No offense to those with the title in the business card. No offense to the whole industry. You are well and alive. The dead body is the praxis, the discipline, the for many moons unchanged concept and its all-seasons meaning.
Change management started to feel a bit ill, and then spiralled into full illness, when people realised that one of the two words was redundant. Either it is management (of change, what else?) or change, which equals management (what else?).
It became seriously ill when still pretended that there was an A and a Z, and, in the middle, there it was, the vehicle itself, ‘change management’. Trouble is all the Z had disappeared from the organizational alphabet, so many other letters.
The ‘change management method’ was like a train that took you from city A to city B. It had passengers and a driver. Now, imagine a train that leaves station A and then shoots for B but encounters C and then diverts to D and then can’t find E so moves to F. That is the environment. In this environment trains don’t work. Train tracks have moved. (‘Who moved my cheese?’ was the title of a nineties ‘change book’. I’d love to write ‘Who moved my rail tracks?)
I know that people call ‘change management’ to many things, from installing a piece of technology in the system, to changing the culture, which makes the concept meaningless. That is part of the problem.
That ‘change management’ has died. Dealing with change has not, actually it has increased. A company that thrives has ‘change’ in the DNA, not external to it.
Change management professionals, no need to panic. Plenty of change around. But the time has come to throw the toolkits out of the window and look at how we can install change-ability in the system.
Instead of trains, building scaffoldings and houses. Instead of methods (the train and the train tracks), platforms (behavioural scaffoldings, new people operating systems).
Yes, precisely, I want a new ‘people operating system’ that allows me not to worry about the next change, and the next, and the next. An operating system that makes the word ‘project’ (as in a change project) redundant. An operating system that can handle transformation, evolution or crisis in equal terms.
If you want to take a look at the Mobilizing Platform that I have pioneered with my team, here is a 30 min video. Created for a HR/OD/Comms conference that I could not attend, I share there the Viral Change™ mobilizing platform concepts once more.
After the funeral, actually a bright future. Refresh, reborn, rethink or re-anything. There is a full life in front. New business cards. But no trains from A to Z. Those predictable rail tracks have become very rusty and the grass has overgrown. Unsafe. Historical. Not in the guidebooks anymore,
That change management has died. Management can be reinvented. Mobilizing people, at a scale, for a purpose, using a platform, and building long term capacity. It sounds like a social movement; it feels like a social movement; it smells like a social movement. It’s a social movement. No other mental frame, no other concept of organization, no other approach to change can cope today with the challenge of rail stations that have disappeared, oxidized broken rail tracks and useless maps taking you nowhere.