If you are interested in change management, you probably have like me a dozen or more books on your bookshelf, each on a specific dimension of the change management process, and no one addresses the whole process. You also know that you are likely to buy the next highly acclaimed one to be published when searching for the elusive “answer” that yields the desired results from your change management initiatives.
This is why Leslie Allan’s book is such a gift to leaders, leaders, leaders, and supervisors who want to start a change process in their organizations. It is a complete guide and true to its subtitle a very practical guide.
How often have you heard the comment: Change doesn’t work? True, it does not do for many people and organizations. This is not because change management initiatives are often poorly conceived, planned and implemented. It is important to note initially that Leslie Allan believes that for change management initiatives to be successful in organizations, they need to be led by CEO, executives and managers, not HR. So his book outlines a process that these people can go through that provides the best possible guarantee that the change they want and need to implement will produce the results they want.
The book is actually a workbook, which is why it is so valuable. It takes teams and their leaders through the entire change management process from conception to implementation. However, it is not read-chapter-1 and do-chapter-1 and then move on to chapter-2 book. Rather, it is a book a change management team with a commitment to reflective practice can work through as a group PRIOR to begin a change process in their organization. This will mean that the management team becomes aware in advance of the possible challenges to the successful implementation of their plan and can tackle them. In other words, many of the barriers to success would be solved BEFORE the process even begins.
However, this is not a book on smooth strategies. From the beginning, it is contextualizing change management, which is very important for any change management team to do to ensure the integrity of their initiative. This is the part that is often overlooked or only superficially treated and therefore results in a poorly thought out and ultimately unsuccessful process. Leslie Allan highlights the importance of tackling six contextual issues at the outset:
- forces for change – what are the external and internal forces in their country, industry, organization and in the global community?
- the extent of the change – how much of the organization will it include or influence?
- goals of change – is it about infrastructure, systems, people, structure or culture?
- duration of change – is it short, intermediate or long?
- depth of change – will it be incremental and linear or transformational and multi-dimensional?
- direction of the force for change – will it be driven from above or will it emerge from the front line workers?
However, it is Leslie Allan’s six phase, innovatively presented CHANGE process that makes up the bulk of his book (colored chart of this cannot be shown here):
Grange of capacity
Each of these phases is dealt with in depth and spreadsheets are provided for each, allowing people to record and document their ideas and responses as they proceed. While this approach has been presented in a linear way for people to see the process, Leslie Allan makes it very clear that in practice it is not a linear process. He makes the point throughout the book that it is humans, not machines, that make changes happen – or hinder them – and that those who make the change have to go back and forth all the time, repeating the vision and repeating the message for a long time variety of ways to get the support of their people.
In fact, one of the most important chapters for me was the G-section on increasing the capacity of people. After all this is my area of expertise and interest! Leslie Allan stresses the importance of investing in the people of the organization and their training, taking into account their different ways of learning and knowing and understanding if we want change initiatives to be successful. This fit well with the emphasis he placed on the importance of communication in his H-section on utilizing support.
One of the great values of this book is that it addresses the important planning issues that relate to organizational and business goals. It addresses e.g. The performance metrics of change management, but it also strongly supports the commitment of the organization’s people in the process of change and offers a lot of support, ideas and suggestions on how to do it in a way that will ensure the success of the change initiative. It underlines the need for those who lead the process not only to be technically proficient, but also to have highly developed soft skills, all of them important people skills, interpersonal and communication skills.
This book is too comprehensive to review in its entirety. However, it is a book that I would recommend to a large number of professionals and business executives, not just to the people who initiate a change management process. It has excellent sections for e.g. Project managers, team leaders and people who are engaged in training and development. It also has valuable information on the psychology of resistance and how to win people over to new ideas and changes, an excellent section on communication, good information on goals and a comprehensive section on team building.
While I see this book as a very valuable book on change management that should be on your bookshelf, I do not advertise it as the magic sphere of change management because there is no magic in change. It’s hard work! However, the book is a very helpful, practical and excellent guide to the process of change management. It outlines a path to follow; it raises highly relevant issues for consideration; it offers many, many solutions to common problems associated with change management initiatives. The thirteen worksheets that come with the book mean that readers, after reviewing the book, have a very well-developed draft of a change management process – all before beginning.
Leslie Allan is the CEO of Business Performance Pty Ltd, a company that specializes in creating hands-on tools and guides to help HR professionals perform their roles more effectively. Mr. Allan has helped organizations improve their capacity for over 20 years. He has contributed in various roles as manager, consultant and trainer in the production and service industry, both for public and private organizations. Mr. Allan has led and been involved in the full range of change programs, including training function launches, strategic planning, new technology implementation, continuous process improvement, building redesign, workplace communication, and customer focus initiatives.
Mr. Allan is a prolific writer on business issues with many journals and web articles in his honor. He is also the author of five books on employees’ ability, education and change management. Mr. Allan currently serves as a Divisional Council member for the Australian Institute of Education and Development and is a member of the Australian Institute of Management and the American Society for Quality.
More information about this book can be found at http://www.businessperform.com/html/managing_change.html.