Organisational Change Management – What is it?

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This is the question of the month: What is OCM? And that’s why we have set off on the month of OCtober, to explore that, do discuss the answers, to agree, to disagree, and to learn and work together.

I hope you will join in.

We believe that we can get better at delivering organisational change. The failure of organisations to recognise the need for and deliver change, and the constant refrain of “we must get better at change”, have led us to believe that it is time to have a bigger conversation about organisational change management.

After more than 10 years of perfecting our approach and supporting large international businesses to get better at it, we think it’s time to open the discussion up wider.

We will only get better at it if we all get better at it.

So, let’s start by agreeing what we are talking about. We are not talking about something that exists outside of a project or programme of work, but can be a key part of it.

DEFINITION: Organisational change is an agreed programme of work that will be delivered in an organisation as a result of which people will need to perform or behave differently. Objectives, benefits, plans and dedicated resources are all hallmarks of organisational change. Organisational change needs organisational change management

One of the many challenges organisations face is programmes that fail to deliver value. Sometimes they don’t deliver enough, but often – far too often – don’t deliver any value at all.  OCM offers the tools and processes to get aligned with programmes of change early and ensure that the full value is captured from the changes.

How can you know what is a change programme and what is not?

We set ourselves what we call a ‘hurdle question’ for organisational change management delivery. That question is:

Will people need to perform or behave differently as a result?

It is worth lingering on the question. Because it may be too easy to say ‘no’. Does your change need people to use software differently, or fill in a new form. Do you want customers to have a different experience when they interact with your people? Will the strategy require people to focus on different things? If the answer to any of these questions is ‘YES’, then you need to ensure there is organisational change management support.

Change, The Change and Organisational Change (OCM)

We also make an important distinction between Change, The Change and Organisational Change Management. When organisations talk about “being overwhelmed by change,” or “needing to get better at change” they are often referring to change that is both intrinsic and extrinsic. For example the price of oil impacting business strategy. That is a big topic.

When we get to ‘The Change’ it is more often a specific issue or course of action that the organisation can address. (‘We are selling a business unit.’) Which leaves Organisational Change. It is then a question of a structured programme of work that requires time and resources. (‘We need to deliver this CRM system by the end of next year.’) Organisational Change needs OCM.

The ability to tell the difference allows us to reclaim the word CHANGE and agree what is being discussed and what can be done.

How to manage organisational change

When Able and How look at addressing Organisational Change Management we use tools that are very recognisable to project managers and programme teams everywhere. However, we also have a high level approach to initiating change that is tried and tested.  It is flexible, but clear.

(c) Able and How 2016

Today’s reality however is that there is no one unified theory of change. There are common views. Some tools like Able and How’s Change Index are built on 50 years of research. This does not mean that they are yet fully agreed – as no doubt OCtober 2016 will show.

Our profession brings together many disciplines: management, psychology, sociology. This also adds to the complexity. Which, in turn, makes it such an interesting area in which to work.

We are lucky enough to be involved in it.

Let’s chat about change.





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