Managing change - Canadian Government Executive
Change ManagementKnowledge ManagementLeadershipManagement
July 19, 2017

Managing change

The answer my friends is blowin’ in the wind …

BOB DYLAN (1962): BLOWIN’ IN THE WIND

Managing is about getting things done through and with people. The textbooks tell us that managers carry out four integrated functions: planning, organizing, leading, and controlling. They apply these four functions to managing four business functions: marketing, operations, finance, and people. Managers aim to optimize the performance and results of their organization.

Change is a process through which something becomes or is made different, whether strategy, structure, function, technology, culture, attitude, or capacity. It is situational, contextual, and focused on outcomes. It can be holistic or incremental. Change is an ever-present condition that challenges organizations to manage for best results.

But transitions, not changes, do in managers. Transition is psychological and starts with an ending. It is the process that people follow to internalize, grasp, and communicate the details of the new situation that change embeds. According to William Bridges, managing transitions has three phases:

  1. Letting Go – ending the old ways and allowing people time to grieve their loss;
  2. The Neutral Zone – realigning mindsets and patterns in-between the old and the new; and
  3. The New Beginning – launching a new identity, energy, and purpose.

People resist change. Changes of any sort ultimately succeed when the people affected do things differently. Einstein is quoted as saying, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Implementing change is like solving a problem: (1) identify the need for change; (2) define and diagnose the problem; and (3) formulate and implement a solution.

Public managers model purpose, direction, and stewardship when they manage time, talent, resources, and responsibilities in the public interest. Foresight, innovation, and adaptability are the Holy Trinity of management competencies required in an era of non-stop, unpredictable change. Middle managers are strategic change makers at the forefront of managing change.

Dr. John Kotter’s process for leading change is legendary in the annals of change management. It claims to equip Fortune 500 companies with the means to transform themselves quickly, continuously, and with powerful results. Organizations that do not evolve may not last unless they develop the mindset and skillset necessary to manage change.

Over four decades, Dr. Kotter observed countless leaders and organizations trying to execute transformative strategies. The critical success factors were combined in an eight-step methodology first published in 1996 in Leading Change. Kotter International released the new-improved, impactful Accelerate in 2014.

The world is moving faster and changing at an accelerated pace, while the capacity to keep up is not. The impetus for transformation remains more and better everything, everywhere, right now. Are organizations capable of managing change in today’s globalized, digitized environment? Are trust and relationship issues among leaders and workers obstacles to change?

We wonder whether people are:

  • Disengaged – dispassionate about their roles, colleagues, managers, and customers;
  • Falsely urgent – consumed by constant activity and firefighting;
  • Complacent – lulled into thinking that what got them here will get them there;
  • Lopsided – focused more on management than on leadership; and
  • Siloed – known more for boundaries than for gateways.

Kotter’s enhanced 8-Step Process is designed to serve today’s context and objectives. It embraces four differences from older models:

  1. Runs the steps concurrently and continuously instead of responding to episodic change in finite and sequential ways;
  2. Forms a large volunteer corps from up, down, and across the organization instead of driving change with a small, powerful core group;
  3. Functions in a flexible, agile network instead of working only within the traditional hierarchy; and
  4. Capitalizes quickly and constantly on opportunities and initiatives instead of doing one thing at a time in a linear fashion.

To balance reliability and responsiveness, the traditional hierarchy and the innovation network must share clear communication and synchronicity. Knowing how to change and transform is critical.

This article begins a new series on change management. The series features a public sector spin on Kotter’s change model for middle managers.

 

John Wilkins is Executive in Residence: Public Management at York University. He was a career public servant and diplomat. (jwilkins@schulich.yorku.ca)

About this author

John Wilkins

John Wilkins is Executive in Residence: Public Management at York University. He was a career public servant and diplomat. (jwilkins@schulich.yorku.ca)

0 comments

There are no comments for this post yet.

Be the first to comment. Click here.

Change Management
 
We all ask why governments fail, often spectacularly, to carry out their policy goals through bad implementation. When something goes wrong, we watch the arch of public attention rise, demands for accountability, and then governments move in to fix the problem. Then, we move on. We seldom go back and do a post-mortem on failure....
 
Citizens are embracing technology as it rapidly changes. The experience that they are receiving from this adoption has created an expectation that they are looking for their government to meet. This demand from citizens is pushing governments to create personalized experiences for services similar to what citizens are getting through traditional means like shopping online....
 
