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Change management is a much discussed, yet controversial term, most people do not like change. However, we simply cannot do without change. Our lifestyle, our economy even our cultures is based on change life. Without change we still be chasing bears and living in caves. Within our organizations we have to deal with changes.

What is Change management S Curve

Successful changes will result in growth. However this will only be for a limited amount of time. Even the result of a successful change will stabilize at a certain point. If nothing is done, the growth will fade away. Organization cannot wait too long to start the new “innovation curve” Or “change curve”.

Organizational culture

Several studies have concluded strong correlation between the success of programs of change and whether culture was leveraged in the process of change. This demonstrates the need for a more culture-oriented change approach by the change agent or deployment leader.

8 step change management process (Kotter)

Without the ability to adapt continuously, organizations cannot thrive. For this reason organization need to be successful in management of change. For all the money and effort that go into change initiatives. They have decidedly mixed success rate. According to john kotter 70% of programs of change fail. After thirty years of research, this is very de-motivating conclusion. Why do changes fail? Because organization often do not take holistic approach required to see the change through. According to Kotter, organizations can reduce the risk of failure by following the 8-step approach.

  1. Establishing a sense of urgency

Help others to see the need to change and they will be convinced of the importance of acting immediately.

  1. Creating the guiding coalition

Assemble a group with enough power to lead the effort to change, and encourage the group to work as a team.

  1. developing a change vision

Create a vision to help direct the effort to change , and develop strategized foe achieving that vision.

  1. Communicating the vision for buy-in

Make sure as many as possible understand and accept the vision and the strategy.

  1. Empowering board -based action

Remove obstacles to change change system or structures that seriously undermine the vision and encourage risk -taking and nontraditional ideas, activities and actions.

  1. Generating short-term wins

Plan for achievements that can easily be made visible, follow-through with those achievements and recognize and reward employees who were involved.

  1. Never letting up

Use increased credibility to change systems, structures and policies that do not fit the vision, also hire promote, and develop employees who can implement vision , and finally reinvigorate the process with new projects.

  1. Incorporating changes into the culture

Articulate the connections between the new behaviors and organizational success, and develop the means to ensure leadership development and succession.

Emotional stages of changes (Kubler-Ross)

People will experience similar stages when they are given the news that things will change different explanations, but the idea will remain the same. You might recognize the next phases when organization is given the news of a changes programme:

1. Denial Trying to avoid the inevitable This cannot be true
2. Anger Strong expression of emotions This is not going to work
3. Bargaining Resisting or avoiding the change I will not cooperate
4. Depression Final realization of the inevitable There is nothing i can can do about it
5. Acceptance Seeking realistic solutions Lets, give it a try.
6. Moving -on Finally finding the way forward This is good for me.

What is change management approach – Top down versus bottom-up

Major changes should always be started and continued top-down. Also Green and Black belt projects will follow a top-down approach. Even first 5s implication will be top-down. However, program of change cannot sustain for longer period of time if improvement initiatives will only continue to be led top-down. Step-7 and 8 of the Kotter approach states that management should encored and involve all people of the organization in the improvement process.

The expression top-down means that all directions are provided from top management and that the execution is done by engineers and senior staff. In this traditional management-style, objectives are established by management as well as guidelines, information, timing and budgets. The bottom-up approach however, implies that the team is formed by work floor staff. Managers are expected to communicate objectives and values rather than activities and detailed planning. A proactive input and execution as well as decision about the course of action are taken by the team rather than by management. The team is encouraged and empowered to develop the steps necessary and to make their own choices of technique and ways to achieve the expected results.

The bottom-up approach will improve the agility and productivity of problem solving, especially for so- called low hanging fruit projects where there is no need for management involvement to indentify and implement solution. Another advantage of the bottom up approach is that, problem are solved by employees who are experiencing the problems everyday. They think more creatively and already have ideas on how to solve problems, but in traditional organization the issue is that they are not encouraged and empowered to do so. Another advantage of the bottom-up approach is that involves the entire organization rather than having projects done by a small group of senior staff.

Black Belt

Empowering the work floor in level 1 and level 2 projects frees up time for seniors staffs to work on level 3 to level 5 breakthrough improvement projects. Although both approaches are needed it appears the traditional organization lack the bottom-up approach, which is a roadblock for creating a powerful continuous improvement organization. It might take a while to break with the traditional management  style and to introduce bottom-up in the organization. But in the traditional management style it will be worth the time and effort as collaboration will become much more efficient, and team member will work together more productively. The bottom-up approach will increase the motivation of employees as they are empowered, involved responsible and appreciated.

One of the Toyota principals is Nemawashi, which mean making decision slowly by consensus thoroughly considering all options and then implement decision rapidly. It can be very conflicting to the culture of some managers who prefer to make decisions rapidly, not considering all option and hazards, thereby running the risk that problems have to be solved later on. Consensus is a very noble aspiration. Consensus means that all reasons concerned will be involved and discuss the possible option and best choices. If the decision is not unanimous, the minority will comply with the decision of the majority, without complaint or rejection. A simple and straight to forward, approach especially for bottom-up initiatives is the 3d process:

Discuss           :-  involving all concerned

Decide          :-  by consensus

Do                  :-  following the group decision without repining

This process demonstrated that there is a time that all involved can contribute to define the solution or new situation. After a certain period of time it is necessary to come to a decision. The best way to reach an agreement is by consensus this means that the minority of the group will conform to the opinion of the majority of the group, without starting a new discussion. The entire team now contributes to the implementation of the agreed action without repine.