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Author  Karen Ferris – Macanta Consulting

July 5, 2018 |

 5 min read

  • Blog
  • Change management
  • Communication
  • Roles
  • Training

While organizations might choose to flatten the hierarchy and decentralize decision making, everyone in the organization needs to step up and lead – especially in organizational change management (OCM).

Think for a moment about the Total Football concept pioneered by the 1970s Netherlands national soccer team, where players do not wait for the ball to come to them, but move into the space available and disrupt the competition! They are prepared to play in any position – attack, defence or midfield as needed. More of the soccer analogy later…

ITSM needs to help with OCM: in today’s business conditions which are relentlessly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA), you can’t rely on organizational change managers alone to guide people through any size of change.

Instead, organizations need to look at change as everyone’s business.

Meanwhile, OCM has been over-complicated with a range of job titles including “journey planner”. In reality, there are only three roles needed for OCM: in the soccer vernacular, they are managers, coaches and players.

The OCM team

In this scenario, managers are the change management experts, setting strategy and determining how to build a resilient workforce. They set the direction and build a network of coaches: these are the change agents.

The players (a.k.a, the workforce) need to understand what it means to change and be resilient and they need training to handle constant change.

For a real-life soccer team, every week is different: the game, the conditions, opposition, tactics, supporters, playing in a different position. They don’t resist these changes but are resilient and say “game on!”.

That’s is how the workforce today needs to be: recognizing that sometimes change is uncomfortable but is necessary if you’re going to be resilient and win the game.

How to make the OCM team work

How does this operate in practice?

  1. You need to ensure the change practitioners see themselves as strategists, not as doers. They are the organizational change management experts setting direction to build a resilient workforce. They build a network of change coaches (the doers) and equip them with the skills and capabilities to be effective change coaches.
  2. Change coaches need to be embedded throughout the organization, be resilient and act like motivators and advisors, just like a football/soccer coach.

    They need to understand what OCM is about including people transitions, what good communications are and how to do a training needs analysis. This needs to be embedded in the delivery side of change, especially with agile service delivery. This requires a mindset change in the leadership that organizational change is a no-brainer. Coaches should help players understand personal resilience – it is stressful when what you’re doing today is different from yesterday. Coaches need to be equipped in all aspects of organizational change and have the ability to identify players that, one day, will become coaches. And the coaches need time to become an effective change coach along with their day-to-day roles.
  3. The coalition of managers, coaches and players ensure that the players – our workforce – are resilient in the face of constant change. We need to stop trying to manage resistance to change, and instead build resilience to change. It is the players that will ultimately win or lose the game and the managers and coaches ensure that they win.

    Everyone needs to be equipped with training and tools, coaching and mentoring to survive in any new world, such as competitors making a move, new technology, consumer demand – the myriad of potential changes.

Making it happen

While most of the frameworks and approaches for still treat OCM as a linear process, this doesn’t align with the lack of stability in organizations today.

The challenge is that organizational change practitioners need to adapt the tools learned in training to deal with the situation of constant change. The linear tools need to be cyclic and subject to continual change.

ITIL Practitioner remains a relevant certification in relation to OCM, particularly in terms of communications activity, managing stakeholders and identifying where training is needed.

Meanwhile there has to be a mindset change in some areas. For example, there might be less time to understand stakeholders when working on an agile project. Another fundamental change is the need for more preparation than ever before: for an agile project, you need to decide “what is the intent?”; get templates and plans in place to have the building blocks in place and a toolkit to call on. What plans do you need to help stakeholders who are affected by change?

Also, the power of data analytics can be used to inform organizational change: when communicating you can track who is clicking on an email or link and identify where you’re not getting traction or interest in a particular part of the business.

In an organization – as in the Total Football concept – you don’t wait for the opportunity to come to you, but go for it and collaborate as a team.

And that often needs a central, inspiring person – like Johan Cruyff in the 1970s Netherlands football team – in an organization who can inspire, motivate and coordinate the team.

Read more Axelos Blog Posts from Karen Ferris

2018: the time comes for project managers

Organizational change management and project success: Part 2

Organizational change management and project success: Part 1

Making service management agile

ITIL® Practitioner - Design for Experience

Observe Directly: how to avoid the "watermelon effect"

ITIL Practitioner: Organizational Change Management

Top 10 reasons why ITSM practitioners should welcome ITIL® Practitioner

Why Organizational Change Management is important for ITSM