At last month’s Organization Change Alliance meeting in Atlanta, five panelists shared their experience with building change capability within their organizations. When answering a question about methodology, every panelist said that they customized their approach to suit the organization and the change initiatives they were implementing. In fact, following any one methodology exactly was a good way to get stuck.
What can you do with a standard change approach to make it work for your organization? The following are some of the ways you can customize your favorite methodology.**
When introducing a change management approach into an organization, it can be helpful to rebrand it. For example, ESPN once developed a 4-stage change process with – you guessed it – a sports theme. Branding change within an organization aligns it with something people already identify with, like mission or values, and can conjure emotions that support your change initiative.
Certain words are off-limits for some organizations – one common one is “change” itself! “Transformation” or “engagement” may be less repulsive. Consultant-speak, like “stakeholder analysis,” “readiness assessment,” or [insert any acronym] can also turn people off. To avoid causing resistance towards the change process, consider altering your terminology to make it more palatable.
You may also want to modify change tools, like templates and assessments, so they will work for the people who need to use them. Design tools not only to help people be successful, but also so they will actually use them. For example, you may develop a short change checklist for leaders that fits on one page, because you know that anything more complicated will be ignored.
Because one size does not fit all, no one methodology is a panacea. It’s important to have a working knowledge of multiple change approaches, which allows you to combine the best features to fit the situation. You can also go outside the change management field to get ideas for leadership, communications, and team and organizational effectiveness to support your efforts.
**To make a change management approach work for your organization, you may have to make it their own. That said, please don’t steal or plagiarize someone else’s intellectual property. If you’d like to adopt or modify someone’s published approach, the right thing to do is ask for permission and pay the licensing fee if there is one.
How have you customized your organization’s change approach? Please share in the comments.