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Oh How Organizational Change Management Has Changed…

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Some of the core ideas about human behavior that shape the field of Change Management have been around for over 50 years. But the field itself is relatively young. In the last 20 years, the field has grown and changed tremendously and more is yet to come.

In the mid-90’s, when many of us at Change Guides were just getting our start, big consulting firms like Deloitte Consulting and Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) created Change Management methodologies for the first time. Practitioners read John Kotter and Daryl Conner (ok, so some things haven’t changed) but generally, available resources were limited. There was a lot of experimentation – what works and what doesn’t?

In 2005 when Change Guides formed, experimentation led to best practices and we published the first accessible methodology and toolkit focused on Change Management (The Change Management Pocket Guide, First Edition on Today, ten years after the start of Change Guides, we see a Pocket-2nddifferent landscape in terms of demand, advocacy and available resources.

Demand and advocacy
Then: We heard “what do you do?” Change Management Consulting and Training could be a hard sell. Change Management wasn’t in project budgets. Project or operational managers weren’t sure how the work that change management consultants differed from the work of project consultants. As a company whose sole business is Change Management, we were advocates and educators first. We had to teach our customers what deliverables and outcomes resulted from Change Management work and training.

Now: We hear, “we need Change Management on this project.” We’ve had repeat clients for years and we add new clients annually. Once companies experience what skilled Change Management resources do, the tides turn. Internally, business leaders advocate for Change Management resources. They advocate to develop skills internally and they set aside budget to fund external experts to help the overall effort.

Available Resources
Then: Information was out there, but it was not ubiquitous. Knowledge sharing was organic and informal. We talked face to face with colleagues about what they did, what worked and what didn’t. We listened, adapted, tried, sometimes failed but mostly succeeded in improving project outcomes.

As consultants solely focused on Change Management, we were an anomaly. Clients never had internal change management resources. There were no CMOs (Change Management Offices). There were no Chief Change Officers, no certified change management professionals. There were no Change Management Workstreams in projects (unless we were there to add them).

CG-Web-IconNow: Knowledge is readily shared in the form of books, eBooks, LinkedIn groups, Blogs, YouTube videos, Change Management certifications (like our very own Change Guides Change Management Certification) and Change Management apps like our free Change Readiness Audit (add links). More consultants are dedicated to the field of Change Management as seen by the growth of the Association for Change Management Professionals (ACMP) and the Change Management Institute (CMI).

Clients build internal competencies and centers of excellence (COEs) in managing change with leaders and internal subject matter experts (SMEs). They demand more from their partner consulting and training firms. They need external resources that partner with internal SMEs, help develop their internal competency and provide a higher level of experience and expertise.

While Change Management has changed over the years, more is on the horizon. We know that the foundational truths like the ones captured in our second book, The Eight Constants of Change, still apply and probably always will. But we are always learning. The field will grow as experienced practitioners continue to learn and grow and feed that learning back into the field, as the Change Management research base grows, and as the workforce changes.

We are excited to continue leading the evolution of this important field. As Change Management work evolves, we predict that consultants will fall into two groups – Change Management Generalists and Change Management Specialist Experts. Generalist positions will exist internally and at consulting firms whose core competency is something other than Change Management (where Change Management is seen as an “add on” service). Firms like ours, who only do Change Management, will be hired as Specialist Experts to work with the Generalists. Whether our prediction about change management roles is correct or not, one prediction is certain… The field of Change Management will keep changing.

Have your own predictions? Join our LinkedIn Group  and let us all know what you think.

The Future is Here, Are We Ready?

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Bob Dylan once said, “There is nothing so stable as change.” Change is all around us, impacting every aspect of business from our workforce and our technologies, to the world in which we work.
When I first joined the workforce a few decades ago, I was surprised by the number of people I met who had over 30 years of service with the same organization. They worked traditional business hours and then left the office (and their work) behind to return home to their families.

