Making change stick

michael-and-williamThe challenges facing the housing sector right now call for courageous leadership and difficult choices. However, making the decision that change is needed and even identifying what the change should be is the easy part. Making that change stick is the hard part.

This is because people typically become defensive when they feel they have little control over the choices that are being made. This can lead to defensive behaviour which slows reorganisation activities and delays the realisation of much needed improvements in cost and quality.

Much of the change in the sector at the moment is based around the digitalisation of processes, with the aim of delivering services in the way customers want to receive them whilst also achieving efficiencies.  Redesigning the way services and processes operate is a core part of these activities, but how can you ensure that the identified changes ‘stick’?

Three of the most well known approaches to service and process improvement are Business Process Re-engineering (BPR), Lean (or Lean Six Sigma) and most recently Lean Systems Thinking.

These approaches have enjoyed some successes but most changes unravel over time and the desired outcomes and benefits either do not emerge at all or if they do then only for a short time before old ways set back in. Fundamentally the fear of change makes this happen and resulting human behaviours ensure the change that could happen is blocked in whole or part and not sustained over time.

Building energy for change by actively involving your people in co-designing the results they want, can overcome the fear factor. They will ‘live’ the change that’s needed. Our conviction is that the new ideas you need are already in your workplace. This approach gives people time to think and enables them to behave differently, to innovate, co-create and test something that did not and could not exist previously because the context was different. This is done through group workshops utilising tools and techniques which enable everyone to collaborate in identifying problems, finding their real causes and in developing plans for coping with them realistically and practically.

Speed is of the essence. Staff, not surprisingly, will be fearful of the uncertainty of a change that is coming, so the sooner they can get involved, see the changes taking shape and be part of it, the better it is for them and the organisation. The dialogues which occur with this method do not only plan the change, they are the change!

The implementation of the change also isn’t a one-time activity. Constantly going back to your people to discuss how successful identified changes have been and developing further improvements is also essential. And don’t be afraid to admit if a change isn’t working. If it’s not sticking, find out why and see if something can be changed to help.

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