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Conditions for Change

One of the interesting things about our new presidential administration is that it is being inundated with behavioral scientists. We heard a lot about the term “change” during the campaign, but now there are folks who specialize in making change happen who are helping guide policy making for everything from economics to nutrition.

This is great news for a number of reasons. Too often in the past policy has been formulated through special interest. I am not naïve enough to believe this will go away, but I am encouraged that individuals who understand the science of change are getting a chance to influence outcomes successfully. Additionally, as a fellow behavioral scientist, I am glad that my profession is getting a little time in the press.

My experience is that when folks hear the term “change management” they think of fluffy stuff like encounter workshops where people can express feelings but not much else gets accomplished. Of course, then there is also the old joke: “How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb? Just one, but the light bulb has to want to change!” Hopefully, those working with the Obama cabinet will provide some positive exposure to this discipline that is a true science.

Psych Institute

What we have learned about this team of specialists so far is that they are making recommendations that involve fundamental change management concepts that apply equally to societal changes as well as organizational changes. Few CRM programs are exempt from these dynamics. So, following along with what is going on in Washington will be educational for managing organizational changes within CRM.

The principal conditions for effective change management include the following:
• Clear Direction – CRM programs will have a better chance of success when it is clear what the program is attempting to achieve and how it supports business strategy.
• Compelling Rationale – When people understand the reasons why change is required and the benefits it will bring, they will have more inclination to go along with the changes.
• Leader Sponsorship – Individuals in leadership roles have a strong positive influence over program success if they visibly and actively support the changes.
• Cultural Conformity – Peer pressure is a real factor when it comes to change and employees are more likely to conform if they believe their co-workers are doing it too.
• Minimum Barriers – The process of change is difficult enough and even less effective when programs create complexities in processes or technology – simple and easy is best.
• Personal Competency – In the end, change comes down to the individual and assuring that they have the capability to perform new tasks is essential to success.

I truly find it interesting that these same conditions for change are being built into policy development in the Beltway focused on the economy, healthcare and energy management. We won’t know how well they are working for some months to come, but you don’t need to wait to build these into your CRM program now.

Comments

Nice article on Change Management. The only problem w/ Change Management is that its often the cure for organizational disease that has not been accepted and that there is a sad state of denial that is being experienced. Relatively speaking, very few organizations trying to focus on sales & marketing improvements, seem to recognize this need steming from impatient sales force or sales leadership, business pressures, blah blah blah. You are right, the light bulb must want to change, but what I can't figure out is why it takes so long for some to figure out that the light went out and there is actually darkness.

It would be interesting to see more arcticles about your experiences and others participating in your blog with respect to how you make folks realize the need for change management sooner rather than later.

Thanks for an interesting post.

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