Changing Change Management (Ewenstein, Smith and Sologar) The Forum applies the 70:20:10 Lens

Change is constant. It's unstoppable, and because of this, organisations have correctly worked to manage it rather than slow or halt its advancement. Change Management efforts vary widely and there are many thoughts on the topic. Much of the design, however, lies in 20th century business challenges - when change was slow and management of the change could be well controlled and systematic.

The world is going through a seismic shift these days. Technology is disrupting markets and making change happen at break-neck speeds. Change Management therefore also has to undergo change. In the article Changing Change Management, the authors succinctly state how change management is traditionally applied is outdated with a 70% failure rate. The reason for its current failure is "due to employee resistance and lack of management support." 

So what has happened? Why is the industry of change management taken such a hit and lost favour from top to bottom? According to the author, the answer is simple - digital. The world is moving at digital speed. Change is rapid and traditional approaches of managing communication and developing training is much too slow. Employees resist because they are the first line of failure. Efforts lack the personal touch needed to meet emotional needs of change, and leadership (management) is unsupportive because the solutions are not moving quickly enough to meet the demand. Is the answer to fight fire with fire? 

"Digital dashboards and personalised messages, for example, can build faster, more effective support for new behaviours or processes in environments where management capacity to engage deeply and frequently with every employee is constrained by time and geography."

The article suggests that digitising 5 areas: just-in-time feedback, personalisation, sidestepping hierarchy, building empathy, community and purpose, and demonstrating progress could make internal change efforts more effective. These examples are tactics in a 70:20:10 framework.

Adopting a 70:20:20 framework can be a consistent buffer against the pain of continual change. Leading organisations are shifting from formal to informal at the centre of learning and change, moving from change by command and control (management) to change by increased transparency and openness. Let's look at each in this framework.

We know feedback is critical, and in any effort to help change a person's behaviour it is necessary. The closer the feedback is to the new learning and application the better. Social tools allow novices to not only receive feedback, but to solicit it from a variety of sources - be it management or peers, reinforcement from many levels is a powerful element for successful and long-term change.

One size fits all, fits no one. People connect to the content that speaks to them, and knowing your audience has always been an important component in any learning design. Today, however, organisational change can affect different people differently and understanding the significance of the change will vary.

Having those "in-the-know" curate content is one such way to personalise. More than simple aggregation, curation efforts tailor the selected material to speak to those who need and want it most making the time reviewing most efficient.

Sidestep Hierarchy:
The chain of command can significantly slow change efforts. A big concern for management is knowing if the right information is being shared. To better ensure this, management defaults to protocol and communication policies such as review cycles. If we change the default to one that is inclusive rather than exclusive, where all can see and comment on information, then everyone owns the change. If misinformation is shared, it's in the open, and correction is swift and always available. Leadership alone doesn't need to drive all content, it can move from many levels quickly.

Build empathy, community, and shared purpose:
This is the most significant factor in the change effort process. Change affects everyone, and everyone having a say or an opportunity to share concerns or ideas is ideal. Change efforts often fail, as they are clouded by mystery and exclusion; there is an ‘us and them’ belief.

Tools alone do not build community, as trust is a key ingredient before any digital tool is employed. If community exists, however, social tools are an excellent means to expand and extend the conversations; ensuring all are heard and feeling a connection during what can be stressful times.

Demonstrate Progress:
Change doesn't happen overnight and in addition to communicating effectively and openly there is an expectation of knowing ‘How's it going?’ Status updates on meeting various milestones are just as important as the change initiative itself.

A key element in motivation is progress, as people want to know if what they are doing is working. Is change happening and at the pace that it should? The article speaks of the importance of dashboards, but cannot emphasise enough that sharing personal context and opinion around progress (or lack thereof) can aid in understanding and comfort.

Each of the 5 points raised in the article deal with communication, which is essential for learning. The shift today in Change Management approaches is a shift from formal learning to informal, with great emphasis on community and openness. Managing change becomes more personal and more expedient, meeting the desires of management and employees alike when we frame it around how people actually learn in organisations; on the job, within workflow experiences, through peers, mentoring, coaching, and through courses and classes.

READ: Changing Change Management