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In follow up to the last post, here are the next two barriers I see as being critical to overcome before we (as a community of change managers) can sell the value of change. They both relate to competing tension of change management. Competing tensions are hard. They are hard because neither side is the right one, they are always two aspects of organisation that require careful balance. And a little too much emphasis on one, means we go belly up!

 3) The competing tension between BAU and Transformation

Business as usual (BAU) has very different requirements of a change manager than transformation programs do. By BAU change I am talking about continuous improvement, six sigma, lean, and innovation programs. Transformative change is that which is large scale, ambitious and makes substantive change to the culture, structure or business model of the organisation. The tools, style and role of the change manager is distinctly different. It therefore follows that value of change management differs. And we need to be distinct in articulating this difference.

How do we progress?

Getting over this hurdle starts with recognising the difference and being clear on role and responsibilities. Hire those that are fit for purpose. Educate the business stakeholders on how the two change goals differ.

4) The competing tension between organisational values

The last hurdle to cover is the competing values within our organisations. Our organisations want to be innovative but also follow “proper process”.  Agility clashes with governance, competiveness fights with safety. These competing values frustrate us, and confuse us with how we are meant to work.

How do we progress? 

Focus on the bridging values. Bridging values are ones that have some connection with the two competing values. So if for instance you are working in an organisation that wishes to embrace agility (speed, reactive) and safety (slow, proactive) focus on a value that can align with each, for example ‘quality’. Quality and agility do not compete, nor does quality and safety. Use a bridging quality to define your change management activities.

So that was the gist of the thought provokers in the presentation. As I indicated, it was a really inspiring community of change managers and I am keen to see if this is an outlier or an indication of new level of maturity of the industry as a whole… I guess time will tell?

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Dr Jen Frahm – Author of Conversations of Change: A guide to implementing workplace change.

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