Final Thoughts

Lifelong Learning

While the book is nearing the end, there is still a great deal of knowledge to obtain and process through practice and reflection for a novice change manager to become experienced. One of the most important lessons to learn from this book is that learning is not a "once and done" activity, but rather a lifelong journey. Please remember, as a change manager/project manager, you are trying to convince the organizational leadership to trust your abilities and knowledge concerning a project. Many experienced business unit leaders limit their learning opportunities because of the required effort and focus on learning new things - they rest on their laurels and begin to stagnate. Do not allow stagnation to creep into a promising career. Embrace the concept of lifelong learning and help to maintain a culture of change that is essential for an organization - lead by example. Organizations and people change on a routine basis, and that means the risk-oriented professional must continue to change and understand the reasons for a change.

The book has covered a considerable amount of material that will likely take time to process and place into the proper perspective of the respective organizations of the readership. That is expected and should provide opportunities to learn more about the concepts contained in this book. Organizations are complex systems and have multiple layers of meaning and nuance - things are not black and white, but various shades of gray. While this book contains a great deal of advice, please accept some additional advice on how to begin to use the material you have covered in this book.

Advice to Start a Change Initiative

Here are some suggestions to help you jump-start your new identity as a change manager.

  • • Begin slow and sure - apply the concepts learned in this book on small projects that are relatively uncomplicated.
  • • Apply Kotter's model (Kotter, 1996, 2012) as a framework and remember to continuously review and improve what is done as part of the project.
  • • Ensure that all communications are clear, honest, concise, but informative, and sincere; the audience will know the difference.
  • • Maintain communications throughout the project and work to keep people involved, even if they are not performing a function. Maintain the interest of those involved and help them to embrace the change initiative.
  • • Consider the significance of the cyclical and iterative nature of the PDCA (i.e., Plan-Do-Check-Act) approach referenced earlier in the text. Apply this approach to each of the eight steps of the Kotter model (Kotter, 1996, 2012). It is acceptable to go back and fix something that is not working right. Starting fresh might be necessary for that stage.
  • • Maintain the reporting and advisory connection with senior leadership. The senior leaders of an organization have a responsibility to both the organization and you as a developing employee. Allow them to help promote and maintain the change initiative.
  • • Learn from the simple project so that everyone is better prepared for the more complex projects. Learning should be fun, even when you get it wrong.
  • • Acknowledge mistakes and work to resolve any problems as a professional - do not try to hide a mistake. People often learn more from a mistake than from "getting it right." A mistake remains in a person's memory and helps them avoid making the same mistake. Reflecting on the mistake allows a person to apply the lesson to multiple situations and avoid making a mistake in numerous situations.
  • • Embrace the journey of lifelong learning. Consider how many things there are to learn and the opportunities that are presented following each session of learning. Have fun!

The Remainder of the Book

The remainder of the book consists of appendices and references. The appendices contain valuable information to help each reader develop critical change management skills and perspectives. While there is a checklist for guiding the process of the change initiative, it is crucial to remember that change is a process. It is not a checklist activity. Without involving numerous people and embracing the concept of honest give-and-take and sharing ideas to develop a robust change initiative, the project will likely fail. Please remember an important point that was made earlier in the book - the change manager or project leader is not the most important person; the people in the organization are the most critical to a project. Make sure to involve them and build trust so that they will embrace the project.

References

Kotter, J. P. (1996). Successful change and the force that drives it. The Canadian Manager, 21(3), 20-24.

Kotter, J. P. (2012). Leading change. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.

 
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