The change. Like changing euros into dollars, a bill of exchange or the expression “give the exchange”.
In venerable “Giving the change”, it is the animal’s trick by which it diverts the pack on the trail of another beast. “Giving someone a change” is making them think of one thing as another. Sort of trying to make him swallow snakes. “Taking the change” is letting yourself be deceived.
All these things must be left aside when we talk about driving, accompanying or experiencing change in a positive and effective way.
We are also familiar with the expression “change of mind as well as of shirts”. I have also seen organizations in which changes in vision, direction, orientation, policy, way of operating have been so frequent that compliant employees have complied without even trying to understand why the how. In this type of organization, it must be noted that involvement and motivation seemed to be inversely proportional to the number of changes.
In short, to win in exchange, you have to know how to do it. Change your shoulder rifle: yes, but not too often and visibly wisely from my own experience. In terms of change, as in many areas, who fails to prepare for it is preparing for bankruptcy.
To consider change, the first essential and necessary step is to focus on these two elements intrinsic to the very idea of change: the starting situation and the situation to be achieved, the present state and the desired state.
THE STAGES OF CHANGE
Current situation: current situation – situation after change
This first step consists in studying these two elements in detail. If the idea is to change in order to move away from a situation that no longer suits, it is better to start by studying the present state and vice versa if the change project is rather induced by the idea of moving towards a situation that would seem more appropriate.
Whatever the order, studying, specifying, defining the desired state and the present state makes it possible to avoid starting from preconceptions, preconceived ideas, false leads and to tend towards a realistic situation. Generally to define the two states, I strive to collect and classify information according to the 6 logical levels proposed by Robert Dilts: the environment (where, when, with whom), behaviours (actions), capacities (skills, talents, qualities), beliefs and values, identities and meaning.
ANALYSIS OF THE DIFFERENCES AND SIMILARITIES BETWEEN THE 2 SITUATIONS
The next step is to analyze the contrast. In other words, compare these two states, these two situations: what is similar and what is different.
This exercise begins to give a first vision of the change, the gap between the two situations, the distance to be covered. It makes it possible to assess the importance of the change and at what level it is. This step is completed by a systemic analysis which consists in assessing the direct and indirect consequences on the current system. What are the collateral impacts? There are matrix-type methods and tools available here to provide a comprehensive overview of the situation.
At the end of these first two steps, the aim is to know the starting point and the end point, to know what the benefits are, the interests to be changed and the issues associated with the change (the consequences). In some cases, at this stage the question of GO/NO GO may be asked.
LEADING THE WAY TO CHANGE
Once the present state, desired state and contrast are studied, the third step is to analyze the path. That is, the process, the different steps and the means to be implemented to move from the current situation to the desired situation.
There are two possible approaches: forecasting and backcasting:
Forecasting consists of starting from the current situation and moving towards the desired situation.
Backcasting consists of starting from the desired situation to the present one.
For my part, I prefer to use both approaches, starting with one or the other, whatever. Making the path in one direction and then in the other gives different and complementary elements.
SYSTEMIC APPROACH AND CHANGE
At the end of this stage, the itinerary is drawn. At each stage, in a systemic way, different elements are defined: with whom, with whom, when, the operations to be carried out, the skills, qualities, means to be implemented, the helping beliefs, the values and needs met, the associated identity representation and the meaning given to the action.
At this stage, the change, as a process that makes it possible to move from a “state” A to a “state” B is clear. Decision makers have in their hands all the elements that allow them to pronounce a GO or NO GO. Is it worth it? The relevance of this evaluation depends greatly on the objectivity and impartiality with which the previous steps are carried out, hence the importance of carrying out the preliminary work in a collegial manner and the interest of associating an external perspective.
The results of the three previous steps are input data for the subsequent design of the support and change management system.
In terms of motivation, the change management system focuses on communication and managerial practices. What information should be provided and collected initially and throughout the change process, to whom, how often and in what form? It is important to stress here that this is about communication and not about the dissemination of information. Communication must be dynamic and interactive.
Any change process must systematically involve a formalized communication process and a clear specific managerial line.
These preparatory phases for any change are essential. The time, energy and resources devoted to them are certainly not negligible, but undoubtedly without any measure with what it would be necessary to deploy to correct an inappropriate process and repair its consequences. Prevention is better than cure.