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Change Management


Change Management

Gandhi – HCM 620 


of us have things we want to change—in our organizations and businesses, in our
communities, and in our families. But where do you start? And how do you
overcome the resistance you’ll face? Dan and Chip Heath, in their book “Switch”
teach a simple, three part framework, based on decades of research in
psychology, that will help you lead change.

those of us who have been involved in Organization Change Management for many
years, we can be seduced by our favorite models and acronyms and
over-intellectualize organization change.  From this position we can become divorced from
the human fundamentals which drive our perceptions and reactions to
change.  In doing so, we make change even harder for us to manage despite
our voluminous and highly rational change management plans.

Way back when, senior executives in large companies had a
simple goal for themselves and their organizations: stability. Shareholders
wanted little more than predictable earnings growth. Because so many markets
were either closed or undeveloped, leaders could deliver on those expectations
through annual exercises that offered only modest modifications to the
strategic plan. Prices stayed in check; people stayed in their jobs; life was

Market transparency, labor mobility, global capital flows,
and instantaneous communications has changed the landscape completely. In most
industries — and in almost all companies, from giants on down — heightened
global competition has concentrated management’s collective mind on something
that, in the past, it happily avoided: change.

This presents most senior executives with a foreign challenge.
In major transformations of large enterprises, they and their advisors conservatively
focus their attention on devising the best strategic and tactical plans. But to
succeed, they also must have an intimate understanding of the human side of
change management — the alignment of the company’s culture, values, people, and
behaviors — to encourage the desired results. Plans themselves do not capture
value; value is realized only through the sustained, collective actions of the
thousands — perhaps the tens of thousands — of employees who are responsible
for designing, executing, and living with the changed environment.


Following this discussion, viewing
of the video, and perhaps reading the book you will know:


Why some changes are excruciating
and others are easy;

Why most organizational changes
never generate the momentum they need;

How to break through the “decision
paralysis” that can doom a change effort;

How to spot and clone the “bright
spots” that can point the way forward;

Why knowledge is not enough to spark
change—and what will spark it

How tweaking the environment in
minor ways can trigger big changes in behavior.



The video discusses an overview of
the Heath brothers’ concept of change management.

Important Points:

Long-term structural transformation has four characteristics:
scale (the change affects all or most of the organization), magnitude (it
involves significant alterations of the status quo), duration (it lasts for
months, if not years), and strategic importance. Yet companies will reap the
rewards only when change occurs at the level of the individual employee.

The central premise of this book is that we put most of our energies into
treating organization change management as primarily a rational exercise. When
change gets hard we pull on the ‘rational lever’ even harder which can be
counter-productive. Chip and Dan Heath assert that we need to devote as much
effort to the emotional reaction to change as we do to the intellectual side,
for change to stick. In doing so, we can find an emotional connection (other
than fear) with those being impacted by the change, to the change outcomes and
increase their commitment and motivation to the change. 

The Heath brothers challenge us to step outside our preconceptions, our
sophisticated models and rational thinking about effective change management
and take us for a ride on an elephant… Sounds bizarre however they have found
the value in tapping into the elephant’s heart along with its head. We all know
this intuitively but how much effort do we really put into this area?

Using the metaphor of riding an elephant let this point be deconstructed:

To emphasize this point the authors use the story of trying to reduce
infections in a hospital and finding the positive emotional connection with
staff. This challenge was re-defined as “saving 100,000 lives through reduced
infections” and as such created and emotional connection for the hospital

Another simple but powerful concept the Heath Bros highlight is the power of
“bright spots”. These bright spots are successful efforts worth emulating. The
authors provide a story of the power of ‘bright spots’ related to the challenge
of reducing malnutrition in Vietnam. Rather than going to areas where children
were malnourished the researchers instead went to where the children were
healthy and found the ‘bright spots’ to understand what caused this to happen.
This approach, although very effective, is counter-intuitive for most of us
because we tend seek out solutions by focusing on situations where things are
going wrong.


I found this book to be very interesting, engaging
and informative because the Heath brothers achieve a good balance of
storytelling, research and practical tips.  Most of the work I have been involved in relates
to change (health care prevention efforts, new programs and ideas).   I enjoyed
the opportunity to step outside the rigid and rational intellectual constructs
and look at change from a fundamental and humanistic perspective.   I had the opportunity to hear Chip Heath give
the keynote speech at one of the top national educational conferences (ASCD) in
March of this year.  His talk was
fascinating and his book even more so.

Maybe just maybe, we change management practitioners are responsible for making
change even harder to implement.  Join me
in the challenge of suppressing our highly rational and complex paradigms, and;

-    Find the bright spots
-    Connect with the heart

Our efforts will be rewarded.  


Heath, C, & Heath, D. (2010). Switch: how to
change things when change is hard
. New York, NY: Crown Business.

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