Saturday, November 10, 2012

Has Change Management Changed?

Change management is a structured process to help public institutions, private companies and individuals adapt to extensive change of all kinds. For example, if a large military base is closed in an area that depends heavily on the installation for employment and economic health, there will be many extensive changes that are both complicated and difficult to predict in advance. Such attempts to have an organized approach for coping with a changing business, government and financial environment have understandably provided mixed results. Is there a better way to deal with change?

If any attempted solution is not dealing satisfactorily with a specific problem, even change management strategies should realistically be changed in an effort to find workable solutions. Managing change successfully requires a delicate balance of the following elements:
  • Flexibility
  • Creativity
  • Collaboration
  • Management (one of only two words in "change management")
  • Planning
While there are multiple results which are not identical, the lack of effective management and planning is frequently a major contributing factor when change management efforts do not succeed. Some pertinent planning and change management advice from an individual often referred to as "The Man Who Invented Management" is provided in the following Peter Drucker quote:

    "Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window. The best way to predict the future is to plan it."

Changes in the banking industry provide an illustration of why change management strategies are frequently not the answer to many situations involving extensive change. Few industries have changed more than banks during recent years. Individuals and companies faced with bank services that have been restructured are faced with uncertainty as to what their new financial choices are. In some ways it is a situation that is not so different from the previous example of how a community was impacted when a military base closed. Banks have been a core member of communities for many years, but banks have suddenly changed and there is not an organized change management strategy to help.

In this banking example and many other similar situations involving change without a formal change management process, individuals and businesses of all sizes are left to manage and plan their own strategic response. This uncertain and confusing scenario is almost certain to result in many different paths being followed. Some are likely to do nothing while others will do their best to produce an improved outcome via planning and managing. For example, many small business owners are still having difficulty in obtaining needed commercial loans and working capital from their bank. Some of these small businesses will formulate a plan to solve their financial problem and some will not. Whatever we call change management, alternatives need to be evaluated and choices must be made. As is often the case in many complex situations, individual results may vary.

Stephen Bush is Chief Executive Officer of AEX Commercial Financing Group and is a small business planning expert. Steve provides help for small business owners throughout the United States and Canada. Please contact Stephen Bush for practical and candid advice about change management strategies for small businesses.

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