The principles of change management and change implementation have been studied and written about by many people. Indeed, as noted below, Dale Stanley and I have written about the subject (and continue to discuss change management with our clients and colleagues often). In the essay referred to below, we provide what we call “The Four Principles of Change Management,” identifying these attributes:
2. Champions and change agents
3. Organizational readiness and managing resistance
4. Communication planning
I’m beginning to wonder, though, if there isn’t another “first principle” that knowledge strategists must think about before we embark on a campaign of cultural change (or even – a little more realistically – creating or re-framing a specific KM/knowledge services project).
If we’re called upon to build a process and develop a plan for a knowledge initiative, what should we think about first? Perhaps we’ve been asked to work on creating a knowledge repository, say, or implementing a particular decision support tool. Whatever the task before us, planning that initiative is probably going to require a wide range of iterations and considerations.
And, yes, those four “principles” listed above are critical, but we must focus on another consideration (as noted by Ivan Yakunin in response to the previous post): if we’re going to succeed with managing and implementing change connected with a knowledge services initiative, change management “should be linked from Day 1.”
Here’s my concern: We’re going to move forward with the initiative following the steps of the classic project management framework, either formally or – in most cases I expect – informally. Those steps are pretty clear cut and include the classic five process groups: initiating the project, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing down. Most of us, as I say, usually include these in our project work, whether we think formally about it or not.
All well and good, but what I’m looking for is the point in the process where we bring in our methodology for dealing with the change. We know that change management and change implementation are going to be required if our KM/knowledge services initiative is to succeed, but when do we do it?
In our experience at SMR, we sadly don’t see change management usually given attention as the KM/knowledge services project moves forward. In some cases, project managers incorporate change management into the training required for implementing a new tool or technique but this, too, is often treated as an “add-on” or something to “finish with” (in some cases even relegated to Phase 5 or 6 of a seven-phase project – not good!).
And if the need for change is from an even bigger/broader perspective, there’s a more serious problem. How often do we hear references to the need for “cultural change” when we’re working with a knowledge services initiative? If we don’t approach change management and change implementation up front, I fear we’re building in failure, whether we’re aiming for culture change or even if our goal is a successful (limited) workplace initiative.
So I’m recommending we build change management considerations early into the process. What’s your opinion? Do you agree with me and Ivan Yakunin that we should approach change management and change implementation early on? What’s been your experience? How were you able to “move” change management up to earlier in the process? Tell us your story.
Background: The knowledge culture and the role of change management in the knowledge domain are often addressed at SMR:
1. In the SMR Management Action Plans, written by Dale Stanley and myself, each SMR MAP concludes with the essay “Managing Strategic Change.” You can read the essay on pp. 55-67 of Building the Knowledge Culture: The Knowledge Services Effect.
2. A brief summary of change management principles is included in Starting KM in Your Organization: Here’s Your Strategic Road Map (Fourth Stop: Think Big and Lead the Change), posted on March 28, 2011.
3. Presentation slides on change management and the knowledge culture are included in Knowledge Services and Change Management: Building the Knowledge Culture.