CHANGE - 'Evolution not revolution'
Managing change is a challenging and often unsuccessful process. It seems to have developed a discipline of its own – specialist external consultants who have unique skills that can guide and facilitate the process to a successful conclusion (and to be fair this can sometimes be the case). Frequently though, special tools and techniques are employed to help manage the change process and sadly a focus on the change process itself can contribute to its lack of success.

All organisations and indeed individuals working in them are required to change and the process of change needs to be an integral part of the business management framework. The biggest barrier to change often results from the reluctance of individuals or groups to accept or embrace the need for change. This is often the result of poor communication, lack of effective leadership and weak planning. The change process is much more about leadership, communication, planning, involvement and participation than it is about “change management tools”. Each and every change process is unique and requires a bespoke approach. Experience has shown that top management needs to drive and be actively involved in major changes to an organisation. It is usually prudent to invite individuals directly impacted by the planned changes to contribute to the implementation of the change plan – this way; the process becomes inclusive and diminishes the perception of a “top down” approach. Organise teams with responsibility and accountability for implementing the change programme tasks and appoint internal “change agents” to coordinate the programme and communicate progress back to all staff. Recognise and reward those who make a significant personal contribution to the success of the programme.

The factors in successful change are similar to many other business related initiatives – Clear vision, defined goals, careful planning, communication, staff involvement, feedback on progress, evidence of benefits, gaining early commitment and above all, strong leadership at all levels. Aim for a change process where the change appears to be a natural evolution of the organisation and environment – try not to make the change process a high profile management initiative as this can oversell the benefits and lead to disappointment and perceived failure.

It is often desirable for an organisation to achieve growth in a progressive and sustainable way – rapid change is sometimes unavoidable but; is wise to be aware that it can result in a rapid and uncontrollable decline. Opt for evolution not revolution. There are many examples of rapid growth followed by a rapid fall.
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