Why Does Change Management Sound So Boring?


Ideas are great. Implementation is better.

Here’s an idea: I’ll give you 3 job titles, and you choose the one you’d most like to have.

Change Agent
Innovation Catalyst
Change Management Consultant

You didn’t choose Change Management Consultant, did you?

Somehow, ‘Change Agent’ and anything with the word ‘innovation’ in it sounds a lot more exciting than ‘Change Management’. And don’t get me started on ‘disruptor’. Yet, in many ways, change management, as boring as it sounds to so many people, is the most important part of the process.

Last week I met a fellow whose business card said he was a ‘Change Agent’. He was everything you’d expect someone with that title to be: 30-something, fashionable clothes, great sunglasses and full of information about the latest hot topics on TechCrunch and Mashable.

Of course, I’m always interested in anything to do with ‘change’, so I started asking him what he did on a day-to-day basis. “Oh, you know,” he said. “I inject ideas into the organizational framework and help companies transform the marketplace.” He did have some interesting ideas – he’s definitely thinking about where his industry will be in the next 5-10 years, and how the market will change in that time. That kind of thinking is important for any organization.

But between Big Ideas and Big Results there is…Implementation. And then sustaining that change…and then making sure the organization has the skills to embrace the next change cycle. And that’s where Change Management comes in. The problem is that senior management doesn’t think that part is as exciting. And sometimes it doesn’t think it is even important. They are so enamoured with the ‘Big Idea’ that they gloss over what comes next. It’s as if they have a project plan in their head with an activity that reads “We announce the Big Idea, and then a miracle occurs, and then it works.”

That’s why I like to think of what comes next not in terms of ‘change management’ but rather ‘change architecture’. Architects take someone else’s ‘big idea’ – “I want a beautiful house on this piece of land” – and then figure out how to make the big picture work with the small details to get it done. They show you the model of the building with the graceful facade – and then they show you the detailed construction plans that outline how the thing is going to be built. And then a good architect oversees the process, from the first groundbreaking to the final landscape design.

There’s no question that there’s something inherently exciting about coming up with a brand new business or product or service – it’s like starting a new notebook with nothing but possibilities ahead. But in the long run the money is made when you can take an idea from conception to fruition to results. Being a ‘Change Agent’ or ‘Change Catalyst’ or ‘Disruptor’ doesn’t get you to profitability – it just gets you started. Change Architecture, or if you insist Change Management, is what finishes the job and makes sure the idea adds to your bottom line.

Beth Banks Cohn
Beth Banks Cohnhttp://www.adrachangearchitects.com
BETH is dedicated to helping individuals and companies implement business changes that actually work. Beth believes in the ripple effect – that change handled well benefits everyone in an organization, over and over again. As a recognized expert in change as well as corporate culture, Beth consults domestically and internationally with a wide range of disciplines and businesses. Beth is the author of two books: ChangeSmart™: Implementing Change Without Lowering your Bottom Line and Taking the Leap: Managing Your Career in Turbulent Times…and Beyond (with Roz Usheroff).




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