In today’s fast-moving competitive era, there is a new demand for change management professionals. Major research organizations emphasize on the fact that that corporates today are navigating through changing and volatile times. Considering the challenges faced, the need for agility in leveraging opportunities and rapidly evolving threats, demand a paradigm shift in the fundamental change model.
The current change practice is based on the idea of states. There is the ‘Current state – as is’, which is not working for some reason, and the ‘Future state – to be’, which is better. As an ISO 9001-2015 auditor, when I look for the quality management principle ‘Continuous improvement’ in the process of a vertical, I find majority of the changes are a result of strategic initiatives. Many-a-times, it also demands behavioural changes to be instilled in employees. This doesn’t come easily.
New-age organizations implement agile practices to drive early and continuous value recognition for product and capability adoption. Because there is less time and more of structure and processes, the focus of change requirement is on people – change management templates are less useful. There is no E = MC2 formula in people management. Also, there is very less opportunity to formalize, or standardize the process. Change practitioners need to be more adept and need to take judgment calls rapidly, rather than relying on tools and templates.
Hence, the need of the hour is ceaseless change, for which we need to re-visit our change model:
Unfreeze -> Change -> Refreeze Continue
The rate of disruptors requires us to go back to the “state” model of change – The “Unfreeze, Change, Refreeze” approach to something more agile i.e. continuous/ongoing change. This gives employees a platform to understand their roles in a much broader term, than understanding it through rephrasing their JDs.
For the change management professionals, in simple terms, it’s a reinforcement of the fact that the ‘Refreeze’ stage is a myth in change management. Change is a process that can never end. Defining an end in a refreezing stage is criminal – it is as good as bringing people back to a new comfort zone. This equips the stakeholders of a changing organization to retort quickly to their environment in an agile fashion.
Without continuous change, products and organizations perish. The proven example is Apple, and how Apple strategizes; they launch a new model every 8-12 months, not because the old model is not good or outdated, but to keep on constantly re-inventing their core and giving a better user experience. This helps the market leader in making profits, expanding the customer base, while staying connected with them. This phenomenon isn’t restricted to products and organizations only. This is applicable to us individuals as well, which reinforces the fact that the model of change needs to be changed.
The intention behind sharing this thought, is to make a shift from the prevailing change models that we have been following since ages and re-look at it to come up with a more adaptive change model. The ability to upshot continuous change is becoming a necessary core competency. Companies are radically reshaping themselves to come up with unique ideas of products and services. This demands an ongoing appetite for change in every level. Change should be an integral part of the organization culture and employee mindset.
As Change Management Consultants, we’re often asked how Change Management fits in the agile work environment today. The need for change management intervention has arguably increased in this scenario because of its iterative nature, the amount of churn created and consequently, its impact on the organization climate and change-readiness. Agile brings in more immediate disruption, and this disruption is constant. By adopting this new model of change – replacing ‘Refreeze’ to ‘Continue’, change management is empowered to bring in the desired transformation.
Be as agile as change!
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