Federal efforts to increase the use of data to inform and improve services may soon cross paths with parallel efforts at the municipal level. Smart City strategies have been gaining momentum worldwide. A Smart City uses information and communication technology to manage a city’s assets, such as public transportation or power systems. Using sensors and...
 
Emerging technologies are getting faster and smarter. Cognitive capabilities, robotics and artificial intelligence are all blending and multiplying their existence with each passing day. While it is critical to embrace technology, it’s also imperative to strike a balance between the past and the future. The rapid innovation in business transformation begs the following fundamental questions:...
 
Canadian Government Executive is honoured to have Michael Wernick, Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet as Keynote Speaker for TechGov Forum 2018 . This two-day conference which will be held in Ottawa on January 29 and 30 will provide a platform to discover challenges, opportunities, technology advancements and innovations for the government and public...
 
On a recent visit to Ottawa, I had the opportunity to sit down with some of Canada’s top public service executives to find out what’s on their mind and to discuss CGE. These meetings reinforced what I’ve been hearing from executives and managers at all levels across the country. Namely, with the rapid onset of...
 
Does your organization have a very narrow view of what digital means in today’s economy? If so, then your agency may be losing out on the opportunity to unlock the true value of its digital assets. Overall, Canadians are upbeat about the principles of digital strategy. As many as seven out of 10 executives in...
 
With businesses and government agencies increasingly operating in a highly information-based economy and technologically-linked society, knowing the implications of various social network connections that link individuals and organization will become essential, according to John Burrett. Burrett is president and principal consultant at Haiku Analytics. He is an expert in using data graphics, social network analysis,...
 
Canadian Government Executive media through its upcoming TechGov event is providing the platform to help improve service delivery to the public. This event is designed to showcase the technological advancements being made in our rapidly changing world that our government can adopt to better serve Canadians. Join us for TechGov forum on November 7 & 8 at...
 
The answer my friends is blowin’ in the wind … BOB DYLAN (1962): BLOWIN’ IN THE WIND Managing is about getting things done through and with people. The textbooks tell us that managers carry out four integrated functions: planning, organizing, leading, and controlling. They apply these four functions to managing four business functions: marketing, operations,...
 
There’s no shortage of organizations claiming to have a digital transformation strategy. However, a recent study commissioned by telecommunication company CenturyLink indicates that nearly half of global enterprise companies are faced with multiple obstacles which hamper their digital transformation journey. CenturyLink commissioned research firm 451 Research in to gather information for the global study of enterprise digital transformation...
 
Laskey Hart guest hosts CGE Radio this week with a summary of some of the top articles in the December Issue of Canadian Government Executive Magazine, as well as a review of an article by Nestor Arellano on the struggles, challenges, and solutions to leading 5 generations in the workforce, including a study from Staples....
 
Rules and accountability are helpful in developing and standardizing processes but there are instances when they can be a hindrance to innovation. Finding the right balance between accountability and innovation is essential in the public sector, according to Tony Dean , professor at the School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Toronto , and adviser in public administration and public reforms to various governments in...
 
Canada’s top soldier said the Armed Forces continue to be locked in a fight against sexual misconduct within its ranks. And while 30 Canadian Forces members have been punished and 97 other cases of inappropriate behaviour are still ongoing, Defence chief Gen. Jonathan Vance warned the public to “expect results to be sobering when we...
 
It’s a common notion that young workers born in the mid-1990s to the early 200s are going to be stuck with the healthcare cost racked up by the aging post-World War II demographic. But it’s probably useless trying to figure out how the millennials will be paying for the healthcare of baby boomers. That’s because...
 
In order to find out which strategies and priorities CFOs are using for success, Accountemps polled 270 CFOS from a random sample of Canadian companies. They asked: “Which one of the following characteristics do you consider most necessary for an employee to succeed?” 31 per cent of CFOs said: “Adapts easily to change”. 29 per...
 
A small but rapidly growing number of businesses have started hiring a CDO or chief digital officer. The main responsibility of this recent addition to the C-suite is to reshape an organization to enable it to thrive in the digital age. Related posts: Deep impact: Digital technology's challenge to governance Canadian Governments Moving on Three Initiatives The Results Are In: Your Thoughts on Blueprint 2020...
 
As populations grow and age, the demand for services increases. As this demand increases, customer expectations rise. And when customer expectations rise, governments struggle to meet them. Providing convenience, quality, transparency, promptness and personalization is no easy task. An IBV study recently discovered that 63 per cent of government organizations do not have an integrated...
 
