Sciences Politiques Paris Conference


What is change management ?

Lecture at Sciences Po Paris.

Change management is a subject so vast that it covers basically the entire management of the company. Change management is of great importance in organizations, institutions or companies, most of them having experienced years of upheaval. However, the definition of a company policy, its variation in strategies, implementation structures and systems, including information, are never sufficient in themselves to produce change. They are only the frame. To set in motion the workforce, often prompt to conservatism, resignation or lack of enlightened leadership, we must act on the actual distribution of power, the behavior of actors vis-à-vis the change, the process by which organizations transform to better perform their duties and regulate their functioning.

I have, already, pronounced the most important word: process. The change is not an object that looks into space, but a process spread over time. The object is in space, process spreads over time. The change is a reflection of life as it flows continuously like the riverof Heraclites. It is therefore by nature intangible, difficult to master ...

To change an organization, you must use the right levers. The two questions are: what actors with lead change? through which projects? As the answer to both questions is not provided, we can not talk about change management. Of course, there are other considerations to take into account:

1. What potential do we have in the company, department etc ...?

2. Where does the company stand in its history? What is the path of employees?

3. What are the values, principles of action which are alive and its culture?

4. What are the main problems identified? The team leader? Among employees?

5. What is the emotional state teams? Fear? Enthusiasm? Resignation? The antagonism? The individual can save? The desire to move forward?

6 What are the perceptions of each other "professions"? For example, how experts perceive managers?

All these questions must arise a priori, before embarking on a process of change. These questions are also under way. They arise even when the change is completed, because it is threatened. Depending on the answers to these questions, we can speak of a change of relevant conduct. We will come back earlier.

In terms of change management, we have a vast repertoire which should be extracted and then interpret the correct partition. I'll try to show you some examples, highlighting whenever possible the role of a consultant guide.

First example: A company president, coming to take his position, changes its management team, and then analyzes the very conservative culture of the company. It uses a guide to help thinking and especially to take action. It then determines transversal projects for change in the field of commercial activity, the risk management and mobility. While working his personal style, he mobilizes the workforce through enhanced communication (seminars, visits the network). Project teams are formed and projects initiated. President follows closely the course and adjusts the process, while the guide follows the course of the entire process and promotes progression after identifying blockages.

Second example: The future leader of automotive equipment division is preparing to take its function. The group wants to give him every chance and places beside him a coach. Together, they identify key stakeholders, define the key issues and reflect on the projects to be launched in order to lead teams and to promote change (productivity, quality, time). In his current role as number 2, they test his management by project, how to promote the exchange of experience and deregulation. They analyze in depth the management mode, identify the gaps to move from the role of expert to that of full director.

Third example: The manager of a company - previously Commercial Director - takes over from charismatic former President, who retired. He launches a managerial audit, identifies strengths and weaknesses of the structure and gradually takes the role of facilitator (seminars, conduct of meetings, action plans). Mandated by the shareholder, the coach gives confidence in the new leader, helps set up priorities and acquire legitimacy.

Finally, another example that I experienced was related to the functioning of institutions: how to optimize the operation of the steering committee, working groups, the board of directors? The attendant can intervene in several directions: What is the correct mapping instances? How to articulate them? Who should do what? What time management put in place? It is therefore clear that the context dictates the type and nature of change to drive.

At the same time, there are constant, universal dimensions of change. Let me mention some. Change must be associated with the idea to work better, more efficiently, more together, more consistently. The way we communicate is a decisive departure. Change management is inseparable from the change itself. One must first blow its own locks: failures, fears, management style etc. ...

The legitimacy of a leader to drive change is based on its ability to make sense of the change proposed to team members. Legitimacy is based on attitudes and behaviors, not on techniques. Main attitudes are calm, confidence, courage. But there are other, equally necessary: ​​conviction, consistency, consideration. To promote change, it is necessary that legitimacy is perceived. Change is scary. Change needs to elicit a negative a priori questioning the status quo. It can be seen at the national level, but it is of course true in business. For this there are tools. I would like to quote some.

One is management audit. Some leaders want to undertake the audit of the management in force within the group or entity they animate, this in order to have a "map" of specific strengths and weaknesses. The audit is based on the following topics, specified in each mission by an interview guide adapted: Analysis of structures, culture, organization and current management mode; analysis of information systems and relationship between operational and functional entities; analysis of the assimilation of culture, identifying inefficiencies and structural improvements.

Another one is managerial coaching & support. Only one methodical support, spread over time, can lead to measurable progress for clear management: preparation leading to new functions, effective aid to decision making during the first few months, preparing and managing change especially in contexts more multi-cultural, post-merger or necessary evolution of corporate culture, setting in motion a new structure, preparation of new technological or commercial approaches, or more generally improvement of leadership etc ...The support consists of guided interviews and progressive conducted face to face with the leaders concerned over a period ranging from a few weeks to several months (six months for a decision function, up to a year to conduct complex changes). It relies also on players selected to lead project and it controls their action. Experience shows that this dialogue, mastering both managerial and psychological dimensions, allows managers to become increasingly aware of the need to change their own behavior and to "jump the obstacles” on their own. To summarize, managerial support should include four dimensions:

1 It is based on a humble review of relationship. Often alone, leaders must agree to submit to questioning on their own fears or rigidities, if they intend to capture and hold the exemplary role of conductor of the change. Beyond the classic examination of their strengths (talents, skills, communication), they must work together to strengthen their qualities of clear sight, calm, belief, concentration, courage, perseverance, confidence, all qualities essential to the conduct of change over time.

2 The support also ensures that the key actors of change (close associates or field managers) are in place and in the right place. Change is a social process, detecting and making the work of these actors a prerequisite to any project. Conversely, conservative or antagonist "locks" should be identified and treated with appropriate methods of information, training or mobility. Further follow-up of the protagonists may also, and usefully be undertaken at the request of the manager, as well as auditing the functioning of a particular team, although the approach should remain focused on the accompanying the leader himself.

3 Once identified stakeholders and in consultation with them (again with appropriate methods of listening and gathering information), the issue is to launch projects for meaningful change. For example, we can mention the following: "increase the efficiency of commercial activities", "activity guide to its customers", "optimize the time and cost of product development", "manage trades and skills " ... The selection, communication and conduct of these projects should produce significant changes in behavior: opening up of structures, more attentive listening of beneficiaries ( internal or external customers), increased dialogue within project teams. Rich in meaning, projects replace conflict by cooperation, coercion by initiative.

4 Controlling the progress of projects is an essential dimension of this approach. By nature, teams working to achieve them are dispersed in terms of business and location. Project animation is certainly made easier by modern methods of communication. Nevertheless, effects should be measured from beneficiaries of all kinds, so that projects themselves can be inflected as they unfold.

Whatever the approach and methodology used, one must still remember, and this is my conclusion, some key points: Supporting change is to include yourself in the process. Too many managers are urging others to change, without questioning themselves. Change is less an abrupt break with the past, more about to create gradually, by adequate process, a new way of doing things. Patience is the virtue of change, it is preferable to brutality. Rule is as necessary as control. But employees should know how to "play between the notes." Change, it is not to copy but to invent. good practices. It follows that to drive change is necessarily a slow process. Try it. Experiment. Search. Change is about learning. You must accept pitfalls and failures, before reaching a more fluid process. Musicians work thousands of hours to not think about technique. Change faces hazard. We must accept this as a random transition. Anyway, in order to find, you have to move. We have no choice.

Thank you.