Change is the one constant in the era of digital transformation. Consequently, organizational change management (OCM) is becoming crucial to business success. This framework is focused on the people side of managing the impact of new business processes, changes in organizational structure or enterprise culture transformations, yet according to CIO’s Bob Lewis, many companies are still clinging to OCM misconceptions and hindering their overall success.
Below are 5 of these organizational change management myths and how to bust them for greater business outcomes.
1. OCM is Not an IT Problem
In a bygone age, IT delivered a new application and considered its job mostly done. Today, the work doesn’t end with delivery; ensuring that the solution drives business value is a key part of IT’s responsibility. As Lewis writes, “IT needs to make intentional business change a collaboration…[by] helping your change partners understand everything necessary for intentional business change to succeed, including OCM, which, starting right now, your business analysts should build into their toolkit.”
2. Employees are Resistant to Change
This is a popular excuse for delaying the rollout of new projects, however, it’s not entirely accurate. Lewis points to peoples’ love of smartphones, IoT devices, and other innovations as evidence that employees don’t naturally resist change per se. Rather, it’s the typical fallout from such initiatives that they dislike. He states, “Most employees’ experience with business change entails invalidating hard-won skills and having to learn new ones, layoffs and disruptive reorganizations, and most likely increased workload besides.” Some of these may be unavoidable based on the best interests of the business, but successful OCM strategies should recognize employees’ concerns and take steps to alleviate them wherever possible.
3. Executive Support is Required
Starting a project with support from the top is often a good idea, but there’s a catch. According to Lewis, “A lesser-known change guideline is that executives shouldn’t sponsor more than three major change efforts at any one time. Exceed that limit and they’ll dilute their influence too much and won’t accomplish any of them.” This means that requiring executive support on a project may actually be more of a bottleneck than anything else, and, as a result, it shouldn’t be a requirement for all change efforts.
4. The Other Guys are the Enemies
The traditional idea that proponents of change are the good guys and opponents are the enemy has no place in modern OCM efforts. Lewis cautions change leaders not to vilify those resistant to the initiative, as it does nothing to move the project forward. Treating them with respect and making an effort to listen to and acknowledge their concerns is a much more effective strategy, and one that is less likely to cause resentment after the project is completed.
5. You Can Cherry Pick OCM
Even if you think the entire organization supports the change, OCM is still critical. Lewis states, “From here on in, think of every change you’re leading as, metaphorically, knee replacement surgery. Even if it’s necessary, and even if you and the body you inhabit will be happier once you’ve fully recuperated, getting from here to there will be unpleasant.” Likening OCM to physical therapy for business changes, he encourages companies to utilize it for every change, every time.
Read more about additional OCM misconceptions here and why it’s important you disprove them before embarking on a change effort.