Computer software company Adobe, has migrated more than 11 million pages of government documents to a new online service platform that consolidates 1,500 Canadian government Web sites from 91 institutions into a single Web site. Related posts: The right stuff: Talent management Talent Management: Steps to a strategic roadmap Why government needs the future of two-factor authentication...
 
Here’s some bad news for organizations contemplating projects that have something to do with the Internet of Things. Research firm Gartner, predicts that by 2020 more than half of major new business process and systems will incorporate some element of IoT. However, despite the growing prevalence of connected systems in the private and public sectors, Gartner...
 
The facility of a top-secret military communications group in Borden, Ontario will be relocated to make way for a $400 million datacentre project by Shared Services Canada . Plans by the SSC to build a datacentre at the Canada Force Base in Borden, hit a snag, according to recent media reports, due to miscommunication regarding security requirements around...
 
As the adoption rate of big data technologies among Canadian companies continue to rise there is a growing indication that organizations are shifting towards alternatives to Hadoop, according to analyst firm IDC . Big data adoption in Canada is expected to nearly double through 2016 however, the open-source software framework designed for distributed storage and processing...
 
By Craig Killough In March of this year, the Prime Minister’s Advisory Committee on the Public Service, co-chaired in 2015 by former Senator, the Honourable Hugh Segal, and Rick Waugh, former CEO of Scotiabank, released its Ninth Annual Report to the Prime Minister of Canada. The Advisory Committee was established in 2006 to give advice to...
 
Written by  Roxanne Descôteaux When I first became a manager over 20 years ago, I was not as familiar with different leadership styles, but I knew what type of manager I did not want to be: I did not want to be critical, rude, disrespectful, insensitive … I’m sure you’re all familiar with the type...
 
Every four years, on average, Canadians elect a government from among a number of competing political parties by choosing the party that best represents their needs and aspirations. Exercising their vote at election time, at the municipal, provincial and federal levels, is the cornerstone of Canada’s democratic process. Related posts: Leading in unstable times Election 2015: Will Millennials find their voice? A season to fear...
 
It’s no secret that LEAN has demonstrated great success in the private sector for many years. Within the last decade, LEAN has also proven to be effective in healthcare, education, finance, and now government. Related posts: Planning your organizations journey? Look ahead What can Canadian executives learn from the sequester? Going forward: CFOs share their strategies for advancement...
 
There have been a great number of change initiatives in the federal public service in recent years, whether characterized as transformative change, reform, renewal, or reorganization, and new initiatives, such as Blueprint 2020, continue to be put forward. Related posts: Behavioural science and Blueprint 2020 A nudge in the right direction GovScience 4.0: The rise of "social" science...
 
If you ask any municipal Chief Administrative Office (CAO) across Canada what period of time they least look forward to, they would in an instant reply, “Immediately following the next election.” Related posts: The leader's checklist Great transitions: New Brunswick's approach to change in government Distinct leaders: The municipal chief administrative officer...
 
Change is difficult. The psychology of loss aversion means we are hard-wired to preserve the status quo. Paradoxically, we also desire to improve. But it is impossible to be better without also being different. Related posts: Constant change is the new normal The challenge for Blueprint 2020 Leading a culture of change...
 
After serving in the public service for 24 years, Norman shares his principles, practices and lessons from the field on how to get innovative things done in government and illustrates what intrapreneurial thinking looks like in the public service....
 
The federal government, through Shared Services Canada, is focusing on integrating IT systems to create an enterprise-wide approach. The goal is to create efficiencies in everything from the use of mobile devices and servers to email addresses. Related posts: Top-secret military communication centre to be relocated for $400M datacentre project DND also affected by faulty Shared Services Canada IT operations Human and social services affect us all, an interview with Martin Joyce of KPMG...
 
The Centre for Creative Leadership has published a paper called Public Sector Leadership Challenges: Are they different and do they matter? The paper was the result of written answers from 1,500 U.S. federal government and 500 private sector leaders who attended their programs. Related posts: Are you leading or making excuses? Leader as thinker: The power of insight Are we developing the managers of the future?...
 
“Finding efficiencies” might be an overused cliché, but allied defence forces from Australia to the United States have undertaken significant efforts in recent years to better understand business performance and manage costs....
 
Are you overwhelmed by your to-do list? Does so much of what you deemed a “priority” never seem to get done? You need to FOCUS on the right priorities amid the chaos....
 
