Current Awareness Strategy Blog

BIALL 2024: Change management and thriving through change

change (1)-1-2

Turn and face the strange
David Bowie

Change is the only constant in life, a notion famously echoed by many thought leaders and philosophers. In today's rapidly evolving world, the ability to adapt and thrive through change is more crucial than ever. Change also requires an element of revolution, which is why the theme of the 2024 BIALL conference referenced the industrial and knowledge revolutions!

Start as you mean to go on and shake it up immediately! Rather than a lecture, Hélène Russell's opening plenary session was an opportunity for attendees to participate. Given that we are all affected by change, Helene’s approach is to get people to talk through and share their personal and professional experiences. After all, we can all learn from each other - scroll down to read our findings!

Show me you know, really!

Some change management models to get us started

What change management model(s) have you experienced? Helen went through 3 examples which are currently popular in driving and establishing organisational change.

Kurt Lewin: Are you frozen?

The Lewin change management model, created by physicist and social psychologist Kurt Lewin in the 1940s, is a widely adopted framework for organisational change. Inspired by his background in physics, Lewin used the metaphor of an ice block to illustrate social change.

According to the model, an ice block cannot be reshaped without breaking it. To transform its shape, the ice must first be melted (unfreeze), then poured into a new mould (change), and finally refrozen in the new shape (refreeze).

By viewing change as a three-stage process, organisations can better prepare for a new status quo, reduce complexities, and manage the transition effectively. This model helps organisations adjust to change and achieve stability, minimising chaos and discomfort for employees and stakeholders.

John Kotter: A volunteer army? 

John Kotter introduced his eight-step change management model in 1995. This model was first detailed in his book "Leading Change," which has since become a key work in organisational change management. His work emphasises the importance of urgency, vision, and the involvement of employees in the change process. The eight steps are:

  • Create a sense of urgency: Highlight the immediate need for change and its importance to motivate action.
  • Build a guiding coalition: Form a strong, influential group to lead and support the change effort.
  • Form a strategic vision: Develop a clear vision and actionable strategy to guide the change process.
  • Enlist a volunteer army: Communicate the vision and strategy effectively to gain widespread buy-in and support.
  • Enable action by removing barriers: Identify and eliminate obstacles to empower employees to contribute to the change.
  • Generate short-term wins: Achieve and celebrate small, visible successes to build momentum and validate the effort.
  • Sustain acceleration: Leverage early successes to drive further, ongoing change initiatives.
  • Institute change: Embed the changes into the organisational culture to ensure they are sustained over the long term.

Chip & Dan Heath: An elephant in the room?

Their "Switch" change management model is presented in their book "Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard"(2010). It provides a framework for making successful changes in behaviour by focusing on three key elements: the Rider, the Elephant, and the Path.

Direct the Rider: The Rider represents the rational side of our brain.

  • Find the bright spots: Identify and replicate what’s already working well.
  • Script the critical moves: Provide clear, specific directions to avoid decision paralysis.
  • Point to the destination: Create a clear and compelling goal to focus efforts.

Motivate the Elephant: The Elephant symbolises the emotional side of our brain.

  • Find the feeling: Tap into emotions to create motivation and commitment.
  • Shrink the change: Break the change down into small, manageable steps to make it less daunting.
  • Grow your people: Instill a growth mindset and build confidence to tackle challenges.

Shape the Path: The Path represents the environment and external factors that influence behaviour.

  • Tweak the environment: Make changes to the surroundings to support the desired behaviour.
  • Build habits: Establish routines and habits to sustain change.
  • Rally the herd: Leverage social influence by showing that others are already embracing the change.

By addressing these three elements - directing the Rider, motivating the Elephant, and shaping the Path - the "Switch" model helps individuals and organizations navigate change more effectively, balancing rational planning with emotional engagement and environmental adjustments.

These are not the only change models available. A further conversation within my own organisation revealed an additional model incorporating the values, strategy, structure, and skills an organisation requires - if you are interested, read more about the 7-S Framework. If change is needed, then is everything else in place to support it?

Is your firm taking the lead on tech?

Questions to provoke a conversation about change in our experience

With these models in mind, we were asked to discuss a choice of two groups of questions:

  • Have you used any of these frameworks?
  • Top tips on managing change
  • Have you experienced change where any of these frameworks were used?
  • Have you experienced change where leaders made it a positive and easier process?

What were our key takeaways? 

It was interesting that many people reported that if a “framework for change” was being used by leaders in their organisations, they didn’t know and weren't aware of it. However, the most common word that kept coming up was communication. Everyone agreed that communication can impact people’s attitude to change.

After two great discussions, we came away with the following points.  

  • Anticipation of change is sometimes worse than the change itself.
  • It always comes down to communication. It’s “easier” and more positive when the language used is honest, clear and inclusive. 
  • What is the reason for the change? Personnel changes, budgetary changes, change in space/location? Each one has its own challenge and can impact people in different ways. Again, organisations should be communicative to ease any uncertainty.
  • Are the proposed changes fair? Has everyone been consulted? One person noted that sometimes the loudest voices are heard but their response might not be the most important. 
  • Social connections, including informal groups, help you to be adaptable and more open to change. This is why members of BIALL, CLIG, AALL and other organisations can offer invaluable networking, insight and support for those people facing changes.



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