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Five things a change newbie needs to get curious about

Change management newbies…it’s time to become even more curious!

I haven’t forgotten my entrée to change management. The internet was trending up, I had to dial up to connect, LinkedIn was its infancy and largely unheard of, and there was no Twitter or bloggers to follow. Armed with a background in L&D, I joined whatever dots came my way and cobbled together a change plan. Mentors were rare, and experienced practitioners emerging and sparse.

Luckily, for newbies today, the online landscape is fertile with information and people willing to share their experiences, thoughts, knowledge and wisdom. Perhaps at times, it’s too fertile as we can be overwhelmed by the amount of information that awaits us. It’s common for newbies to ask:

  • Where do I begin?

  • What do I need to know?

Starting in a new occupation that assumes underpinning knowledge of theories, models, terminology, and emerging trends can be just as overwhelming as the volume of information you’ll find when you start with that Google search ‘change management’.

I’ve given this some thought and have identified five things you should find out more about if you are in one of these two groups:

  1. A newbie to change management

  2. A potential newbie to change management

Keep in mind this list is not exhaustive, just the ones that bubble up as ‘really good to know’. Your greatest asset is your curiosity, so start by getting curious about these five things!

Also summed up visually, in an infographic for you on the Resources page on this site.

Five things for change newbies

1. Change frameworks and theories

Be familiar with the well-known change theories and frameworks. You will hear about them and see them referenced in change plans and other documentation. There’s a plethora of information out there. Luckily, there is one brilliant SlideShare compilation by Mark Simpson called ‘The Taxonomy of Change Models’ that has collated many in the one place here.

2. Enterprise Change Maturity Models

Change capability, built at an organisational level, relies on sponsorship and support from senior leadership team members. Enterprise change capability has been represented in change maturity models, where the phases or steps indicate varying levels of change capability and maturity. Maturity models have been developed by industry bodies such as Prosci, Change First, and CMI, and are helpful to read as they describe the characteristics of each level of maturity, from no change management to an optimal level of capability across the business.

3. Find out why the 70% story is a myth

Myth buster alert! You will hear this 70% ‘thing’ quoted again and again. Oh dear, how did this start? Before I start even trying to explain it, I’m grateful that some great work has already been carried out by Dr Jen Frahm in her post to uncover the source of this mis-quoted statistic, along with a great infographic.

I could go as far as to call it a ‘conspiracy theory of change’!

4. What ‘agile’ means for change practitioners

Whether you regard this a hot topic or over-used word, it’s out there and often misunderstood. You will hear the word ‘agile’ used many contexts. Find out as much as you can and keep in mind:

  • You can apply agile practices to any change initiative - it doesn’t have to be a project that is officially declared as ‘agile’. Agile practices are people-centric ones that promote deep engagement

  • There is no ‘one way, same way’ to do ‘agile change’. I explain it as a smorgasbord of practices that you pick from to suit the organisation and the change initiative you’re working on. It draws on a range of agile and lean practices and needs an agile mindset and approach to adapt it so it’s right for your environment.

  • Agile is a way of thinking, a set of behaviours as well as being a set of practices. It’s about and . Look up the Agile Manifesto, read some books such as Jason Little’s book on Lean Change Management, Dr Jen Frahm’s book and blog on what agile CM is, and yes, I will mention my own book here too.

5, Follow the industry and the buzz

Stay abreast of what the industry leaders are thinking, observing, experimenting and learning. There are industry associations, such as Change Management Institute (CMI) and the Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP) which offer events and networking opportunities.

Luckily social media has made it easy to find further information at no cost in the form of blogs, tweets, podcasts, vlogs, YouTube talks - the list goes on… There’s no excuse for not knowing what some of the hot issues are in the industry are right now!

To get started, look at Dr Jen Frahm’s valuable posts on who to follow on Twitter and change management blogs to follow.

Parting thoughts…

So, if you’re relatively new to change management, I’m keen to hear what you found was was ‘good to know’ for a newbie, so we can build some tips for the ones in the pipeline or just starting out.

I’m also interested to hear what experienced practitioners are advising the newbies - what else is really good to know?

Of course, newbies are finding out lots by reading my book ‘Hacking for Agile Change’, as will experienced practitioners and change leaders.

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