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Big bang or bumpy? Can you tell your change apart?

Insight

17 May 2018

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Change comes in all shapes and sizes. Large and fast change can often happen as the result of external pressure, take Facebook’s recent publicity. As a result of the Cambridge Analytica controversy, they’ve been pressured to spring into action and overhaul the way the business handles data.

On the flip side, other types of change are small, incremental and happen over a longer period of time. That type of change is frequently found in manufacturing, engineering and production in their use of Kaizen. The constant and gradual improvement has been particularly successful in Toyota, Ford and Nestle.

Each type of change requires a different approach, so to manage if effectively, you need to know what you’re dealing with. Take a look at the four types of change below:

Typically, it’s the big changes, both ‘planned’ and ‘big bang’ which are the most difficult to manage, so here are our top tips for both:

Planned Change (Large and Slow)

Large and slow changes can dominate heavily regulated industries but are open to two main pitfalls.

One big issue with planned change is loss of engagement. People stop caring and lose their positive energy. You can tackle this with an effective communication strategy. By providing regular updates, people feel like they are being kept in the loop. Make sure your communications provide details on any hold ups along with up to date timelines.  Another common issue with planned change’ is leaders becoming siloed. They get trapped within their area of expertise, and stop looking up at the bigger picture. It’s a good idea to focus on developing collaboration within your leadership population. Help them to refocus on the shared goals of the change, and to see the opportunities for collaboration which are being missed.

Big Bang Change (Large and Fast)

This type of change may seem daunting, but think survival rather than perfection. 80% is good enough, because perfection merely slows you down. Encourage leaders to make decisions when it matters, not once they’ve dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s. Extra information is useful but not at the expense of fast-decision making during a big bang change.

This approach does come with costs. Customers often feel the brunt of these large-scale changes as mistakes are inevitable and sadly unavoidable. Keep the organisation customer-focused and ensure extra support is in place to smooth out some of the kinks created by the change. Have you identified what type of change you’re facing? This is an important first step in any change, butalso remember that change can change! At any stage of a project the speed can vary so make sure you identify your change stage by stage.

The momentum of your change is just one of the contexts you need to consider when going through change, to find out about the other contextual factors, read our white paper ‘Organisational Change: All change is not equal’.

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