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To Standard or not to Standard?

When in the vicinity of Shakespeare....... One of the reasons why I attended the ACMP conference Change London last week wasn´t Shakespeare but the part about “mastering the key elements in applying the Standard for Change Management”. The Standard was released in September 2014, and just in time for the 10 th anniversary, ACMP is in the process of reviewing it. Naturally, one of the topics discussed was: do we need a standard to handle change management?

I find this a very interesting topic myself, as an engineer the use of standards, best practice methods and processes has been a big part of my professional career.

Let me state one thing first before diving into this: I believe a standard//method is a tool, and a tool itself has never built anything (or as we used to say in one company I worked for “No sales process has ever sold as much as a screw”). For me, a process (which the Standard for change management is in my opinion) is like a handrail, you hold on to it if needed and you know that it will lead you towards the goal you have. But it is up to you if you walk, run or crawl and if you hold on to it only when you are uncertain or tired, or all the time.

There was much debate and discussion in London around this topic, and I find it interesting that there should only be two sides, don´t use a standard or use a standard. Again, it is the way it is applied and the knowledge and abilities that each change practitioner has that will determine the success. But a standard helps, I think, it is a common language, it is something to go back to, it can guide you and make things easier. No matter how many templates, models or assessments you have, it still needs to be adapted to each change and organization.

I know that many believe that we only need to move to a 100% agile way of working because change is a constant and there is no way an organization can handle changes with different change initiatives. But change management has always been agile, you can assess and plan, but in the execution you will always be agile because the nature of change management means that you evaluate as you go along and adapt, the plans keep changing as you measure progress. And mayor changes will still need support from a project/initiative to manage.

Another value of a standard is that organizations can set a foundation to work with a structured way of driving change without having to decide on one model/methodology. With the standard as a base, you can add tools that you as a practitioner or the organization feels suits well and that you know how to use. After all, a lot of it is finding a common way to talk about what is and what will be.

One thing that I heard everyone agree on in London was that it is the ability to truly engage with people, hear them out and use your true self and your knowledge to lead change. As a change practitioner, that is what I try to do in every change initiative that I am involved in. It is not always easy, but I think it is the only way to succeed.

And that is the chemistry of change management!

What do you think, is a standard needed to drive change management?


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