Our lives, personal and professional, have been disrupted in a way that many of us may have never imagined. As schools and businesses close, people find themselves isolated from colleagues, friends and family, and sometimes facing this challenge alone. Everything that we took for granted seems to be upside down and inside out. And there is no definitive end in sight.
The first article in this series focuses on the Region of Peel’s bold decision to pilot and implement a ground breaking approach for dealing with people living with dementia. This model of care has proven effective at dramatically enhancing residents’ quality of life and wellbeing, their family’s satisfaction and involvement, as well as employee engagement, fulfillment and retention, all while reducing the number of incidents, and creating more positive relationships all around. Key information for this piece comes from an interview with Mary Connell, Project Manager for the Butterfly Initiative Implementation at the Region of Peel.
George was sitting quietly at the back of the room when he suddenly came to life. “But you don’t understand. All this talk about getting ‘sponsors’ on board is all well and good, but what do you do when your sponsor is basically invisible?” A roomful of participants nodded in agreement as George continued. “We can’t get sponsors to show up at meetings, they won’t make decisions that affect the project, they don’t allocate the resources we need. They might as well be ghosts!”
When I first started as an MBA student, I attended the Managing Change MBA course taught by Dr. Carol A. Beatty at Queen’s. During that time Dr. Beatty’s research was focused on collecting data from organizations about successful and unsuccessful change management projects. I am pleased to introduce Carol’s e-book The Easy, Hard & Tough Work of Managing Change.
This free e-book walks you through the change management process, from start to finish. It's based on more than 20 years of Dr. Carol A. Beatty’s research, and identifies not only the easy and hard work in change management, but also the tough work that is often neglected by change leaders, who place too much emphasis on high-level change planning and not enough emphasis on implementation.
Creating energy, engagement, and commitment to change initiatives is one of many challenges we face as change agents. Increasingly, organizations, managers, and change practitioners espouse a belief that involving people in the change initiative is important. Many of us would agree in principle with this philosophy: Participation is essential to successful change implementation. However, the practical dimension of how to actually accomplish employee participation in change initiatives poses a challenge to change implementers.
Homelessness is often viewed as a daunting, if not a wicked problem. Yet, Alberta has shown the way to solutions that deliver results. In contrast with other Canadian jurisdictions who favour municipal approaches, Alberta broke new ground in 2009 by defining an ambitious vision for the entire province: Ending homelessness in 10 years, instead of simply ‘managing’ or ‘reducing’ it.
When Hunter Harrison joined the recently-privatized Canadian National Railway (CNR) in 1998 as Chief Operating Officer, the company was generally acknowledged as one of the worst railroads in North America, highly indebted, perpetually in the red, and losing market share to the more efficient, flexible and newly deregulated U.S. railway and trucking industries.
Can you recall a time when you experienced a major change in your organization? Perhaps like others around you, you experienced a roller coaster of emotions: excitement that at long last something was going to happen to change the status quo, confusion about the specifics of the intended changes, and anxiety about what it could mean for you, your team, and even your family. Change can be disruptive, both professionally and personally.
Most experts would agree that communication is a vital ingredient in successful change initiatives, and there is much research to support this assertion. My own research revealed a very high correlation between change success and communications efforts (Pearson correlation r = 0.567, significant at the 0.01 level). Furthermore, it has also been shown that ineffective internal communication is a major contributor to the failure of change initiatives.
Dealing with resistance is tough work, but avoiding this work only makes change more difficult. When facing major change, management tends to view the new direction as an opportunity, while employees face the change with feelings of uncertainty, fear and disruption. Furthermore, most change leaders underestimate the amount of resistance they will face. However, as this case shows, external conditions, trust in the organization, and skillful handling of resistance can all contribute to lessening resistance and increasing support for a change initiative.
After you know who will lead a change initiative, why the change is necessary and what future you are trying to create, you come to the “how”—the activities you must plan to implement the change successfully. This is tough work because of the countless details that must be thought through and included in a change rollout plan. Forget something crucial here, and your change may be in jeopardy, as is highlighted in the following case study.
Most experts advocate creating a vision as a necessary step in any change initiative. But managers have a tough time following this advice. Change vision statements are often too long, too confusing or too generic to motivate action in the direction of the change. It's tough to condense the vision into a couple of sentences or paragraphs that sing, but it is worthwhile to try. A clear vision is important for change leaders to think through because it forces you to identify exactly what you are aiming for instead of some vague, fuzzy or rosy picture of the future.
