Don’t Be Seduced by Change Management Tools

Industry Week recently ran a great article on change management tool seduction and the damage these tools, and the programs they support, can cause, which include:

  • Wasted Time
    The wrong change programs will do nothing but consume time that could be better spent on other tasks. For example, documenting all of your processes only to find out they’re poor isn’t worthwhile
  • Increased Politics
    Employees might look upon it as punishment, and rebel, or simply use any new data that results from the effort to try and blame other departments for organizational failings.
  • Functional Distractions
    Employees might get caught up trying to figure out how to meet the new requirements rather than working towards process improvement.
  • Strategic Misdirection
    If the change management program selected doesn’t actually improve product or service quality, it’s pointless.

Change management, and change management tools, only work if you’re implementing the right changes, and not the latest fad, cliche, or feel-good organizational change theory. You don’t change just because your competitor did. You change because a detailed analysis caused you to conclude that you will likely see a significant return from going through the effort. You change because your analysis revealed that the process improvements you identified will have a positive impact on your operations and will increase efficiency, reduce costs, and improve quality.

So how do you know if you’re on the right path? The Industry Week article had some great advice for determining whether you’ve embarked on a successful change management project or been seduced by the latest change management tool (or fad). Specifically, if one or more of the following five scenarios exists at your company, you might have to adjust your plans in order to reap benefit from your change management initiative:

  • Tool Tossing
    Are managers trying to solve problems just by throwing technology at the situation? Technology is an enabler, not a solution upon itself.
  • Consultant Lure
    Are consultants repeatedly brought in to tell you what most of the organization already knows?
  • Buzzwords
    Do managers use buzzwords excessively, particularly with the goal of making themselves look knowledgeable?
  • Change Program of the Week
    Has your company introduced so many change programs in the last few years that your staff feels whiplashed?
  • Plan Blindness
    If management believes that a plan in and of itself is progress, look out!

If you want to get help finding and staying on the right path, the article also offers some advice on how to assess the likely impact of a potential change management program to determine if it’s right for you. It’s definitely worth a read.