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Monday, 23 November 2015 11:55

Comparing Organizational Change Management Models

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Comparing Organizational Change Management Models

A few weeks ago, I set out to write a post on the comparison of various organizational change management (OCM) methodologies and realized that would be a disservice to my readers. It would simply drag you down the path of implementation while failing to focus you on building the foundation. The pressure was too much and I have relented to numerous requests on making that comparison. The caveat is that juxtaposing these models is not comparing different varieties of oranges or even apples and oranges; we are surely comparing the peel to the fruit they contain. Hence, comparing methodologies like Kotter's model (the peel), Prosci's ADKAR (the core), and General Electric's Change Acceleration Process (the whole fruit) need a different approach.

Start At The Beginning

I would be remiss by neglecting to emphasize two key points—why you should care and where to start.

First, we care since organization change management, and the more general case of adoption, is at the core of project success. If the project does not get adopted, the entire project with its compromises, bickering, negotiation, etc. was a waste. The project was a total failure.

Second, once we realize this and you are looking for the best methodology for your fledgling change management program, you are starting at the wrong spot. Read my prior post The Catch-22 of Organizational Change Management. Assuming you are past this stage of you change management implementation, then you probably do need to understand the analogy of the fruit and its peel.

The Fruit and Its Peel

As with a fruit, whose peel protect and contains the nutrients and seeds that grow the new plant, top management in any organization maintains the focus of the company's visionaries and implementers to germinate new products and services that change the organization. Leaders think and function differently than the rest of the organization. As a result, the information they need is different. Executives protect organization much like the peel contains the fruit. The fruit is the guts of the matter with all the working elements. The executives shield the team from external influences that will distract them from their jobs.

John Kotter's Methodology

John Kotter's (Harvard professor, et al) writings define the peel. He speaks to how the executives must function. He does it in an executive tone and language, directly addressing the executive leader. His focus is on where change management initiatives must start. Without attaining the level of executive buy-in that he prescribes, any change management initiative is destined to flail and fail. His eight steps (Increase Urgency, Build a Team, Set the Right Vision, Communicate for Buy-in, Empower Action, Create Short-term Wins, Do Not Let Up, and Make it Stick) equate to an executive action plan for success. He continually emphasizes the importance and need for directing cultural change from the top and avoiding the desire to jump to implementation, which is often done by delegating the entire initiative. As implementing a change management philosophy is a change to the corporate culture, the corporation's leaders must drive the change. This concept is not limited to just this initiative, but any large change, such as ERP or CRM implementations, that alters the corporate culture. Kotter has written many great articles and books, my favorite of which in Heart of Change and I strongly recommend this book as the first in your change management journey.

Prosci's ADKAR

ADKAR is the pulp and seeds of the fruit. Although the people at Prosci will surely disagree, ADKAR (which is the acronym for their process steps of Aware, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement) is an implementer's process. Although they have worked hard to up-level ADKAR to a complete package, they still do not walk and talk at the executive level. Jeffery Hiatt, author of the Prosci published book ADKAR: A Model for Change in Business, Government and our Community, even acknowledges, "By its nature, ADKAR is an individual change management model."1. It is the de facto change management process standard being used by thousands of businesses worldwide, albeit with varying degrees of success. The only reason for the low levels of success, in my opinion, is that the executives are not on board and are only giving lip service to the change initiative by funding people to take Prosci's classes. They are living the buzz-word du jour nightmare. They have neglected to drink the Kool-Aide themselves and live the philosophy of change. As a result, they never see the benefits of a good change management process—reduced project failure.

General Electric's CAP

GE's Change Acceleration Process (CAP) is the entire fruit—peel, pulp and seeds. It is a complete change management process from executive to janitor. It is born out Jack Welch's drive to make the GE team adaptable and responsive to customer needs and business environment changes. Wrapped in the cloak of a process, it is blend of dogma, philosophy, and religion that everyone in the organization lives, eats, drinks, and sleeps. It is the meld of a Kotter-like philosophy with an ADKAR-like process integrated together to create a complete culture. This is the ultimate goal of any organization wanting to embrace a change philosophy.

Comparing The Models

you may be asking, "Why not worry about the model to begin with?" Simply put, implementing an change management process is a change—a big one. One requiring the ongoing commitment of every executive in the company and may require some extremely difficult decisions. There has to be a change in mindset to prioritize organization change at the top. Shipping units out the door, higher margins, better marketing all take a back seat. If they do not, then they will fail, too. Organization change management has to take precedence.

Once you have set the urgency, the right team needs to be in place. Remember those hard decisions? Some of your team may need replacing.

Once you have the urgency and the right team, now you can figure out the required changes.

The Solution

The solution lies in understanding the problem—executives need to do their part to prioritize change. They too often delegate implementing the change philosophy to others and in doing so have left a gap that makes people ask the question, "Which OCM process should we use?" The process is not the issue; the corporate culture is the issue. The goal is to build a GE-style culture in you company using tools that as described by Kotter, Prosci, and others, not to implement a change process by delegating its implementation. Think not about the process and more about which executive has the leadership skills to drive and be accountable for creating the new corporate culture—the CEO.

Your Experience?

What are your experiences with Organization change management, adoption, and ADKAR? We would all love to hear your thoughts.

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