It’s that time of year when we start journalling our reviews of the year (thank you Gilbert Kruidenier for an excellent review) and thinking about what we predict will happen in 2019. So in that spirit, here’s what I predict…

1) Accreditation will matter less than ever

The market is now too confused with the hyper-fragmentation of accreditations and the general disdain for trying to make some-one a change practitioner in 2-3 days and will give up caring. Clients and organisations recruiting will revert to the old-fashioned informal network – did this person do a good job?

Take-away: Your reputation matters more than ever, make sure you are capturing feedback on what you do well, and what you need to improve.

2) The internal / organisational communications function will continue to become smaller / leaner and in danger of extinction.

Some-where along the line Internal / organisational comms practitioners have lost their influence – I suspect this is because they have steadfastly clung to formal structures of control and reluctantly got on board with social networks. It’s a real shame, there has never been a greater need for strategic consideration of the communicative climate of organisations and savvy ways to manage information overload. Dismissing or reducing communication teams so we can be “organic” just doesn’t work in practice and selfishly, makes life difficult for change practitioners.

Take-away: Change practitioners start building your knowledge and skillset in organisational communication – consider joining associations like IABC. Comms people, could be a good time for a career change into the change arena. Now some-what paradoxically, this is where an accreditation become helpful for you. Adding a methodology to your tool kit will help you make the transition.

3) We will see a dedicated focus on self-care and offerings that promote self-care for senior practitioners.

Occupational burnout becomes an increasing issue as the change practitioners age. Once you have 20 years + experience of organisational change programs which includes toxic handling and emotional labour, there is a build up that can lead to burn out. Other professions e.g. counselling, therapists etc have institutional structures and practices that deal with that (e.g. supervision). To date, the change management profession does not. Helen Palmer’s Self Unlimited Folkscape Community might be a way forward with that.

Take-away: there are opportunities here for occupational self-care retreats. Don’t wait for the industry to do it if you need it. Plenty of resources online about self-care.

4) Frustratingly, there will continue to be low hanging fruit from a change management perspective in organisations.

Often we don’t need to be anymore sophisticated than the basics of working with leaders to communicate the vision, and design with the audience in mind (or better still with the audience full stop). It is important for change practitioners to evolve in their practice, and this means different practices and different tools. But we are still desperately needing the basics in most of our organisations.

Take-away: Keep focused on the basics and try to avoid shiny ball syndrome! Patience, persistence.

People who cry Change Management is Dead will still be selling books and workshops on …. Change management.

“Change Management is Dead” has become the marketing cry that “70% of change efforts fail is”. Both slogans set up a case to sell you more of what they have. The troubling bit is what is then sold is more change management. Change Management for Zombies perhaps, died and resurrected.  None of the “Change Management is Dead” crew have produced anything that is  new and NOT change management. So it does tend to perpetuate ignorance on what change management is and can be. Do I sound grumpy? Perhaps (although I would argue I am just so very tired of this BS) – Jason Little would argue it’s because my livelihood depends on change management being frozen, live forever. Not quite right — my very public work history would suggest that is not the case, change management like any profession needs to evolve. He is correct, that my stance is based on a belief that those that espouse the death of change management have a very limited understanding of what organisational change management is.Case in point – the latest book from Silke Hermann and  Niels Pflaeging – Open Space Beta: Handbook for Organizational Transformation, marketed on the claims that Change Management is Dead. It’s a really useful read (I do recommend you get it) It takes you through a framework for evolving Open Space Technology – a change facilitation process developed in the 80’s by Owen Harrison (and this is acknowledged by Hermann and Pflaeging). Many of us use variations of OST. It is a change management practice.

Take away: Don’t be alarmed, revert to Point 4. Keep focused and keep at it. Do read Jason’s full article, there’s some really good insights in it. Do follow Nils Pflaeging, his provocations make for a better profession. 

Alrighty, there you have it – that’s what I am calling my predictions for 2019. Over to you – what are you seeing in the Crystal Ball?

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