The idea of a merger of DFAIT and CIDA is not a new one. In the early 1990s, Prime Minister Mulroney asked Robert de Cotret to conduct a thorough review of the organization of his government in order to modernize its operations....
 
If your internal planning and reporting systems seem “archaic,” how do you compete in a fast-paced, digital world?...
 
Strange as it may seem, a majority of us would opt to die rather than experience extreme change. So noted Ron McKerlie, the Associate Secretary to the Cabinet of the government of Ontario and the former interim president and CEO of Ornge, who led a radical cultural transformation of an organization poisoned by years of...
 
What characterizes successful change management? Six leaders and leadership teams will be recognized tomorrow, April 4, during an awards ceremony at the CGE Leadership Summit....
 
The British Columbia Public Service is vying for talent in an increasingly competitive market, so retaining our high-performing and valued employees is all the more critical for our long-term succession planning and recruitment success....
 
In times of change, middle managers make the difference. Sandwiched between the executive cadre and the staff, middle managers are responsible for ensuring that public sector organizations continue to function well in times of transformation....
 
Once again, Policy Horizons Canada has prepared exclusively for CGE a list of “wicked issues” for public servants to think about in the coming year....
 
Like an athletic coach, an independent project reviewer understands what it takes to be successful and provides guidance based on experience and independent observation....
 
In October, Wayne Wouters, Clerk of the Privy Council, received CAPAM’s Gordon Draper Award for “contributing selflessly to the advancement of public administration…”...
 
As young public servants, members of the national Federal Youth Network (FYN) play an important role in shaping the future of the public service....
 
Canada’s North is at the forefront of unprecedented change and the focus of increasing global attention. Managing a government office here provides an exceptional range of opportunities and challenges....
 
Public sector reform can be like falling down a rabbit hole — things just get “curiouser and curiouser.”...
 
Transforming Government for the Future...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.6 June 2007 Learning and development are best achieved if they are based on real life. Living Leadership: The Execut...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.5 May 2007 Peter Harder retired recently. He served as Deputy Minister at Foreign Affairs, Industry Canada, Trea...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.5 May 2007 Karen Ellis est vice-présidente de la Direction générale du renouvellement de la fon...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.3 March 2007 Many leaders view change as an enemy. General Rick Hillier, Chief of the Defence Staff, sees t...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.2 February 2007 The 2005 centennial celebration of the Alberta Public Service was also a time to begin the review a...
 
CGE Vol. 14 No.5 May 2008 Crown relations with First Nations in British Columbia have a long history of on-the-ground conflict and div...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.4 April 2007 How will Canada keep on top in the global economy? Bill Gates provided his advice, along with an impres...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.2 February 2007 So you think you’ve got it tough wrestling with your particular Big Issue – native land claims,...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.3 March 2007 Consider the following recent history: Ontario Premier-designate Dal...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.4 April 2007 “On any journey, it is important to pause and take stock. How far have we come? Are we still on track? What lies ah...
 
« Toutes choses étant, par une puissance immortelle, de près ou de loin liées entre elles.  On ne peut cueillir un asphodèle sans déranger une &eacut...
 
Half a millennium since first contact between Aboriginal peoples and European explorers, 141 years since the British North America Act, and a quarter century since repatriation of the Constitution, the relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal pe...
 
In terms of performance measurement, incentives for success and penalties for failure, public sector organizations operate in a paradigm detached from the rest of the business community. ...
 
Changer la culture des employés un outil à la fois Le site Wiki de Ressources naturelles Canada a déclenché une réaction culturelle à RNCan en permettant aux...
 
"All things by immortal power, Near and Far, Hiddenly To each other linked are, That thou canst not stir a flower Without troubling of a star."...
 
The Internet is a key channel for public service delivery. Recent studies by EKOS and the Institute for Citizen-Centred Services show that the Internet has dramatically changed the way Ontarians interact with the government. "We are better serving On...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.10 December 2007 When new policy collides with entrenched practice, resistance is often inevitable. A skilled champ...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.9 November 2007 Youth…still wasted on the young. It’s the buzz in coffee rooms and boardrooms. Many consu...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.8 October 2007 When Pat Collins left Ottawa in September of 2005, it was the start of what he hoped would be the tri...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.7 September 2007 By: Guy D’Aloisio, Mchel Laurendeau, V. Neimanis, Michael Obrecht, Nancy Porteous, Paul Prieur a...
 
