Tactics for Change Managers

A couple of years back I was asked to put together a couple of slides that outlined useful tactics for change managers / mobilisers / business coaches when implementing a new process or way of working.  Most “change management” is fairly formulaic and once a new business design, service or system is in place the human side is ignored.  Anyway in no particular order here are some useful tactics for change managers:

  1. Make the business design viable in the eyes of all stakeholders
  2. Don’t be restricted or trapped by conventions used / adopted / subscribed to from previous projects.  What happened in the past doesn’t necessarily mean that it will happen in the future
  3. People need to be mobilised through new experiences – People believe through what they experience, not necessarily through what they see or hear
  4. Give the target constituency a compelling stake in the future of the organisation – there has to be something in it for them
  5. See the situation for what it is and don’t read too much into it either way, i.e. if it doesn’t work accept it and adapt; if it does work, well fine, but don’t get too smug and complacent.  All success is for you client’s benefit not your own self–aggrandisement
  6. Where possible let them design (with guidance / prodding where necessary)
  7. Don’t over-coach as too much coaching will be seen as interference which leads to an unnatural state of affairs
  8. Recognise when you are no longer relevant
  9. Mobilisation without measurement is pointless.  MI should not be work for the client but should be a natural part of the work which helps with its enhancement
  10. Get up to speed with the politics as soon as is practical
  11. Work out who is/isn’t on your side quickly – this is not as hard as it seems and is as obvious as it was your school playground
  12. Don’t be too proud to admit it when part of the business design won’t fly for practical reasons
  13. Recognise when it is necessary to withdraw and live to fight another day
  14. Tell good realistic stories that are not sugar-coated but acknowledge that people have been knocked out of joint and the amount of work required to re-orient them.  That way they’ll accept that you are not a bullshitter but a serious and realistic person
  15. Be flexible and move quickly as the design takes shape.  Ideally a design should be agreed and have the maximum buy-in as is politically possible before mobilisation.  Otherwise you are dead in the water before you start.  Too much change in a design will confuse both the Mobiliser and the client and will lead to a potentially fatal loss of credibility
  16. Don’t shy away from tough conversations.  You are not doing your job if you are having easy conversations all the time. ( You are most likely being taken for a ride)
  17. Welcome negativity and be able to recognise where it is coming from and why
  18. Recognise when you’re being taken for a ride, and don’t stand for it, as they’re wasting your time and your budget
  19. Solutions must be framed in a way that shows new and improved possibilities
  20. Recognise and act on breakdowns immediately – An inability to call a breakdown can have dire consequences further down the line.
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