Manage Change, Achieve Alignment

We have often said at Clarus that “change management” describes most all of our work; that is, whether we are engaged to provide strategic planning services, communications planning, team development, or coaching, we are typically working with clients in situations of change.  At a recent internal professional development session, we set out to clarify how change management permeates Clarus’ work.

Change means simply “to make or become different.”[1] It has no positive or negative connotation, no inherent indication of speed or direction, even though more and more we seem to perceive change as rapid, positive and inevitably necessary.  We all experience change, some large, some small, in our individual lives and in our collective lives, as part of the groups and organizations we belong to.One might differentiate between change that is self-initiated and change that is responsive to external forces.  In either case, change can be seen as moving from a situation of misalignment to one of alignment, from a condition in which an individual’s skills, attitude, knowledge and actions do not produce desired outcomes in a given environment to one in which they do.  Or from a situation in which a company’s strategy, resources, structures and systems do not produce bottom-line results to one in which they do.  Change management, often coined as “managing the people side of change”, then, is the sum of the interventions applied to achieve (re)alignment.

Using this construct, it becomes clear that Clarus’ work is heavily engaged in change management.  The thorough diagnostic processes we design at the front end of most projects allow us to pinpoint areas of misalignment and the subsequent services – be they in strategy and planning, stakeholder engagement, communications planning or training and team development – serve as the tools and interventions to achieve alignment, preparing the client for positive results.

As an example, we recently completed work with a client on a strategic planning and organizational alignment project.  Through our initial interviews, it became clear that there was concern about team cohesiveness, internal communication and future leadership.  In response to this feedback, we designed a highly participatory process for developing the strategic plan that combined action planning with team development and leadership skills development.  The customized change management intervention moved the client forward not only on its strategic planning project but also on its goals of increasing team alignment and identifying future leadership.

Knowing that all organizations face change, the question becomes how to best deal with it. Thoughtful assessment of the circumstances and strategic re-calibration are key to achieving alignment within a new environment. Along the way, look for ways to leverage small changes into large ones.  Involve people who are affected by the change in designing change management strategies.  Communicate a lot, and always, celebrate successes.

Manage Change, Achieve Alignment

[1] Oxford Dictionaries, www.oxforddictionaries.com

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