I recently got a call from a CEO of a software company that is bringing to market a financial accounting system that generates increased profit for clients by shifting how they run the financial aspects of their business. The software company is overwhelmed with sales. Their business model is that they do not take fees; rather, they take a percentage of the clients increased profits. Very cool.
The problem is that their software drives real transformational change in the business as it calls for a dramatic shift of mindset and behavior. The CEO called me asking if we could train and certify in the Being First Approach 40 transformational change consultants in the next 6 months. Over the past year, he’s found that traditional change management consultants do not have sufficient skills to make these implementations successful, and his company does not get paid unless they are successful.
The core skill he is looking for but cannot find in traditional change management is Conscious Change Process Design. This is a critical, albeit advanced, skill inherent in conscious change leadership.
I often conceive of conscious change process design as a river, with me designing where it needs to flow. It all starts with identifying the impacts the content changes will have on stakeholders. In transformational change, these impacts often take the form of stakeholder resistance in one way or another. One must look underneath the resistance, however, and identify what core human needs are being triggered that is causing the resistance. Such needs can include: safety, inclusion, power, order and control, competence, justice and fairness. In other words, the new content is bringing up the stakeholders’ natural human issues, and these will need to be resolved for them to really buy-in and commit to implementing and using the new content optimally. Your river will have to flow through these issues.
There are many ways to handle stakeholder resistance, but none work as well as consciously designing a change process that in itself mitigates that resistance. This means designing the activities and tasks of the change process so stakeholders’ concerns get met. For example, let’s assume the new software triggers control issues. Then, the change leaders would want to engage those stakeholders early, giving them as much control as possible over both the change process and the use of the new content. If the underlying issue was competence, then the change leaders would want to engage stakeholders early so they could build their competence, and therefore, confidence in the new content. They’d want to announce early that everyone will get adequate training, and that no one will be held accountable for using the new system perfectly until after they have been trained.
Conscious change process design requires a deeper insight into the human dynamic. You simply must understand the inner workings of people. It requires flexibility, as you must constantly adjust your change process as new dynamics emerge. It also requires an expansive level of awareness to see impacts across the enterprise and how the content/people dynamic is likely to unfold over time.
Conscious change process design is anything but linear. You have to put aside set, predetermined formulas, and bring your wisdom to the show. People using an end-to-end change process methodology like The Change Leader’s Roadmap can rely on their methodology to gently inform them of the general direction of change, but on the ground, you will constantly need to be awake, and consciously design each step along the way to account for the specific dynamics you face. Make your river flow through and handle these issues and you will succeed.