Managing Change – It’s Harder than You Think!

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I just read this article about Change Management that really caught my attention.  Here is an excerpt from the opening paragraph:

“We’ve all been there: We’re ready to use one of our favorite business or social media apps on any one of our devices, only to realize there is a necessary update. This is fine. We tap “update all” and wait patiently for our beloved apps to update so we can go on with our lives. . . . .the update is an update of the user interface!   . . . you have to relearn the locations of your favorite functions of your favorite apps!  “Why do they do this?” “It wasn’t broken, why did they have to fix it?!” “I don’t have time for this.””

Isn’t this the reaction we often hear from our employees and stakeholders when we are trying to make ANY change happen?  Whether it is changing our business processes, our organization structure or our technology – CHANGE IS HARD!!!!   I teach and consult on Change Management and I am the first one to cringe when we are trying to change something within our firm and I must keep reminding myself – “Physician heal Thyself”. Change MUST be something we encourage and embrace, or our organizations will remain stagnant and not grow.  We often underestimate how important change management IS and how important it is to have that competency.  It is no longer considered to be a “soft” skill but rather a highly sought-after strategic competency that is critical to making change happen. 

Here are our Guiding Principles to Driving Change:

There is both an art and science to Change Management.  It can be taught and should be part of your professional tool kit.

As I look at the list of Principles above, I think about some of the mistakes I have seen many organizations make – they don’t acknowledge that change will be painful.  We tend to talk about all the benefits, and that is certainly important, but acknowledging the pain is critical as well.    Receivers of Change must believe that accepting, and more importantly adopting the change, is worth the pain.  Here is a simple formula we use:

How do we make that happen?  How about some good old-fashioned honesty?  The perceived cost, in many cases, is not measured in dollars but in time, effort, etc.   Let’s not sugar coat the fact that change WILL cause some disruption, decreased productivity, errors, etc.  BUT it won’t last forever and the new “whatever” will provide benefits or Value.  Again, the Receivers of Change must believe that the “Value” outweighs the “Cost” or the change will not be adopted AND No Adoption means we have accrued a whole lot of “cost” with zero return.   

Let’s bring this back to our discipline and the changes many of us are trying to make – moving from tactical to strategic, from reactive to proactive, from Strategic Sourcing to Category Management, etc.  There will be pain for our Procurement employees and our internal stakeholders.  Acknowledge it, work through it as quickly as possible and start creating Value.  Teach your people how to be Change Agents so they can be ambassadors for change and help your stakeholders embrace the change as well. 

CHANGE IS HARD and it is one of the reasons that over 70% of change efforts fail or the average percentage of ADOPTION of anything new is less than 10% (8.8% to be exact).  If we know the odds are against us BUT Change is NECESSARY, let’s increase our chances for success by having the competency and tools to make that happen.  If you need help with that, contact us 😊!

Let us know what you think and loin in the conversation……

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Anne Kohler
Anne has been leading consulting and financial management organizations for over 25 years. She has extensive expertise in Strategic Sourcing, change management, contracting & contract management (both the buy side and sell side) organizational design and supply chain management. Anne has a passion for collaborating and educating her clients while helping them to uncover hidden value in their organizations. In addition, Anne has been named by Supply & Demand Chain Executive as a “Top 100 Provider Pro to Know” every year since 2007 and a 2013 Top Female Supply Chain executive.
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