How to Eliminate Change Management for Business Process Improvement

POST on Process Improvement by Sonia Pearson

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When implementing large-scale changes within an organization, it’s generally considered that you need standard change management processes and procedures to ensure that key factors aren’t missed. However, as with any bureaucratic process, this can also backfire and create delays to developments that need to be done more swiftly, so you need to know what is the right set-up for your business and whether or not to eliminate change management.

For many companies, especially large corporate organizations, a change management process is essential and can work perfectly to ensure that changes are implemented in the right way to keep staff and stakeholders on-board and informed about the impacts and benefits. However, if you are finding that your change management strategies are causing most of the negative impacts, it can be time to take another look at what’s going on and whether you need to strip back the rules and regulations.

Do You Need to Eliminate Change Management?

So, what is right for your business? Firstly you need to look at what is going on there at the moment and whether it is helping or hindering your processes. Here are some questions you need to ask:

What is the purpose of your change management process?

Why was it implemented in the first place? Was there a proper investigation into whether it was needed and what the benefits would be? Of course, you need to be sensitive about the internal politics of who instigated this originally, but understanding more about what it was meant to achieve is the best way to be able to take the next step.

What impact is it having?

You’ll always need to have evidence to back up the decision to eliminate change management, so have a look at whether response times are up, and whether customer satisfaction is down. These should both be getting measured as a matter of course, so if they aren’t, you certainly need to start doing it, otherwise making a decision like these will always be a stab in the dark.

What would be the benefits be of elimination?

If you’ve got the evidence of where things are going wrong, what can you show off what stripping things back would achieve? This may all sound like more delaying stages in what you’re aiming to be completely the opposite of that, but recklessness is never the way forward. If you’re going to eliminate change management, you need to know for certain that it’s the right thing to do.

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The Problems With Change Management

So what kinds of problems can change management processes cause? The most common is with time delays due to lengthy approval procedures, unnecessary repetition of work and confusion over ownership of various aspects. If all change management requests are going to an advisory board or a member of management with sign-off duties, this can be overwhelming and lead to a bottleneck, causing frustration all around.

Another issue can be when change management processes are all about the bureaucracy and not aimed at solving issues for customers or colleagues. This is, quite simply, crazy. The whole point of change management is to make things easier for the people in your organization to deal with potentially disruptive changes and to make them quickly beneficial rather than problematic. So what can be done? You need to eliminate change management, or at the very least the aspects that are slowing things down.

How To Eliminate Change Management

So you’ve identified that change management is slowing down your business and causing more problems than it is resolving, what next? Here are some steps you can take to improve your processes and eliminate change management stumbling blocks:

Make all your processes customer-centric

By customer-centric, we include your colleagues too as they are your customers when it comes to most change that needs to be managed. Of course, any big change that affects external customers needs to be a priority as that can badly impact on sales and reputation, but the most important thing is to make sure these processes are specific to the customers affected. One size doesn’t necessarily fit all, so don’t try and shoehorn processes in where they don’t fit.

Be lean and flexible

To achieve the above, you need to eliminate change management wherever it is too rigid and/or bloated. Change management processes for the sake of processes must be stripped out to speed things up and give you a lean and agile set of procedures that do the job in half the time or less. And flexibility is key because not every change that needs to be managed is the same, so your processes shouldn’t be either. Colleagues will get sick of these processes, especially if they feel like a waste of everyone’s time for smaller changes that simply don’t need the same rigmarole as something more all-encompassing.

Better sign-off processes

How are your changes currently signed-off? If there’s a committee who meet once a week (or once a month!) to agree on things, this will inevitably cause irritation and inefficiency, so you need to scrap that right away. Sign-offs should be decided on a case-by-case basis, depending on the size and severity of the change being implemented. Too much of this kind of decision-making is done because of a culture of fear and blame, leaving individual managers unwilling to stick their necks out, but this only causes more problems.

Empower your staff

It’s not just managers who can be stifled and encumbered by change management processes. Your staff needs to know that you have the confidence in them to achieve what they are meant to achieve, and holding them up with red tape is the opposite of this. So strip away the processes and procedures around change management that are holding your staff – and therefore your business – back.

Communicate!

One element of change management that you can never eliminate altogether is the need for clear communication with staff and stakeholders to make sure they are informed and engaged. No matter how lean your process becomes, you still need to factor this in, otherwise, you will still lose people along the way.

Change management will always have its uses because change is a part of life for any business. However, if the processes are more about box-ticking exercises than guiding through developments and improvements, you need to eliminate change management until you can finally achieve meaningful and impactful change.

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