Quote of the week “We manage our books really well and we try to generate some surplus; we don’t call it profit. It’s not about generating income to increase salaries and get sports cars; it’s about putting it back.” ...
 
Quote of the week “What was clear when you visited some of the places [was] that there were areas where the main players had never been together in a room.” — Lord Bichard...
 
Quote of the week “(P)ublic service should be a career of choice for the most talented Americans.” — Presidential Memorandum Editor’s Corner...
 
Quote of the week “Government can’t simply step into the void to provide support.” — Wayne Wouters, Clerk of the Privy Council Editor’s Corner...
 
Quote of the week “…civil servants may be intractable points of resistance.” — World Economic Forum Editor’s Corner A World Economic Forum report loo...
 
Quote of the week “…thinking government is necessarily the solution to a problem is outmoded thinking these days…” — President of the Treasury Board, Tony Clement Editor’s Corner...
 
Quote of the week “If there is gravy at city hall, it’s the stuff being paid to consultants to come up with this kind of stuff.” — Toronto Councillor Adam Vaughan...
 
Quote of the week “The IPAC DM/CAO survey…provides insight into your concerns as a leader.” — IPAC Editor’s Corner IPAC will be...
 
Le problème actuel n’est pas seulement le départ à la retraite prochain des dirigeants : ce sont en fait tous ceux et celles qui se trouvent aux quatre échelons supérieurs de la hiérarchie, de directeur &agrav...
 
It’s not just that executives are about to retire – it’s that the top four layers, from deputy minister through director, are retiring en masse at the same time. So the normal ascension from director to DG to ADM to DM...
 
Au cours des derniers mois, de nombreux fonctionnaires fédéraux ont dépoussiéré leurs vieux textes de politique publique afin de trouver des réponses à certaines des questions les plus complexes auxquelles...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.9 November 2007 Most observers will be acutely aware of the pending increased demand for young professionals in the...
 
Don’t trust anyone over thirty, Jerry Rubin pronounced in 1967. Jerry, head of the Youth International Party, the Yippies, appealed to the Baby Boom generation then beginning to enter the workforce, to reject the norms of their predecessors and make a...
 
A strange paradox has emerged in the quest for Gov 2.0....
 
CGE Vol.13 No.7 September 2007 Julius Caesar left us with one of the most famous Latin phrases – Veni, Vidi, Vici – when he...
 
While the focus in recent years has been on Web 2.0 in government, the public sector’s digital evolution suggests that we are now witnessing the third and by far the most significant wave of reform....
 
How can an organization work seven times faster when it knows it can’t work seven times harder?...
 
The 2011 federal election has focused on policy and leadership. But any government needs to think not just about what it will do, but how it will do it....
 
Unless you have been working in a silo, it is obvious to see that the policy environment is rapidly changing....
 
CGE Vol.13 No.8 October 2007 The biggest challenge facing government executives is not diagnosing the need for change, but rather...
 
Wondering why it sometimes seems so blankety-blank hard to get anything done these days? Everybody will have their own take on it, to be sure, but for a lot of folks calling shots in the public sector, it’s often about: theory, practice, and the gap...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.9 November 2007 Not long ago, an energetic web technology site called Read/WriteWeb listed 10 emerging trends that i...
 
À titre d’employée de la fonction publique de l’Ontario (FPO), j’ai accueilli l’initiative de transformation actuelle avec beaucoup d’enthousiasme, mais aussi avec certaines réserves. J’en suis venue à r...
 
As an employee of the Ontario Public Service, I’ve been looking at the current transformation initiative with much excitement and some reservation....
 
À l’instar de nombreux autres employeurs, la fonction publique de l’Ontario (FPO) compte en ses rangs beaucoup de baby boomers qui prendront leur retraite au cours des prochaines années. Cela donnera le coup d’envoi d’une vas...
 
Like many employers, the Ontario Public Service (OPS) has a sizeable number of baby boomers retiring over the next few years. This will ignite a war for talent to attract the next generation of employees. Offering meaningful work and opportunities for gro...
 
Some title Some author
Some excerpt
 
Some title Some author
Some excerpt
We all ask why governments fail, often spectacularly, to carry out their policy goals through bad implementation. When something goes wrong, we watch the arch of public attention rise, demands for accountability, and then governments move in to fix the problem. Then, we move on. We seldom go back and do a post-mortem on failure....