Wednesday, 29 March 2017

5 elements of Change Management

Last evening, a dear friend and I got talking about Change Management. She is trying to effect behaviour change that leads to better Health and Safety compliance at an organisation.
She told me the very interesting story of the chimney cleaners in Britain, and how a society moved from children to mechanised cleaning. We spoke about a LOT of other change situations across sectors - familial, social, business, individual, national. And then, we were able to identify the top 5 elements that we observed in every case.
  1. Awareness
The first thing to happen, is awareness of a possibility. To know that a different car policy is available to someone else. To see your child's potential partner at a social event to which their friends are invited, to observe the rituals of a different culture.

2. Investment
I have written earlier about the importance of investment in effecting change. It doesn't matter whether the investment is positive or negative. If they are taking the time to criticise you, they are invested.

3. Acceptance
This is the conative-affective component of change. The vital place where people understand and accept the need to change. This should ideally lead to a decision to change, but that's not always true. Sometimes, even when the affective(emotional) component of change is conquered, it is not converted to action. (Think: Diet-Exercise-Meditation-HSE et al)

4. Modification
This is where the months of hard work bear fruit. When the final behaviour modification happens - spontaneously and through unaided recall. When people display behaviour that is in the direction of the intended change, we know that they will do it without supervision and on their own.

5. Mandate
I saved this one for the last. Remember the chimney sweepers? The first mechanical chimney sweep was created in 1803. Yet human chimney sweepers continued to be used  - until the British Parliament was forced to pass the Chimney Sweepers Act in 1875. A mandate is a curious element of change management. Applied at the right time and in the right way, it can catalyse change much faster. Yet, applied at the wrong time, or incorrectly, it can completely reverse the direction of persuasive change. (Think: Social reforms anywhere in the world, OR policy changes at your organisation)

Note: I have studied and worked on Change Management in communities and organisations. This "alternative perspective" article draws heavily from the work of Behaviour Modification Therapy, Complex Change Agent from Human Systems Dynamics Institute, and the theory of consumer behaviour change. Am grateful to all of them.

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