Implementing change in an organization is never easy. More often than not, change fails on more than one level of an organization for many reasons. Maybe it’s lack of buy-in from those affected or a poor strategy from the start.
Whatever the reason, change management is quite simple in theory, but in reality, it is quite a difficult task. To create change in an organization, the culture must also change.
How you look at change will affect the success of change. Sometimes you are the one creating change; you are looking down at your organization.
Maybe you are the one affected by change; you are looking up trying to understand the reasoning behind the drive for change. Perhaps you are somewhere in the middle; change is being pushed down from the top and it is your job to ensure that your organization complies with the new guidance.
Mike Myatt, Forbes Magazine, breaks down change management in his article, “How to Lead Change: 3 Simple Steps.” They are: identifying the need for change, leading change and managing change.
As a leader, it is important to recognize the need for change in the organization, Myatt said. As DOD members, we are challenged in every task to complete our given mission with only the necessary resources and manpower needed. This challenge drives a need for change; the need to seek out more effective and efficient ways to carry out our duties.
However, this task, as simple as it seems, is far from simple. If you go back to step one of Myatt’s plan, we must identify the change. That is the easy part. The second step, leading change, becomes more challenging. Leaders must identify all those affected by the change and reach out to the advocates that will create momentum. Managing change is the last and very critical part of the process. The vision must be clear and those affected must have stock in what that vision is. The change agents have to be responsible and held accountable for ensuring their part of the change is carried out.
Creating effective change does not end with making a decision and pushing it down the pipe. To be effective, the muscle memory of the organization must shift. You may have the perfect strategy and a great plan, but that means nothing if the organization defaults to muscle memory. Culture will always overtake strategy.
The final piece of managing change is making it stick; erase the old methods and ensure the change becomes the norm.