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20 organizational development experts share their top tips for effective change

By Sanna Virtanen on Jun 26, 2018 4:11:23 PM

We could all use a little help when it comes to implementing effective organizational change and transformation.

So we called on 20 organizational development experts from all around the world to share their advice for overcoming common challenges, implementing effective change, and measuring success, alongside their best piece of advice for fellow change agents, facilitators and consultants.

 

1. Sara Coene, Founder at The Change Designers

What's the biggest challenge during a change & transformation initiative?
Letting go of control. Change cannot be managed in a strict way, with long plans and big checklists. We also need to put people at the center of change again and look at their wants and needs, instead of pushing a 100% fixed solution into the organization.

What's the most effective way to implement change?
The combination of human-centered design, co-creation and agile follow-up.

How do you measure the success of a change initiative?
There's not one measure, it depends on the kind of change, but generalized it comes down to user adoption (how many people are using a new solution or doing things differently) and the business/culture impact (hard results and engagement scores).

What's your best piece of advice for facilitating successful change?
Be clear and determined on where you want to go, but stay flexible (agile) in your way to get there so you take people with you on the journey.

 

2. Laura Goodrich, Co-founder at GWTNext - Global Workforce Transformation

What's the biggest challenge during a change & transformation initiative?
The unconscious focus on fear and the paralyzing effects of it. Additionally, habit is a detriment to change and innovation.

What's the most effective way to implement change?
We believe that real change is a process, not an event. For this reason, we produce cinematic microlearning programs where the learning and reminders are spaced over time. There are four components to our programs. 1. A roadmap with recommendations for coaching, conversation and practice 2. cinematic microlearning lessons - small bite sized video learning lessons 3. self reflection questions and prompts for action and practice and 4. Digital tools.

How do you measure the success of a change initiative?
Most of our programs begin with a self assessment of current level of effectiveness and close with a reassessment of effectiveness of the competencies introduced in the program.

What's your best piece of advice for facilitating successful change?
Space the learning over time. Create the opportunity for conversation and charge leaders with holding self and team accountable.

 

3. Gustavo Razzetti, CEO & Founder at Liberationist - Change Leadership

What's the biggest challenge during a change & transformation initiative?
Getting the leaders of the organization to acknowledge that they need to change and adjust their behaviors too, not just their team.

What's the most effective way to implement change?
Change happens from within; it cannot be imposed by leaders. The best way to drive traction is to go deep on self-awareness. Help people understand their emotions, mindsets, and behaviors--both those that are helpful and those that get in their way. Work with the team to uncover both individual and collective blindspots. Create a shared language and team purpose that everyone owns and want to achieve. Make it human, friendly, fun, and exciting--turn change into a personal challenge not into something boring, imposed, or threatening. Basically, reframe the relationship with change from "I have to" to "I want to."

How do you measure the success of a change initiative?
Overall, how people embrace a new mindset--more experimental, vulnerable, and adaptive--to be more open to change. Also, for each project, depending on the behaviors we want to ignite or accelerate, we track how those are being incorporated by the team.

What's your best piece of advice for facilitating successful change?
Aim for depth over breadth. It's better to have 10% of your organization 100% convinced about a new initiative than to have 100% of your people just 10% convinced about it.

 

4. Hermanni Hyytiälä, Principal Consultant at Gofore

What's the biggest challenge during a change & transformation initiative?
Changing management thinking.

What's the most effective way to implement change?
The design of normative learning experience processes in order to help leaders to 'unlearn' current management conventions.

How do you measure the success of a change initiative?
By observing the prevailing narrative and behaviour in an organization which indicate whether the underlying assumptions have changed.

What's your best piece of advice for facilitating successful change?
You should avoid the intervention trap: you explain to people, people map what you said onto their current world view, but it is their world view you want to change. If you follow a rational approach, people will defend their current thinking since they know no better – this results in denial. Its very likely you won’t get any traction here!

