The New Paradigm for Change – Is change management dying?

Are we seeing signs that ‘Organisational Change Management’ is in its final death throws?

If you Google the subject, many people including thought leaders in the field such as Torbin Rick and Jason Little have written about the subject, with many predicting the end of life for many of the established change models and methodologies. Below are just a few examples:

Change Management is Dead by Vik Maraj and Kevin Gangel – Co-founders of Unstoppable Conversations

Change Management Might Be Dead – Let’s Go And Have a Nice Funeral, by Torbin Rick

Change Management: Is PROSCI dead? by Kirsten Osolind

Change Management: A Look Back at 2018 by Jason Little

I had the pleasure to meet another recognised thought leader in change management Dr Jen Frahm at the Canberra Convergence conference in 2018. Her recent post on 5 Change Management Predictions for 2019 includes an interesting perspective on the subject.

So what is really happening to the field of Change Management? Professional bodies such as the Change Management Institute are talking about how change management is changing and ChangeFirst in their blog talk about how Agile is turning organisational change management on its head.

I’ve been happy to call myself a Change Manager and worked with teams to ‘implement’ change by delivering a change management plan and performing all the expected activities such as communication, training and stakeholder engagement. And yes, I also make money from training people in Lean Change Management, so why have I started to think about whether this profession has a future with the Fourth Industrial Revolution upon us.

I think it comes down to the fact that I don’t believe you need a methodology or a process for change to happen. You can’t truly manage change. It is a fallacy driven by our basic human desires to create certainty and having a plan or process gives us a sense of this, however misguided. Leaders, managers and practitioners have bought into the notion that you must have a standardised way of managing change in order to be successful – especially when it comes to implementing new technology. Many people espouse the value of this standardisation and some have gathered evidence (all be it heavily biased) that following a change methodology will bring about change and its desired benefits.

In my experience it is relationships and trust which enable change to happen. Yes, you may have a framework which guides you with principles and a tool-kit to support your activities but at the end of the day its your human traits of empathy, creativity, collaboration and courage that really count.

At the 2019 World Economic Forum in Davos, many of the contributors talk about the transformational change organisations and institutions need to survive the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The traditional way of ‘leading’ or ‘managing’ change does not work in the new paradigm. Transformations will be driven by evidence, empathy, creativity, collaboration and courage not methodologies, standardised processes and premeditated timelines.

So the 20th Century approach to change is probably in its final phase of life but there is an exciting world ahead for people who are courageous and are prepared to learn new skills. Skills which are of value in a world where technology is fully integrated into our lives.

Charlotte Mawle
Change Management Specialist

With almost 30 years experience in Organisational Change, IT Service Delivery, and Coaching, Charlotte has dedicated her career to helping organisations creatively fuse ideas to become resilient and accelerate change. To read more about Charlotte and the Change Management workshops she delivers in Perth, please click on this link.