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Ahhhh, change management

[or, to ascribe its formal status, let’s capitalize]

Change Management… How doth we love the sound of thy name? How many are the ways that we shall enshrine your virtues and purvey your countenance? How rich are the opportunities to spread your beneficence across a world that has lost its way in human foibles and trinkets?

Where, oh where, to start?

Well, first off, let’s refer you to our newly coined term: BureaucraSy. And

[because you’re likely an executive who is just tooooo busy, important and, above all else, infallible to actually take any time gaining new knowledge]

let’s summarise – people experiencing frustration introduce fixes that don’t work but induce frustration in other people who then introduce new fixes that… over and over and over in an endless cycle of

[billable hours]

well-meant insanity.

And each one of the fixes is accompanied by

[cue parting clouds, rays of sunshines and heavenly host of angels]

a robust change mana… sorry… Change Management Plan.

Because those fixes are firmly rooted from the view of the fixer as to how people should work, not how people are working.

Let’s take as an example the introduction of document management systems that require fifteen fields of meta-data to enable cataloguing and retrieval of information. That’s how the system works, it’s a beautiful, perfect filing regimen – the intranet equivalent of the dewey decimal system – everything in its right place. Disciplined. Clean.

So, logically, that’s how every user should work, right? Right?

The project team runs ahead and builds the chang… Change Management Plan with that in mind, drawing up from/to scenarios, business case definition, executive alignment assignments, training, knowledge transfer, incentive/dis-incentive cycles, WIIFM statements, etc, etc, etc.

[oh, how we love you billable hours]


Take the average employee – let’s call him Bob – and accompany him home, ask to look in his sock drawer. Chances are it isn’t meticulously arranged by colour, material weight, rate of aging

[sock aging ratios can be made available at for the right price]

nor will you find order in the t-shirt drawer or the shirt rail in the closet. Join Bob at his desk and ask to look at his e-mail. Chances are that his inbox is overflowing with many items out of date but not dealt with – if you’re lucky, Bob might use a folder structure to store old messages, or he might just be one of those people who copies himself on emails that he sends so they remain in his inbox, rather than making use of his ‘Sent Items’. Finally, let’s join Bob as he looks at his local drive, where he stores working documents. Chances are it’s chaos, absolute chaos.

But it’s a chaos that makes sense to Bob. That doesn’t mean it works, it’s just his reality and he knows how to work within it. It’s the way he is working.

Other, more organized people might take a look at Bob’s ways of working and scream in horror: “no-one should work that way!” Some might shower pity upon him. Others may even claim that there’s no way Bob could ever be a high performer with working practices such as his chaotic use of e-mail.

And they would, of course, be wrong.

But in the modern organization’s BureaucraSy, they would be able to make enough noise to the right people to justify a fix. And so the Change Management Plan would emerge for how people should work.

And everyone would be expected to change.

Every Bob and Bobette would be expected to undo their whole reality because there was a supposedly better way that they should work.

Wouldn’t it be better to invest the time, effort and

[billable hours]

emotional energy to listen to Bob and hear what would help him improve his performance and what gets in the way and then design the limited, minimal solution that he is already seeking – not the fix that tries to change his fundamental being?

Or in other words, how about we de-capitalize change management so we move away from:

“Everybody should… if only everybody would…”


“Where performance is blocked… somebody will be able to…”

Now, that’s a Change we could sign up to…


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