Imagine a company in multiple locations losing 1 million dollars daily without knowing that it’s from the inefficient use of technology; an outdated process and software- both they enjoy. Imagine a premiership team with highly talented and overpriced players moving to relegation on the league table, not because of the lack of individual skills but committed collaboration. Don’t we all have our version of this in our firms?
As a leader how can you change things; even if you know how, can you drive it?
Change is constant, but planned change is a variable. When the stress of where we are becomes more than the stress to change, we’ll move. At that point, planned change will happen. .
What Really is Change Management?
Change management is an approach to transitioning individuals, teams, and organizations to a desired future state. The main aim of this exercise is to help the identified and conceptualised innovation into fruition using change agents, concepts and steps.
One of the earliest models of planned change was provided by Kurt Lewin. He conceived of change as modification of those forces keeping a system’s behavior stable. Specifically, a particular set of behaviors at any moment in time is the result of two groups of forces: those striving to maintain the status quo and those pushing for change. When both sets of forces are about equal, current behaviors are maintained in what Lewin termed a state of “quasi-stationary equilibrium.” To change that state, one can increase those forces pushing for change, decrease those forces maintaining the current state, or apply some combination of both. .
As Lewin put it, “Motivation for change must be generated before change can occur”.
According to Lewin, the most effective way to engineer change is to see the system in need of change like an iced water shape you want to reshape. It must go through the stages, Unfreezing, then making the Change and Refreezing. Let’s attempt to break this down.
First you must melt the ice to make it amendable to change (unfreeze). Then you must mold the iced water into the shape you want (change). Finally, you must solidify the new shape (refreeze). So in other words, there are three stages of change management.
- Unfreezing : opening up the minds of the subject ( team) for a need and acceptance to change. You have to break them out of the old order. Unfreezing means getting people to gain perspective on their day-to-day activities, unlearn their old ways, bad habits, attitudes, and old and limiting beliefs and open up to new ways of reaching their objectives.
- Change : Taken up new tasks and responsibility. It’s the implementing phase. This refers to the To-Dos and actually doing it.
- Refreeze : is making the change permanent. Creating compliance mechanism and making the new order stick
To buttress these points, let’s explore some more case studies as we run through the three phases of Change Management ( Unfreeze, Change and Refreeze)
Imagine a company that has been using outdated software for its operations or a team not collaborating well. The employees are used to the old system and are hesitant to embrace the new software or new means of collaboration . In order to unfreeze, the management could start a fearful but data driven campaign on what the current software or lack of collaboration is causing the team ( perhaps how much productivity and money is either lost or left on the table). And then building up more of that awareness as they hold workshops explaining the benefits of the new software, highlighting how it would make their tasks easier and more efficient. They might also share stories of other successful transitions to new software in similar organizations.
Continuing with the software upgrade and team collaboration examples, once the employees are more open to the idea of change, the actual transition begins. Training sessions are conducted to help the employees become familiar with the new software’s features and functionalities. They can even appoint influencers and change agents and pleasant drivers and experts to champion and engage more people into it. This is the phase where the change is implemented, and employees start using the new system for their daily tasks.
After the employees have successfully transitioned to the new software, it’s important to solidify the change and make it a lasting part of the organization. The company could establish a support system for any questions or issues related to the software or team collaborations. They can develop manuals, SOPs and Poka Yoke ( Japanese word for fool proof/error proofing to prevent misuse). They might also set up regular check-ins to gather feedback from employees and continuously improve the system. This ensures that the change becomes a permanent part of the company’s operations.
Change is constant, change is inevitable; you either drive in or get consumed by it. And in the words of Jack Welsh, “change before you have to.” Let’s show you how at Hexavia!
Strategy. Business StartUps and Corporate Restructuring Consulting
Uwaoma Eizu is the lead strategist at Hexavia! He is a graduate of Mathematics with two MBAs and over a decade of experience working with startups and big businesses. His core is in building startups and in corporate restructuring. He is also a certified member of the Nigerian Institute of Management, Institute of Strategic Management of Nigeria and the Project Management Institute, USA. By the side, he writes weekly for the BusinessDay newspaper.