Ten Essentials for Managing Change

Last Updated Mar 10, 2010 11:58 PM EST

Some of the Likeminds Summit participants
One of the interesting things happening after the Likeminds conference last month in Exeter was the Likeminds Summit which actually took place on the following day at Bovey Castle in Dartmoor.

There were, of course, a bunch of like-minded people around the table. One of the recurring questions surrounding the implementation of social media was change management; often touched on but rarely explained properly.

Here is a list of 10 ingredients I think are of the utmost importance when you want to set up change in your company. This list is based on my experience of implementing change at various companies throughout the world in the past 20 years:

  1. The serenity prayer: the first ingredient is to always know what you can change and what you cannot change, and to ensure that you always will be able to tell the difference.
  2. Think big, start small: obviously if you are trying to implement change, it's because you have great ideas. But try and be reasonable and start small and then move on to bigger changes one step at a time.
  3. Choose the path of least resistance: avoid people resisting change at all cost and try not to waste time convincing them. Focus on people who are more favourable to your project and work with them all the way up (they are your change agents).
  4. Ask your boss to set an example: when you want to change things, management has to show the way and to prove others that things can be done not only by ordering them around but by actually doing things by themselves.
  5. Don't think top down: don't assume top management's email to all will bring about change. That's not how it works.
  6. Seek a mandate once (some) results have been proven. Or, if you already have a mandate, don't show it until we have implemented a few results either. This will show people that you care about their opinion,
  7. Respect people: the human factor is one of the most important in change management. Don't underestimate people and try and convince them humanly.
  8. Expect the best, but prepare for the worst: as always in project management, Murphy's Law applies. Be prepared for the worst so that you can avoid it.
  9. Act swiftly: change is best implemented within a three to six month period. If nothing has happened before then, chances are that nothing ever will.
  10. In times of trouble, don't stop, but speed up the change process. Times of chaos can be perceived as periods of danger by most people. Yet, most change managers will recognise this as the time when anything is possible. It's mostly when things are uncertain that change is implemented and accepted, not the contrary.
Last, adhering to these 10 simple rules might not guarantee success but overlooking them will certainly mean failure.
  • Yann Gourvennec

    Yann Gourvennec is head of internet and digital media at Orange Business Services. He is in charge of the international operator's websites and blogs. and has been in marketing and innovation for over 20 years.