 

5. Jason Little, Author, Speaker & Consultant at Lean Change Management

What's the biggest challenge during a change & transformation initiative?
Not having enough internal champions who spread the change virally!

What's the most effective way to implement change?
Focus on dialogue via lean coffee, big visible program walls that make the unseen seen, and emphasizing purpose over urgency.

How do you measure the success of a change initiative?
I use a mix of diagnostics and measurements. Diagnostics are fuzzier, things like "given it's been a month, do you feel we're going in the right direction?" I avoid binary success/failure measurements at all costs because change is never as simple as that.

What's your best piece of advice for facilitating successful change?
As the change agent, your opinion doesn't matter! Detach from the outcome, put your status, ego, and opinion last in favour of putting the people affected by the change first.

 

6. Karen Ferris, Organizational Change Management Consultant at Karen Ferris

What's the biggest challenge during a change & transformation initiative?
Appreciation and understand from senior leadership of the absolute need for organizational change management.

What's the most effective way to implement change?
Build an active coalition of collaborators and communicators across all levels of the organization. Change is now everyones business and not that of a handful of subject matter experts.

How do you measure the success of a change initiative?
Adoption of new processes and technology. Employee engagement. Customer satisfaction. Continual feedback loops.

What's your best piece of advice for facilitating successful change?
Be resilient. Be brave. Be bold. Be different.

 

7. Lena Ross, Change Consultant at #ChangeHacks

What's the biggest challenge during a change & transformation initiative?
Behaviours and mindset, senior leadership sponsorship.

What's the most effective way to implement change?
Co-creation, less hierarchical approach, application of agile principles to align with new ways of working.

How do you measure the success of a change initiative?
It varies. I look for adoption and behaviour changes that will support success in the future state and align the measures to support that.

What's your best piece of advice for facilitating successful change?
Leaders - model the behaviours you want to see, look for hidden influencers in the organization who can support the change.

 

8. Beverly Flaxington, President at The Collaborative

What's the biggest challenge during a change & transformation initiative?
Helping others see the benefit of making the change.

What's the most effective way to implement change?
I give people a process, we have trademarked it called S.H.I.F.T.(R) and once they take the steps, they see clearly what they need to do, and how to do it.

How do you measure the success of a change initiative?
Did you reach the desired outcome? What quantitative and qualitative changes can you measure?

What's your best piece of advice for facilitating successful change?
Focus on your obstacles and then categorize them - what can you control, what can you influence and what's out of your control?

 

9. Dawna Jones, Change Innovator at Insight Out Consulting Inc.

What's the biggest challenge during a change & transformation initiative?
Working with different levels of consciousness at the same time in a way that allows all to find their way.

What's the most effective way to implement change?
Listen deeply. Empathically. Ask questions you don't know the answer to. Pay attention to what has heart and meaning. Follow the joy.

How do you measure the success of a change initiative?
By how well it engaged and transformed diverse perspectives - renewing the human spirit - through the process of working with tough often difficult conversations. Expansion of love.

What's your best piece of advice for facilitating successful change?
Listen to your body, particularly your heart as it is your guide and your antennae to the group's emotion.

 

10. Luc Galoppin, Organizational Change Practitioner at Reply-MC

What's the biggest challenge during a change & transformation initiative?
Convincing sponsors that change happens in small pockets of democracy and not in one major 'go-live'.

What's the most effective way to implement change?
Putting a focus on community development and all underutilized opportunities for people to choose to become accountable. Being OK with refusal means that people who do join your initiative will be there by choice. We don't need a majority to start a change - but those who joined need to be accountable.

How do you measure the success of a change initiative?
Seeing how the narrative of stakeholders evolves about the initiative. Realizing that KPI's are a proxy measurement of what we want to monitor (so not rejecting those quantitative measuring points all together, but rather putting them into the perspective of the importance of narrative). Brené Brown said it well, 'Stories are data with a soul'.

What's your best piece of advice for facilitating successful change?
Be fully there when you are there with the group you are facilitating. With your full self.

 

11. Anna Gullstrand, Founder, Process Designer & Facilitator at Studio How

What's the biggest challenge during a change & transformation initiative?
Creating engagement in the whole team and getting everyone to work in the same direction. Building a sense of safety/control in a changing context.

What's the most effective way to implement change?
Using knowledge about how to award our brains (neuroleadership/social brain/scarf-model) to make sure that people have full access to their capacity and creativity.

How do you measure the success of a change initiative?
Team engagement rates and KPI:s connected to the main goal of the initiative.

What's your best piece of advice for facilitating successful change?
Create an appreciative culture, visualize your common dream about the future (do not use fear when creating a sense of urgency).

 

12. Rich Batchelor, Chief Change Agent at Capillary Consulting

What's the biggest challenge during a change & transformation initiative?
Viewing the change holistically rather than through a project managers lens.

What's the most effective way to implement change?
Doing change WITH the workplace, so they are part of the change and feel a part owner.

How do you measure the success of a change initiative?
Resilience, readiness and adoption are primary drivers, sustainment and capacity building secondary.

What's your best piece of advice for facilitating successful change?
Don't do change to people, do it with them.

  

13. Edith Onderick-Harvey, Managing Partner at NextBridge Consulting

What's the biggest challenge during a change & transformation initiative?
Identifying and engaging stakeholders. My clients often underestimate the importance of identifying who stakeholders are early in the process. They tend to focus to narrowly. Then, it's critical to engage those stakeholders early on.

What's the most effective way to implement change?
There are three key components. First, create a compelling, clear purpose. People need to understand not just what the vision is the change will fulfil. They need to know why it's important. Second, you need to be very clear about what is changing and how it is different from today. That informs what you need to do to get to that vision. Third, you need to engage people through continual dialogue so you can help them move from awareness of the change, through understanding it, to embracing it. You want them to be active players in the change, not passive bystanders.

How do you measure the success of a change initiative?
A change initiative is successful when it meets its business objective. You need to define how you will measure success at the beginning of the change. It goes back to that clear, compelling purpose.

What's your best piece of advice for facilitating successful change?
Be clear about what success looks like, who you need to engage to get there and how are you going to keep continual dialogue going.

 

14. Susan Johnston, Head Coach & CEO at It's Understood Communication

What's the biggest challenge during a change & transformation initiative?
Helping leaders understand that they need to be believed. They need to do more than just make a decision and tell people about it. They need to be involved and be seen to be involved. And they need to act in alignment with what they say. And then do it.

What's the most effective way to implement change?
Communication - a lot of it - about the, sometimes small, things that show evidence that things done the new way are working. EVIDENCE of success, expressed in the words and actions of people who are being asked to change their ways. Defuses some skepticism.

How do you measure the success of a change initiative?
Does behaviour change?

What's your best piece of advice for facilitating successful change?
Involve influencers at every level and have them show evidence change is needed and working - not just pretty visions.

 

15. Heather Stagl, Change Facilitator at Enclaria

What's the biggest challenge during a change & transformation initiative?
Fitting change activities into everything else the client has to do and keeping it top of mind.

What's the most effective way to implement change?
The methodology I've developed is comprised of five drivers of change, the things change practitioners need to do to implement effective change: Clarify change, reduce resistance, leverage leadership, build structural influence, apply personal influence.

How do you measure the success of a change initiative?
Define at the beginning the end result the change is supposed to achieve - otherwise, why do it?

What's your best piece of advice for facilitating successful change?
My best rule of thumb: When designing change management activities, always try to do change with people, not to people.

 

16. Mark Storm, Catalyst for Change & Renewal at Mark Storm

What's the biggest challenge during a change & transformation initiative?
As always, the biggest challenges are dealing with people's belief systems and cognitive biases, and making executives understand that 'change' is not something you do every now and then, e.g. through change management processes, but rather that 'change' is most and foremost about experimentation and continuous learning.

