Organizational Change Management: The secret sauce for successful cultural change

Change can be a disrupting factor for employees without a management plan.
By: | November 22, 2019
Lenny Schad, one of the most prominent voices in K-12 technology leadership, is District Administration’s chief information and innovation officer and technology editor-at-large.

Lenny Schad, one of the most prominent voices in K-12 technology leadership, is District Administration’s chief information and innovation officer and technology editor-at-large.

In previous articles, I have said that it doesn’t matter what industry or business sector you work in. The landscape for every organization including K12 is changing and changing quickly. The rate of change for consumer digital technology and automation is resulting in organizations embarking on digital transformation strategies at the speed of light.

Transformation is a disruptive journey to take on for any organization. For the transformation to be successful and sustainable, organizational change will be a critical element to the overall project. Unfortunately, most organizations do not have an appreciation for how emotional and personal organizational change can be for the employees affected. Most organizations simply believe that having a training plan is enough to prepare their employees.

Secret sauce

Here is the secret sauce: Organizational Change Management (OCM) is a framework designed to provide the emotional support employees need through the change phases. While training plans are critical, they do not address the emotional side of change. To understand OCM it is important to know the differences between “Change” and “Change Management.” Change is a movement from one’s current state into a transition state that leads to a future state. Change management takes that process one step further and supports the individuals impacted through these phases of change.

It is important to understand that defining the solution is not part of the OCM methodology. Designing, developing and implementing the solution are elements of a project management methodology. Recognizing the need for change and providing necessary emotional supports are elements of an OCM methodology. Both methodologies are required for any project to be successful but are mutually exclusive and parallel.

Without a proven OCM methodology it is very difficult to manage the people side of change. Leaders often think that communication and training plans are enough to successfully implement a major initiative. What leaders do not understand is that most communication plans are essentially “Telling Plans.” These plans do not address what employees really need to know, and that is: How is this change going to affect me? Training plans do not provide the necessary foundation for “WHY” the change is happening and “WHY” as an employee I should be excited.

Critical factors

When deciding on the right OCM methodology there are a couple critical factors that need to be considered. First and foremost, the selected methodology and implementation partner need to have a proven track record in the K12 environment. While OCM is very common and mainstream in the private sector, K12 has just recently started to embrace the concept. From my perspective, selecting an OCM methodology and implementation partner that have experience in the K12 space is mandatory. Since OCM deals with the emotional side of change for K12 employees, I do not know how an implementation partner could possibly be successful without a basic understanding of the environment, culture and processes. I would also look for methodologies that are scalable and easy to use. OCM is a process that should be used for any significant implementation within an organization and should not be limited to just “transformational” projects. Finally, I would look for methodologies that provide training and certification. As your organization becomes more familiar with OCM and the power it brings to any project, investing in-house resources to become certified will save you money. It can also reinforce to the enterprise your commitment as a leader to OCM.

As a leader we know pushing change never works, and that emphasis should be placed on getting an organization ready to change. Implementing and leveraging an OCM methodology provides you, as a leader, the opportunity to show employees you understand the emotional impact change has on an individual’s life. When we create an expectation that we are getting the organization ready rather than pushing and forcing as a leader you will see a culture emerge that embraces continuous improvement

To provide more strategies about leading a technology team, I am excited to announce the 2020 schedule for District Administration’s CIO Summits. Our 2020 CIO Summit series will focus on leading trends and issues facing K12 technology leaders. We have engaged a powerhouse lineup of speakers who will provide practical leadership and strategic practices you can take back to your district. Beyond our speakers, our Summits will provide hands-on learning activities that will allow you to dig deeper into the content presented. