Tuesday, August 16, 2005

More change

I’ve had my first comment on my Blog - bit of a thrill, it means someone is reading me! (Actually, this is not my first comment, my old friend Dave made a comment earlier-on of the “here you are kind” but this is my first serious comment.)

Over the years I’ve had comments from time about my writing in Overload and before that I used to get actual letters about my contributions to BBC Telesoftware, each time it says “your doing something right - somebody noticed it.”

And here in lies another important lesson for anyone involved in change. Tell people! Give them feedback, let them know there on the right road. When you try and do something new for the first time - or even the second - your not sure what your doing. You have doubts - “am I doing it right?” you think, “is it good enough?” and other such similar comments. How do you know unless someone tells you?

So, when your introducing new ideas and change remember to tell people when they are getting it right, and when they are not... that’s more difficult, you need to let them know without activating their defences.

Now I should point out that I’m not an expert in change. Sure I’ve introduced some change into organizations, and I’ve even helped one or two people change, and I may have read a lot about it but that doesn’t make me an expert.

In fact, I’m not sure who is an expert.

An academic might consider himself or herself an expert in the theory of change but what about the practice?

A management consultant may think of himself or herself as an expert, they go from company to company introducing change. But true change is change that sticks, how often do consultants leave and things go back to the way they where? Or even worse, the consultants go and things fall apart. Consultants don’t live with their changes so they don’t know the full story.

I don’t know who the experts are but I know that anyone with some responsibility needs to know a bit about change. So, I thought I’d recommend some reading.

First is the book always recommend when this subject comes up; “Fearless Change” (Manns and Rising, 2004). This is a book of short pattern for introducing change.

Second is a favourite of mine, “The Fifth Discipline: the art and practice of a learning organization” (Senge, 1990). OK, so there is no change in the title but it is about learning and as I’ve said before true learning requires change and vice versa.

Third, well this is a cheat, I keep running across the Satir change model - type that into Google and take your pick of the references. Its a cheat because I’ve not actually read a book dedicated to this subject but I should.

Finally, “Making Sense of Change Management” (Cameron and Green, 2005). This book is a bit dry, a bit an academic textbook but it will get you familiar with several of the “change models” and alert you to some of the issues involved.

But in a way, all these books are theoretical. Unless you live the change, unless you are there acting with it you don’t understand it. Models are just that, a model, an abstraction, they don’t tell you what to do. At the end of the day you have to find your own solution.

Sure these books might give you a few new options but you have to be able to act on them. That is a very human thing and what works for someone else may not work for you.

As for me, well, I’ll keep writing my blog and living my changes so I’ll keep commenting on them. And in so doing I’ll be telling you stories, I hope you find them interesting and maybe even useful.

Cameron, E. and Green, M. 2005 Making Sense of Change Management, Kogan Page, London.

Manns, M. K. and Rising, L. 2004 Fear Less - And Other Patterns for Introducing New Ideas into Organizations, Addison-Wesley, http://www.cs.unca.edu/~manns/intropatterns.html,

Senge, P. 1990 The Fifth Discipline, Random House Books.