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Eating an elephant

April 20, 2010

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I don’t know if you find this, but for all the gee-whiz factors of web 2.0/social media in learning today, I find myself constantly coming back to elephant eating.  There’s a saying that change practitioners (and self-help gurus) use…

 “the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time”. 

The change is too large to do all at once, so you’ve got to break it down into smaller pieces.  I’m not an expert, there are zillions of people (ok might be an exaggeration) who study this, but, in the spirit of elephant eating, here are some change resources/approaches that might help you as you tackle whatever aspect of changing behaviour your work does:

Some people focus on the big picture – planning, managing, leading a change:

  • The Heath brothers have written a new book called “Switch”, and their main activities in change are: direct, motivate, shape, with interesting stories to illustrate the points.  I enjoyed Made to Stick, so might pick this one up as well.
  • John Kotter’s Leading Change is a classic and he’s got 8 critical phases of Transformational Change in his model. 
  • Daryl Conner – speaks of change agents and resilience in his books and his blog.
  • Others follow Beckhard’s formula: D x V x F > R,  Three factors must be present for meaningful organizational change to take place. These factors are: D = Dissatisfaction with how things are now; V = Vision of what is possible; F = First, concrete steps that can be taken towards the vision. If the product of these three factors is greater than R = Resistance, then change is possible.
  • There’s Burke’s 12 dimensions, McKinsey’s 7 S’s, and other systems approaches
  • Plan-Do-Check-Act/Deming/Balanced Scorecard approach is also widely used

Some folks are more concerned about the emotional transition around change and subscribe to:

  • the Bridges model – which leads people through the neutral zone into change acceptance.
  • the Lewin model – Unfreeze – Change – Refreeze
  • Kubler-Ross – likens change to the grieving process

There are tons of resources out there for change, here’s just one place that I turn to for clarity.  Change management is probably right up there with leadership development in terms of the sheer volume of “experts”, models, programs and consultants willing to part you with your money.  I do, however, think that including change management – whatever model/philosophy you subscribe to – is an important part of any learning/talent development related initiative. 

What are your favorites?  What or who have I missed?

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