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Three universal truths about change

We know change is changing...yet some things do stay the same. Amidst the speed of change and disruption, some things stay the same. These are the universal truths that transcend time. When I spoke to the Digital Transformation Program participants last month, one piece of content I presented was on the three 'Universal Truths of Change'. I'm sure there are many, but these are three that connected well with the themes I was covering.

1. All types of change are about people

Sometimes, when a change initiative is described as a system change or a process change, it’s dismissed as not needing change management support. 'Oh, it’s just a small system change' or 'They just need to change their password after we send them a new link' – you might hear them say. No, this isn’t Candy Crush where you work it out for yourself as new elements are introduced. The fastest way to adoption is to support people through all types of change. All types of change require people to do something differently, think differently or behave differently! All types of change are about people.

2. For each change there is a change initiator and a change receiver Here’s one good reason why people respond differently to change. For each change, there is a change initiator and a change receiver. The initiator is one or more people who have decided to introduce the change. In a formal setting, this is the business decision made at the top and is likely to impact a number of employees. The change receiver typically has little or no say in the decision to introduce the change, and will be impacted by needing to adopt something new and/or perform something differently. As change practitioners, we know that earlier and deeper involvement will improve acceptance and adoption of the change. We also know their response to the change varies depending on their perception. Often, the architect of the change is surprised that others are less enthusiastic about their initiative, so we remind leaders of this in our change leadership programs. One caveat to be mindful of: When change is triggered by a natural disaster or…ahem...a pandemic…this plays out a little differently where the crisis triggers a change that needs to be implemented quickly, often with little time for consultation and engagement. 3. When change is introduced, there is a productivity dip When change is introduced, people need to do something differently. We know when we learn new things, it imposes additional cognitive load on our brains, so we are slowing down while we learn. When people need to do things differently, there will be a dip in productivity that is a hidden cost to the business.

It's these ‘hidden costs’ that our change interventions intend to address. We ensure readiness by analysing the capability gaps. We include approaches, such as training & change champion programs to prepare people for early and fast adoption. Our role is to minimise the impact of the productivity dip so the business benefits are realised earlier.


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