The statistics about the implementation of change in organizations are dismal. For decades now, business writers from all walks of life have been bemoaning the large failure rate of change projects. For example, one study reported that 70 percent of critical change efforts fail to achieve their intended results. Additionally, more executives are fired for mismanaging change than other reasons, such as ignoring customers.
The literature on change management contains a lot of advice about formulating a change idea and planning it at a high level but much less on how to implement the idea once it has been created. For example, although strategy implementation is viewed as an integral part of the strategic management process, little has been written or researched on it. Likewise, in the public sector there is a great deal of advice on how to formulate public policy, and many academic courses teach this.
Two groups are crucial to any change project: planners and implementers. The planners, typically more senior than the implementers, must answer some important questions before they hand over the initiative for implementation. When these questions are not dealt with adequately, the initiative can get off to a shaky start. In this paper, I will give you those key questions and also advice for overcoming what I call the "iron curtain between planning and implementation."
The first thing people want to know when a change is proposed is why this change is necessary. If you don't have a very good answer, then they will not buy into your change initiative. Statistics show that having a good percentage of supporters at the outset of a change initiative is strongly associated with success. This paper addresses how to create the felt need for change and a sense of urgency for the change throughout the organization.
Innovation is a key driver in organizational sustainability, and yes, openness and transparency are a recipe for innovation. But, according to Tapscott and Williams, “when it comes to innovation, competitive advantage and organizational success, ‘openness’ is rarely the first word one would use to describe companies and other societal organizations like government agencies or medical institutions. For many, words like ‘insular,’ ‘bureaucratic,’ ‘hierarchical,’ ‘secretive’ and ‘closed’ come to mind instead.”
Over the past two years Humber College has undergone significant change towards being strategically positioned as the leader in Polytechnic education in Ontario. In September 2013 Humber launched a revitalized brand to support student success. In supporting Humber’s value of innovation, HR Services over the next year and a half, will undertake a transformational change initiative to our HR systems most notably with the design and implementation of a new HRMS technology business platform for managing our HR processes. This paper represents the first in a series of papers that will follow this case study throughout its project lifecycle and describe the College’s journey in implementing a major change initiative.
How do you change the culture in a workplace where workers don’t trust the leaders, where employees are not engaged, and where people just don’t care about doing their jobs? A few months ago, I was speaking to a group of senior leaders and the topic of changing culture and increasing employee engagement came up. The conversation started innocuously, with a comment like, “There’s too many potholes in the road and you can’t get people, whose job it is to fill potholes, to care.”
In early 2013, the Government of Alberta (GoA) Ministry of Innovation and Advanced Education’s review of their organizational structure began. This was part of an overall GoA-wide commitment to reviewing ministry structures. The intent was to ensure that the roles within the organization and branch/divisional structures, aligned with the current and future business needs. The executive team supported this approach and agreed that the Queen’s IRC’s model of organizational design, or the 4-D’s, was the process the department would use to complete the reviews.
Are you the leader of a change effort and stuck in the weeds? Have you read the latest Change Management book, but no one seems to be following you? Are you frustrated that your team or your organization seem to have forgotten that you shared your vision with them already? It could be that you have a sense of your vision but you haven’t defined it in detail. It could be that your vision doesn’t captivate your team. It could be that you are focusing your efforts on creating the perfect plan.
The Ontario mining industry in the mid-70’s faced accident rates higher than any other industrial sector. In 1976, there were 19 fatalities, 12.5 lost time injuries (LTI’s) per 100 workers. Wildcat strikes by miners in Elliot Lake and considerable political pressure on a minority government, led to the creation of the Royal Commission on Health and Safety of Workers in Mines.
The structure of any organization is key to its ability to function productively. In my role of chief executive officer for the Professional Association of Resident Physicians of Alberta (PARA), I was concerned that our organizational form wasn't aligned with our intended function. My challenge was to take a group of volunteer resident physicians through a design process that would enable our organization to more effectively live its mission: representation for physicians completing further training in a residency program; advocacy for excellence in education and patient care; and optimal working conditions and personal well-being for all its members.