Change is the law of life. But should we be disrupting OCM?

Today organisations are transforming something within their business and IT shops and it’s generally along the lines of a SIAM implementation, digital or an ERP, or cloud service, etc. Everyone is doing something different today to be competitive in the future or to continue to exist today. As we are adding new services; digital, service integration, operating models and the like, we seem to keep missing the mark with OCM, Organisation Change Management. We still wonder why:

  • Projects fail,
  • Why there is cost over-run,
  • Why the delivery date keeps moving out,
  • Why we de-scope to hit the date,
  • The organisation isn’t agile enough.


If you’re doing things the same way, then you will most likely continue to fail. If you are implementing the same way, with failed results, then you need to have a good hard look at what the organisation is doing wrong. OCM is typically the first thing that is becomes excluded from the program. OCM can be many different services from;

  1. Stakeholder Engagement and Management
  2. Communication Strategy, Plan and execution
  3. Training Needs Analysis and delivery

But even your OCM may be a little stale as well? In 2020 the most important skill will be “Interpersonal Skills” such as emotional intelligence, Sense intelligence, Emotional Energy as people do matter. For me more and more OCM should include fundamental principles for consideration:

  1. Culture: does it need to change? Have you tapped into the existing culture and the internal energy of the organisation? What is the current vibe?
  2. Look at the leaders: what does the C-suite look like, what about the leadership group? If the leaders are not entirely engaged, endorse or are involved, then there will be issues. Alignment at the top is required. Otherwise, there will be sabotage and a left wing movement. Does everyone agree for the case for change? Is there a Coherent vision.
  3. Team effort across the board; the more leaders, and the organisation levels themselves work in teams on the effort for the program the move they get to understand and develop rapport. If they stay in the silos, in their respective towers then things will not change. Every layer within the org: from Strategic, Tactical and Operational must be engaged and needs to be involved.
  4. The emotional case for change: the leadership group should do something significant to show and support the change visually. Walk the line, walk the talk. Critical change behaviors need to be visible regularly. What are the expected actions? The leadership team should model these behaviors. As human beings, we responded better to things that tug at the head and the heart!
  5. Act quickly: make decisions quickly, responded quicker, work at the cold front, be there, be seen there and engage.
  6. Engagement: identity, engage and manage regularly. Talk to everyone via town halls, meetings and focus groups, etc. Talk across the functions together. Both formal and informal leaders need to be seen, heard and understood. Your informal leaders are your change champions, your agents, and ambassadors. These leaders are everywhere; supervisors, your receptionist or even admin staff. Understand who they are and utilise them.
  7. Risk and reward: rewarding good behavior is essential as well, it doesn’t have to be a monetary reward. It could be recognition, but money can work, but do remember that not everyone wants cash. Think about what matters to them, i.e., ask them! It might be additional leave, volunteering at a charity a few days a year, additional annual leave, get creative!
  8. 8. Measure Pre and post change; remember if you can’t measure it, you can’t monitor it.
  9. Training – any changes require training or not. It depends on what the change is. Most organisations are doing away with traditional training models of OCM of the past. It all depends on what you are doing/changing.
  10. Celebrate your achievements….

A lot of OCM programs I have seen have some elements of the above but not all or more than 2 or 3 items listed above. Is it time to shake OCM up or disrupt?

Some other attributes that are also key;

  • Be Transparent – Transparency is required internally and externally with stakeholders/customers
  • Empowerment of people – give them the power to help the change, monitor it and manage it if it starts to go left.
  • Communication – Communicate the issues, the bad stuff and more importantly how you are intending on fixing it. Or seek ideas on how to fix via focus groups.
  • Be flexible; remember to adapt and adopt your way regularly.

There is a lot to think about, but if you don’t do this properly, you most likely will have a failed project or a partially successful one that will fizzle eventually anyway. Let’s do this right the first time! Sustain the change, that is, remember your OCM activities continue long past your go live!