Today, statistics show that younger workers have an average tenure of only 3 years of service. And the traditional workday has given way to a world of 24/7 global connectivity where “the barriers between work and life have all but been eliminated.”
The makeup of our workforce is also changing. A 2012 Economic Intelligence Unit Study shows that by the year 2030, 50% of the workforce will be made up of contingent workers (e.g., self-employed, independent contractors, temporary workers).

Today, Millennials make up over half of our workforce and they have vastly different expectations than the previous generations. This changing workforce is on the receiving end of the shift in the balance of power. With all the transparency brought about by LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and other social media, employees have greater control over navigating their careers and fulfilling their goals of finding flexibility and purpose in life.

Not only is the workforce changing, but so is the overall job market. Some jobs are going away, while new jobs are on the horizon. According to a US Department of Labor report, “65% of today’s students will be in jobs that don’t yet exist.” Already, we have seen a proliferation of jobs that didn’t exist even 10 years ago, such as App Developer, Chief Listening Officer, Data Scientist, or Cloud Engineer. Are we ready for some of the new jobs that Fast Company predicts will be in place by 2025? Where will “Corporate Disorganizers” or “Digital Detox Specialists” fit into our future organizations?

These are just a few examples of how the world of work is changing. The question is: are we ready for all the changes that are coming at us at an ever-increasing pace? According to Stephen Hawking, “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” So, how can we become more intelligent as business leaders and learn how to adapt to change?

It’s not enough to simply be aware of the trends. We need to take a more active role to understand these changes, prepare for their impacts, and in some cases, reinvent our organizations to get ahead of them.
Just as the floppy disc has given way to new cloud storage solutions, so too must our organizations evolve to meet the needs of our changing workforce. We should take a good hard look at our organizational structures, systems, and processes to make sure we are preparing for the future, versus perpetuating what might have worked in the past.

For example, how will we recruit, attract and retain employees in a world where ‘job hopping’ is the new normal? How will we modify annual performance review processes to meet the immediate feedback needs of the new generations? How will we manage all the information that is available to us without being crushed by its sheer volume and complexity? How will we leverage new technologies to train our workforce for skills that don’t yet exist? And how will we develop our future leaders in a world where the pace of change is more rapid than at any other time in history?

Even among these challenges, according to the Global Human Capital Trends 2015 report, Deloitte researchers found that the number one challenge facing business leaders in this “new world of work” is culture and engagement, (with 87% of organizations citing it as one of their top business challenges). “An organization’s culture—which can be loosely defined as “the way things work around here”—is increasingly visible for all the world to see.” How will our leaders create cultures that drive employee engagement in this age of changing expectations and increased transparency?

These are just some examples of the challenges that organizations are facing as the world around us changes. While this list of changes and challenges may seem daunting, as with many things in life, it’s less about what is happening, but more about how we approach and react to it.

The single most important thing we can do is have a mindset that welcomes and embraces change. Having a competency for getting ahead of change and managing it effectively will continue to be a source of competitive advantage. Arguably, those who view change as an opportunity will be the ones who succeed in this ever-changing world.

As Charles Darwin once said, “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive, but those who can best manage change.”

Change is here to stay. Are we ready?



[1] Global Human Capital Trends 2015:  Leading in the New World of Work, Deloitte University Press

[1] Global Human Capital Trends 2015:  Leading in the New World of Work, Deloitte University Press



Our Change Management Pocket Guide is now an App!

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change-pocket-guide-app-iconMany of our customers have asked over the past year about offering our Change Management Pocket Guide as an eBook. We listened. Change Guides is very excited to introduce The Change Management Pocket Guide in a mobile App format!

Here is some information about our new App:

The Change Management Pocket Guide mobile application is a practical resource for anyone tasked with making change happen. The tactical, hands-on electronic pocket guide is a fully functioning and integrated mobile app solution for Android and Apple devices.

