Building internal change capability within organisations is HARD!

In last week’s blog, we promised to dive into more detail on why building internal change competence is so difficult, and, more to the point, why internal change agents often have such a challenging task.

Building internal change capability is hard because:

  1. Good experiential training is hard to find: In our opinion, there are currently insufficient tertiary level programmes (whether formal or bespoke designed for an organisation) that provide a deep level of theoretical and technical support for internal change agents (by this we mean HR and OD professionals, as well as line managers and leaders who understand how vitally important a deep change competence is to their role function).  A key part of such a programme would be linking change and strategy implementation theory to practice within that client organisation’s specific context.  We can’t stress this enough: The most common concern we hear from internal change practitioners is that they went on an extensive course but on their return to the office were unsure of how to use the tools and skills learnt within their work environment.  [We put this out as a challenge to all tertiary institutions to prove us wrong; if you feel that you do offer such a programme and we are convinced of this, we will certainly sing your praises on this website.  Please let us know who you are in the comments section below.]
  2. Most organisations do not yet recognise change as a strategic imperative and as a result internal change consultants are often not granted access to important information that is vital in order to deliver change at a strategic level.  [Remember, we are not interested in defining change as simply an operational set of tasks that involve training, version control or changing the hearts and minds of individuals.  Change implementation is the full process of designing, structuring and implementing a strategic programme within a business.]
  3. Even where access is granted, influence is often hard to come by.  Most organisations do not have change represented as a discrete skill set at a Board or Exco level, and if we are correct that change is not yet recognised as a strategic skill set and that, often as a result of this, most company executives themselves do not have sufficient awareness and/or training in this regard, the change requirements for the implementation of strategic projects are overlooked.  A seat at the table in order to influence decisions around strategy, its formulation and critically, its implementation, is therefore of vital importance if we wish to turn this situation around.

What is the solution?  We would suggest the following:

  1. As professional change consultants we need to do more to both influence, build and lecture on tertiary level training programmes.  We are committed to this at CCG and have made a strategic decision to step up our efforts in this regard by engaging with local colleagues and universities.
  2. Organisations would do well to appoint professional internal change agents and to build discrete change teams that are comprised of a diverse groupings of influential individuals from across the organisations and representing all levels of the company.
  3. Organisations would do well to appoint change representatives to important strategic forums, even if this presence is on an ad hoc basis in order to influence decision-making.
  4. External change consultants have an important role to play in this regard: Consulting firms provide extensive experience in the field from a range of industries, we can often see organisational dynamics that are hidden or unconscious for employees, and, if we are courageous enough, we are able to speak to these dynamics in a good way in order to build consciousness in this regard and to provide solutions that might resolve these challenges.

This area of practice remains a challenge for all stakeholders.  We would very much like to see improvement in this regard, and believe this is possible if we pool resources and engage with one another in developing more effective practices and approaches.