Organizational Change Management Specialists are like Wedding Planners… right?

December 2, 2015


Greetings from the Messy Mind! A bit of silence from the Messy Mind....So many things, so little time. However, this post has been on my mind and I wanted to share before the upcoming holiday.


I recently had a wonderful business introductory meeting with a local organization. As we were taking the time to get to know each other, the conversation, of course, drifted to the question, addressed to me, “So what do you do?”


As I begin to explain our service offerings, I could see the glazed deer in headlights look… you know the one…. it screams… “I really do not have a clue to what you are saying, and I don’t want to ask, so I’m just going to pretend I understand and just nod my head.”  Being a former Communication major along with years of experience working as a Business Analyst, I am all too aware of non-verbal communication.  I asked the question to ease the pain of the stare… “Would you like me to provide you with an example of how we support companies with their change efforts?”


It was as if a light bulb turned on (or burned out) and she immediately said, “Oh I know… I get it.. you are like a wedding planner… you make sure that all the pieces work together so the bride and groom can have an amazing wedding, right?” Blink, Blink, Blink…. Wide eyed blink! My immediate thought was to laugh, however, I knew I needed to maintain my composure and see her statement as a teachable moment; not just for the person in front of me, but as a whole.  WORKSHOP NEEDED NOW, so let’s dive in.


If you open Google and enter the term “organizational change management” (OCM) in the search field (please note the term change management is different within the IT implementation field, however, that would be another conversation altogether), over 11 million search results will be available for your reading pleasure. There are formal definitions, confusing definitions, scholarly articles, OCM program offers at colleges and universities, small, medium and large sized OCM consulting practices, companies offering OCM certifications and more images of OCM processes, maps, and procedures then you can imagine. You will see a sea of names such as Kotter, Lewin, Sater, Blanchard, McGregor, as well as major companies and organizations spearheading this topic, such as Prosci and ACMP. It amazes me on how this subject has been around since the 1980’s (some may even argue as early as the 1960's), yet it continues to remain relatively new and undiscovered for many.


OCM is the process of focusing on the people side of change. However, if we were to go the very heart of what OCM is, it truly is the process by which change is prepared for, managed, maintained and monitored through a transforming environment.


Now when I say a process, please do not get stiff and say here we go with the technical jargon.  Trust me, my preference and desire is to speak plain English. Over the years, I have notice that when knowledge is shared within a specific industry or along a specific vain, the message gets lost in transition due to the use of technical verbiage is used as opposed to good ol’ English terms; broad enough to encompass all types of audiences. Ok… I completely digressed on that one subject (definitely another blog entry). When I refer to a process, I mean the method in which you prepare to implement OCM activities and the process by which OCM is managed, maintained and monitored. It is through a series of assessments, checklists, procedures, plans and roadmaps.


These are tools that can be used to assess where the organization is with regard to the change by asking the first critical question: Are they ready for a change? The tools also track how effective the change efforts are received and how well they are being implemented (checklists and spreadsheets), and mechanisms (surveys, lessons learned) to monitor the change to ensure the transformation will continue to be a success.


Yes, it is crucial for OCM practitioners to ensure that these plans, checklists, assessments, surveys and the like have been completed to determine return on investments and drive metrics, however, OCM practitioners should also utilize these tools to ensure that people understand the efforts being implemented into their organization and more importantly, the reason WHY they are being implemented, in a clear, consise manner.


However, at the end of the “chapter”, people want to know that they have been heard, that they matter and what are the ways they can still make a difference within a transforming environment.


Like my new friend said, “We are like wedding planners”. We do ensure many of the pieces within a transforming effort work well together so the project can be an amazing success.


For my next entry, we will dive deeper into the OCM world to discuss how change differs among individuals, teams and why OCM efforts are a crucial, if not, the main component within enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementations.


Until next time, continue to Embrace Your Messy Mind,





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