Change management, or management of change. Thank God there can only be two permutations, because they are the most over-used terms in organizations. But, there are three very different models of change.
Model one, I call a ‘Destination Model’. Here it’s all about going from A to Z. Z is fixed, usually some sort of Promised Land; and A is the departure, and invariably a worse place than Z. This model of change is concerned with getting to Z. The language is one of milestones, timeframes, costs, and Key Performance Indicators. In other words, there’s a method. I call people in this model “The Methodists’.
I call model two a ‘Journey Model’. Model two also has its destinations but here it’s more about the ‘how’ you get there, what you learn in the process, the experience, perhaps the engagement of people. Model two people are mostly ‘travellers’. People who use Appreciative Inquiry, for example dwell here.
There is a model three. It’s the ‘Building Model’. This is about the building of the company’s DNA. In this model, there are destinations and journeys as well, but the key focus is not just on reaching Z, or, on the journey as you’re going to Z, but on the new DNA that is being created. A lasting environment, an organization that has, not just changed (model one) or has had a good change experience (model two) but has created a new competence: change-ability. These people are builders.
The three models are very different. Traditional management uses model one. That’s why we have an industry of ‘change management’, which is, in reality, more project or programme management with proliferation of Gantt Charts. Today however, model one, for all its merits of reaching Z (and getting yourself rewarded in the process) misses the point of sustainability. Then comes model two, or ‘the journey,’ which some management still treat as “New Age Stuff’ with lower credibility.
The goal of model three is to make the word ‘change’ redundant. In model three, ‘Change Management’ has become ‘management’. It’s a permanent ability based on a particular behavioural DNA.
If model one is milestones and model two is experience, model three is behaviours and culture. Model one is a one–off. Model two is learning, which may or may not be one-off. Model three is creating the long term fabric, culture, change-ability of the organization, as opposed to just going from A to Z (but still you get to Z).
There are choices. Be clear. Forget ‘change management’. Reach a destination, learn from the journey, but if you don’t create long term DNA and culture, you’ve lost a great deal of opportunities and possibilities.