It’s a simple question but the answer is usually far from straightforward. Ron Ashkenas, a managing partner at Schaffer Consulting, estimates there are 83,000 books on Amazon about change management. That represents, in his view, 83,000 pieces of evidence that companies are failing to manage change – even though this issue has been discussed since the 1970s.
In his blog on Harvard Business Review (http://blogs.hbr.org/ashkenas/2013/04/change-management-needs-to-cha.html) Ashkenas suggests that companies fail because they often outsource management of change to ‘experts’ rather than encouraging managers to take the responsibility.
His advice to any company wondering why it is struggling to manage change is to ask three simple questions:
1. Do you have a common framework, language and set of tools for managing change? Obviously, if you don’t, you’re more than likely to be one of the 60-70% of firms that feel their change management effort has failed.
2. Is change management embedded into your project plans or run separately or in parallel? Again, embedded is better but it’s astonishing how many companies haven’t learned this.
3. Are managers or ‘experts’ accountable for change management? If the answer is experts, you’re in trouble. As Ashkenas concludes: “Making change management happen needs to be a core competence of managers, not something they can pass off to others.”