On the 9th October, Neil White, a Change Management specialist and APM Enabling Change SIG committee member, gave a presentation entitled ‘The need for Why and the importance of How’ in which he described how answers to these two key questions helps pave the way for successful change outcomes.
The backdrop for this presentation is the rate and scale of world change with the scene being set for it to change much faster. Neil described how much change is a product of our Capitalist way of living and as long as profit is favoured over societal values then we must be prepared to tolerate continual change.
The presentation started with a ‘just for fun’ quiz to guess the dates of some of the top 25 inventions of all time. A ‘throwable’ microphone was used to good effect to let people share their thoughts on what the benefits and disbenefits of each invention had been. The dates of these inventions were plotted on a graph to describe the exponential increase in technologically determined change. It was emphasised that Technology enabled innovation – continues to revolutionise the way we work and has opened up vast number of new markets. It has reduced cost and raised expectations and is undoubtedly the greatest catalyst for change in modern times – today though, such developments almost always result in a loss of jobs.
The impact that globalisation is having on the world and that we were increasingly exposed to world events which we have little warning and no control over but to which we have little choice but to respond was described. Globalisation (enabled through technology) is one of today’s greatest change drivers. Our customers are now our competitors; they have learned to innovate for themselves and of course we had already enabled their ability to manufacture!
How certain aspects of economically driven change can be forecast and how the scene is set for a good period of growth and prosperity was described. However, where the wealth is down to technological progress it almost always increases the wealth of the already wealthy.
Neil referred to a number of specific change management principles to describe the reason why the question WHY is so important to stakeholders. A key message was the role that 'respect' plays in meeting the change challenges faced by our organisations. He emphasised that people must be increasingly respected as the most powerful and long-lasting tool in the armoury. Such is our need for shorter and more dynamic change lifecycles that an organisation’s people should not only be involved in the change process but also enabled to resolve how objectives are to be achieved for themselves.
Neil explained how we already have the tools and disciplines needed to effect organisational change successfully but that success depended on how our organisations choose to implement them. Neil draws our attention to the importance for organisations to develop and continually adapt their own ‘unique’ change management capabilities.