Like the hard copy book, the Change Management Pocket Guide app uses the Change Management 101 Model to step you through three major phases of managing change: Plan, Do and Sustain. These three major phases are broken down into the two specific stages as you move from one phase to the next. The tools in the Change Management Pocket Guide are used to interactively gather information, set milestones, and measure progress. There are over 30 valuable change management tools and templates that are integrated within the mobile solution so that they can be purchased, downloaded and easily customized to match the requirements of your specific change challenge. Each tool in the change toolbox is detailed, flexible and scalable.

Use the In-App purchase functionality to download the tools you need directly from the Change Management Pocket Guide and customize them for your project. Each downloadable tool has already been created in Word and Excel and can be used as they are explained in the Change Management Pocket Guide.

Overview of App Functionality

The Change Management Pocket Guide mobile app allows you to use the “tools for managing change” in an interactive and useful format. You can read and learn about the Change Management 101 Model™ and use the tools, answer key questions and build your own change management solution with an actionable plan for each change initiative you encounter. The mobile app is designed around the following functional areas:

  • PDF Reader format: A consistent format with the ability to search, bookmark pages and zoom in/zoom out
  • Integrated Change Pocket Guide companion templates: In-App purchase functionality for all Change Management Pocket Guide templates
  • In-App share integration using Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn

To Purchase the Change Management Pocket Guide App: Visit the App Store ( or the Play Store ( today to buy the app for your mobile device.

About the developer: Apptimize Group is a mobile application design and development company that creates general and enterprise internally deployed mobile client solutions. Our focus is to create simple and useful mobile apps that make for a memorable customer experience. For more information visit and contact John Gurnick at

The Language of Silence

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As a leader, you have the best intentions.  After all, the buck stops at your desk.  You are responsible if the project fails, or better yet, if it’s wildly successful.  You’ve put all the right people in the right places, you know the rules, and you are the team’s biggest cheerleader.  So what could you do better?

One thing that many leaders miss or undervalue is the world of tacit or invisible communications… that mysterious, underground, semi-conscious world of implied or inferred messages that we all send continuously, whether we know it or not.

There are two sides to this coin: tactic communications that enhance or reinforce your words, and tacit communications that undermine or conflict with your words.  Often times without even realizing it, tacit communications can devalue or discourage performance, or value and encourage performance.  As the leader of your team, those underground unspoken messages that you send play a big role in how you motivate, inspire and drive others to live up to their full potential.

A simple example… how do you introduce your team members to a client or another leader in your organization?  Let’s say you are introducing two team members to an important client.  You introduce Mary with great enthusiasm, you draw her into the conversation, you make eye contact with her as well as your client, and there is a smile on your face and pride in your tone as you mention a few of her accomplishments.  You introduce John quickly, make no eye contact with him, and exclude him from the conversation as quickly as possible, and show little excitement on your face when you mention a few of his accomplishments.  It may not be your intent to create this inequity, but in a heartbeat, you have done so.  You have set Mary up for success and John for something less.

There are several differences in how this scenario differed between Mary and John. It included your tone of voice, hand gestures, choice of words, eye contact and interactions.  Your introductions revealed what you truly feel about Mary and John… and you can be sure they know the difference.  As leader you have done not only a disservice to John, but to yourself as well, as the end result is that you may never know John’s full potential since often times our employees live up to our expectations, not their potential.  On the other side of the coin, Mary’s introduction can have a huge impact on her performance, commitment, loyalty and output.

Beyond the relationship between you, John and Mary, your introduction will also profoundly impact their relationship with the client. That first impression you created for John and Mary with the client is more than lasting.  It is indelible and has set the stage for the quality of their relationship over the long term.

It is simple to know that tacit communications go far beyond simple introductions.  It takes place in every piece of communication that we deliver.  As a leader, keep up the great work that you are already doing.  But remember to recognize the messages you are sending and how they impact those who are receiving.  Words are important.  Tactic communications are paramount.

Five Signs You Need Change Management (Signs 2 & 3)

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So, from the previous post, we discussed how  if Leaders aren’t visibly supporting your project, you need Change Management. People take their ques from leaders to figure out what’s important and what’s not. But what else signals the need for Change Management activities?