What's the most effective way to implement change?
The best way to implement effective change is by changing people's habits and behaviour. This also entails helping people to understand how they see themselves and the world around them, and how their views affect the way they work (together).

How do you measure the success of a change initiative?
Simply put: by seeing the effects of behavioral change in action.

What's your best piece of advice for facilitating successful change?
Change isn't a linear path forward. Instead, it resembles Jackson Pollock's Number 14 Gray. Change is arts & craft, not process & management.

 

17. Edoardo Binda Zane, Leadership & Teamwork Trainer at Edoardo Binda Zane

What's the biggest challenge during a change & transformation initiative?
Getting the resources for the necessary cultural change. Most of the time, companies tend to focus on the strategy aspect - e.g. "now we are going to go agile and we will implement these new processes from tomorrow onwards" - but forget the cultural part - i.e. "how can we make sure that people will be ok with this new way of working and not fight change?". This happens way more often than I'd like to admit, usually because people understand strategy much better than culture, and therefore tend to focus on that.

What's the most effective way to implement change?
Start from the people. My workshops are focused on training people skills - not describing methods, not providing new tools. This is a slower process, and it looks more expensive because of the amount of training required - in reality it equates, as people will be ready to drive into change much more effectively if they have a stronger backbone. In practice this means fewer mistakes and higher resilience.

How do you measure the success of a change initiative?
Strategically, you use measurable goals (SMART indicators). Culturally, you ask people for feedback, regularly, and learn from that.

What's your best piece of advice for facilitating successful change?
Start with the culture, organizational change and new tools will follow.

 

18. Cinthya Quijano, Director and Principal Consultant at Change Differently

What's the biggest challenge during a change & transformation intiative?
The biggest challenge is that many times, organizations want to change the issue they can perceive rather than digging deeper and finding the "real" thing. The challenge for us as facilitators of change is to get the buy-in to explore at a deeper level.

What's the most effective way to implement change?
Engaging people from the start. It reduces resistance, but most of all I find it creates amazing ideas of how things can be done or creates innovation.

What's your best piece of advice for facilitating successful change?
Talk to people and be honest. Sometimes it is better to feel like you are over communicating. Keep it consistent, concise and authentic.

 

19. Wendy Hirsch, Principal at Wendy Hirsch Consulting

What's the biggest challenge during a change & transformation initiative?
Identifying the relevant challenge for the current situation. Context makes a big difference in implementation; I don't think there are "universal" challenges.

What's the most effective way to implement change?
Use a comprehensive framework to guide your change approach. For instance, I developed an implementation framework with four key elements — components (what), roles (who), phases (when), and context (where). Using such a framework ensures you don't overlook critical aspects of a successful change approach.

How do you measure the success of a change initiative?
I like to think about change success in a multi-faceted way. So, I look at three areas: completion (did you complete the change implementation?); achievement (did you attain the results you intended?); and acceptability (how satisfied were stakeholders with the change process and outcomes?)

What's your best piece of advice for facilitating successful change?
Be confident in your skills, but remember we all have weaknesses, too. Aim to assemble an implementation team with diverse skills and perspectives, which complement, not duplicate, yours.

 

20. Dev Mookherjee, Partner at Metalogue Consulting

What's the biggest challenge during a change & transformation intiative?
Overcoming inertia and the belief that the change is not required and will never happen "if I keep my head down".

What's the most effective way to implement change?
Acknowledging and dealing with endings and the binds, obligations and identities that connect people to ideas, beliefs and other people.

How do you measure the success of a change initiative?
My measurements are to do with two types of outcomes: the primary outcome of making the specific change happen, and a secondary one about how the change has happened and whether the change initiative has built trust and social capital or whether it has eroded it.

What's your best piece of advice for facilitating successful change?
Inquire, don't just sell.

 

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