Two things happened in the last week which have caused some concern and consternation at Able and How Towers.
Firstly, I attended an event, which despite its success and value left me scratching my head. The event was on the topic of enterprise change management. I thought I was familiar with most of the language and approaches surrounding my profession, but this set of words was new to me: “enterprise change management”.
Secondly, a member of the team received a McKinsey email which had a link to an insights piece on harnessing the power of digital in US government agencies. To access the article I clicked a call to action labelled ‘catalyze change’. This was a new phrase and one which I wasn’t quite sure of the meaning.
Both episodes have led to some discussion and debate in the office. So I thought I’d write about it and share some opinions.
Organisational Change Management is growing as a practice. Especially in the UK, which is playing catch-up with the likes of the US and Australia. OCM in the UK does have very strong Project Management roots to contend with, where historically OCM was seen as another string to the bow of a Project Manager. This legacy doesn’t quite exist in less mature project spaces like Australia, where OCM has had space to grow and flourish as a standalone discipline. So the UK is chasing down the pack.
Showing the value and need for OCM can therefore be tricky in a world where many leaders don’t understand change. Despite it being all around them. Budgets are being slashed, especially ‘discretionary spend’, and industry commentary talks of most change programmes failing.
It is therefore imperative that we can talk about and position our profession in a consistent and co-ordinated way. Where things become confusing and at times frustrating is when we have multiple badges, labels and phrases for organisational change. If we can’t decide, how do we expect leaders to buy into it and commit people and resources to it?
OCM is a term we use and see being used in many other countries. In the UK the term Change Management is popular, but is at times substituted for Project Management. We’ve talked about this before. So the debate does seem to be growing and expanding into different areas.
It is understandable that there are different types of OCM, that do different things, for different people, at different times. I don’t want to suggest everyone has to go by our rules or the way in which we think. However I wonder if to protect our value and increase understanding of OCM we need to learn from Agile?
Many of us are aware and familiar with Agile and its growth, especially outside the realm of IT. Agile has many different flavours, with a recognized diversity of methods. It also has a manifesto and values which many people follow. The growth of Agile has been in part down to the success of practitioners being able to show clear value based on clear principles and practices. Does OCM need to adopt a similar approach? Do we need an OCM manifesto?
This shouldn’t be confused with broader notions of change across the world. This isn’t a social or political movement. It is about how the practice of organisational change management can be aligned to common beliefs and find common ground, beyond delivering people outcomes and business value. Now its worth noting that the Agile Manifesto was born out of a collective group of peoples sympathetic need for better ways of doing things.
The practice of OCM isn’t necessarily broken, however it can appear elusive and/or confusing to those who want to access and understand it. So lets do something before it reaches a tipping point.