CrimesceneAt approximately 2:47 am, Orgwide authorities received a frantic call of a possible 415 in progress (415 being the Orgwide code for “change management initiative in distress”). Orgwide representatives were quickly dispatched to the scene of the incident, arriving at 2:53 am. Sadly, the change management initiative in question was DOA. The following Change Management Investigation Report outlines the grisly details of the event, including what could have been done to prevent the tragedy.

Background: The subject of this investigation is the circumstances surrounding the untimely demise of an organizational change management initiative.

Description of the Victim: The victim is described as a well-planned and much needed change initiative. Individuals familiar with the change described it as “normal” and “typical for around here.” When asked to describe the victim, a neighbor said this: “I don’t understand how this could happen. After all, it was just a series of steps or actions designed to guide a team through a transition from a current state to a desired future state.”

Suspected Cause of Death: There is strong evidence of reckless endangerment and abandonment. Specifically, it appears that a lack of understanding and proper care for the change initiative contributed to its death. Based on the results of the autopsy, potential causes have been narrowed down to six specific actions that were either not taken or were performed incorrectly and resulted in the death of the initiative.

1. “Explain Why” - As evidenced by the malnourished condition of the initiative, it has been concluded that the leader responsible for the care and implementation of the change did not understand the “why” or the “what” of the change and therefore was unable to adequately communicate it to others. Note: This is a common cause of death for many change initiatives. Instead of taking the time to fully understand why a change is taking place and what it is, some leaders simply parrot their bosses about what must be done. This results in ambiguity, which then results in confusion, lack of action, and a severely underdeveloped initiative.

 2. “Be Candid” - Based on the evidence of blunt-force trauma, we have determined that the leader was not candid about the magnitude of the change and did not put it in the proper perspective. When things change, it is important to be realistic about how big or small the change is so others are not taken by surprise. When employees are surprised and not prepared for what’s going to happen, they are far more likely to react adversely to the change initiative.

 3. “Address Fears” - The degree of rigor mortis observed suggests the change met with resistance consistent with the reaction of a terrified team. While difficult to prove, it seems that no one had bothered to identify the employee’s potential concerns much less work through them. By not addressing the rational (and irrational) fears and concerns of employees, those same fears and concerns paralyzed the employees and the initiative.

 4. “Grieve the Past” - Toxicology reports show that leaders did not give their people an opportunity to grieve the loss of their dear friend: familiarity. In the absence of real closure and acknowledgment that the “way it was” is no longer possible, many people simply can’t let go, can’t move on, and won’t embrace the new reality.

 5. “Move with Speed” - There is physical evidence to suggest the change initiative was slowly tormented over an extended period of time. It is clear the culprits timidly poked at the change as opposed to clearly and decisively moving forward. It is clear that the perp made a few small attempts over a long course of time, which resulted in the life of the change initiative simply fizzling out.

 6. “Stay Focused” - The chaotic manner in which the initiative was dismembered suggests that the perpetrator did not stay focused on the change and frequently lost sight of the task at hand. In doing so, the initiative itself lost energy and consciousness, and ultimately fell apart.

In a final statement to the community, a close relative of the deceased had this to say:

“Friends, family, neighbors—when is this senseless violence going to stop? Today we lost a great change management initiative … and for what, I ask you? So much promise, so much potential—gone. Managers and team members in the community, I don’t want your change management initiatives to become statistics, and so I offer you these words of advice: take the time to truly understand the intricacies of your own change management initiatives and share them to your team. Be candid about the magnitude of the change. Solicit feedback from your team about any concerns they have about the initiative and work through them. Give your team a chance to reflect on the current state of affairs, the ‘good old days,’ before the change is implemented. When it comes time to finally implement the change, act swiftly and with purpose. Stay focused. And finally, once it’s all said and done, celebrate the transition!

Sadly, this is one change management initiative we can’t bring back. But if you remember the words I just spoke to you, your change management initiatives will thrive! Your team members will embrace them! And your businesses will prosper!”

Click here to learn more about the services we offer at Orgwide that can help your change management initiatives succeed.

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