Sign number 2 is when Employees don’t have a clue about what’s going to change.  Good communication takes strategy and planning. It takes organization, consistency and a continuous improvement mindset.  Sound easy? Most organizations don’t do it. They underestimate what it takes to communicate effectively. Although it takes effort, effective communication is worth it…and is a key element to successful organizational change.

The Change Manager drives a proactive, communication strategy aligned with the project and organization’s vision. This strategy considers messages and vehicles for large audiences as well as specific, targeted strategies for the different stakeholder communities. Often, different stakeholder groups have different needs for information. Vehicle effectiveness varies by audience as well. A change manager has the experience to understand how to communicate during change which is different from communicating during times of status quo.

Sign #3? When people talk about the project, you think, “Why are they saying THAT?”  For change to be possible, people have to believe that the change is worth doing. The idea of change can be a hard sell if the people believe everything is great just as it is. Perception is reality.

In this situation, the employees’ perceptions must be changed before their actions will change. To create this change, the current situation must be reframed in a way that gets the employees’ attention. This reframing will get people unstuck, get them to pay attention and, most importantly, get them to care about new ideas. Reframing also helps employees recognize there is room for improvement and change is a top priority. To change their perceptions, employees need new information, new cues and new messages.

A Change Manager knows how to reframe the situation, help create a sense of urgency and develop a case for change that resonates with the audience.

If you are on a project, where, leaders aren’t visibly and consistently supporting the effort, if you are on a project where stakeholders don’t understand the change and/or don’t think there is a need for the change, you need to add a member to your team with Change Management skills.

We’ve all seen projects fail. Recognizing these red flags and adding change management activities to the project plan, will absolutely increase the chances of project success. Stay tuned for signals 4 and 5 coming soon…

Being a Rebel Isn’t all Bad

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I always knew that being a rebel had an upside… Are you are Rebel or a Leader? Hopefully both!

A Simple Word – “Thanks”

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When many of us in the US are getting ready to hunker down with family and friends to enjoy our Thanksgiving holiday, it is a great time to think about giving thanks at work. 

It’s so easy to forget to say thanks.  We are all busy.  There are a million things going on.  We expect people to do their job and get on with it.  But just showing someone a little appreciation now and then can mean the difference between a “punch the clock” mentality and a committed and engaged co-worker.   

Leaders are often trying to figure out the best ways to incent people to do their best.  Of course they talk a lot about money.  And money is certainly nice.  But when leaders just take the time to show some true and honest appreciation for the work people do, the sacrifices they make, and the extra effort they spend…. they are always surprised by what a difference it makes in the outputs they see. 

And saying thanks is not just on the shoulders of the boss.  We should all thank our peers for their support, their ideas, and their companionship.  And we should even thank our boss for what they do. 

You likely spend more waking hours with your co-workers than you do with your family and friends.  These people are like your family.  Like it or not, you are in this together.  You are a team.  You are there to catch each other if someone falls.  You are there to catapult each other over the wall.  If any one person in your organization fails, the entire organization suffers.

Be grateful for each other.  And tell each other “thanks”.  People will appreciate it.  And so will you when they thanks back.

Plan, Do, Sustain

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So how do you actually manage change? We see so many clients who talk about the difficulties of change and recognize that they have issues with awareness, adoption, or internalization of new work behaviors. But lots get stumped when it comes to actually doing anything about it. “It is the soft and fuzzy stuff”, “you can’t really change behavior”, “the people stuff will just work itself out”, or “a good leader is what we need to fix it all.”

But there is actually work that can be done to make the behavior changes happen. A simple model can take you step by step through the activities to manage business change: “Plan, Do, Sustain.” Each phase includes two specific stages necessary to the change process. As you move from one stage to the next, just take it step by step – gather information, establish milestones, measure progress.

Try it… you’ll like it. It doesn’t have to be rocket science to work.