones of the planning phase In a nut shell, the corner stones of the planning phase are:  Creating a feeling of urgency in implementing the change,  Defining the vision for the change,  Articulating the reasoning and direction for the change,  Analyzing the different options of reaching the change targets,  Defining the criteria for a successful implementation of the change,  Agreeing on the implementation roles and responsibilities. In order to create the feeling of urgency, the change leadership team needs to determine:  Why are we changing?  What happens, if we will not change?  Why do we have to change right now?  How quickly do we want to make the change happen?  How quickly are we able to make the change happen? As part of describing the reasons and direction of the change, the change leadership team needs to agree on answers to the following questions:  What they are targeting to achieve with the change?  What is the inspiring future vision for the organization?  What are the things that need to be changed? What will remain the same after the change has been implemented? The change leadership team needs to steer clear from group thinking and making overly optimistic plans. To avoid those mistakes they need take a long, hard look at their own personal and the organizations attitudes and behaviors that are likely to hinder and sabotage the acceptance of the change. Making the change happen requires you to first admit to where you are at, and then to understand how far you have to go to achieve your targets. It also helps to agree beforehand, how you determine when you have reached your goals, i.e. how do you measure that targets have been achieved. And vice versa, what are the signs to look out for to understand that you have deviated from your target?
  4. 4. Point of View to Change Management February, 2014 Page 4 The practicalities of planning the change implementation should not be ignored either. You need to agree on the change initiative’s organization, roles and responsibilities and decision making structure. Corner Stones of the Implementation Phase For the employees accepting the change endorsing, it comes down to very basic human needs. If employees can understand the need for the change, overcome the fear of the unknown and of losing their jobs, they will be much more accommodating towards the change initiative. Change management activities are intended to support the employees in addressing these fears and making the logic behind the change understood. The sense of urgency and necessity are critical in keeping up the momentum with a change initiative. The sense of necessity combined with the understanding of how the change initiative will solve the dire situation facing the organization, will maintain the change activities at the top of the priority list all the way to the finish line. Second factor keeping the initiative on right path is the sense of direction and targets. What is the vision and future state that we are targeting to achieve? Third important factor is the feeling that things are progressing to the right direction. Employees need to see that milestones are being achieved in order to believe that things are on the right track. They also need to have visibility on what is coming up next. Fourth, and last, corner stone is about the feeling of things being under control. Employees need to see that the change leadership team has a good grip on things; Current status is known, issues are getting solved and decisions are being made. Where Can Consultants Help You? Consultants are best utilized as unbiased advisors, experienced coaches and/or methodical change implementation support people. Advisors are people who have already done what you are planning to do. Though, their experience may not have been from exactly the same situation, there should have been enough similarities in their experience so that they can guide you past the shoals and shallow waters. Idea is that they will support you on your journey so that you can avoid hitting every rock on the way to your targets. Coaches will help you rise up to the challenge of leading the change initiative. Coaches are typically quite senior people who have been through thick and thin in there career, they may not be specialized in change management in particular, but they have lead their fair share of change initiatives in addition to other things they have done. They will inspire you to step into the shoes of your stakeholders, take into account the whole scale of different opinions and points of view that are causing concern regarding the change in your organization. They can be the voice of reason to snap you back to reality, if you start to become overly optimistic on your plans. If your organization has not been paying much attention to how the change initiatives are planned and implemented, or you just do not have staff to manage the practical activities needed in planning and implementing change, you would benefit from hiring a trained change management consultant. They will be able to bring in the methodologies, tools and accelerators to give your change initiative the structure it needs. They will help you choose the tools and methodologies needed, and adapt them to best fit for you particular situation. They will also guide you through how to use them, and thereby, free your time to focus on the leadership part of the change management. What Should You Do Differently the Next Time Around?  Plan the change initiative – Describe clearly why the change is needed and in
  5. 5. Point of View to Change Management February, 2014 Page 5 what direction the change will be taking your organization.  Be realistic – Be realistic in assessing your organizations ability to adapt to the change.  Remember the people – Get your employees involved with planning the change, get the buy-in of your key people, and ensure the transparency throughout the change initiative with properly targeted communication.  Lead the change initiative – With your change leadership team lead the change and ensure that it has enough management attention and staff through all of its phases.  Use outside experts wisely – Do not delegate leadership responsibility or decision making, but do take advantage of the lessons learned and best practices. About the Authors Ilkka Schulman is a Director at Cognizant Business Consulting and leads the Strategic Services in the Nordics. He can be reached at Ilkka.Schulman@cognizant.com. Sari Inkilä is a Senior Manager Strategic Services at Cognizant Business Consulting. She can be reached at sari.inkila@cognizant.com. Erik Tjønneland is a Senior Consultant Strategic Services at Cognizant Business Consulting. He can be reached at Erik.Tjonneland@cognizant.com.

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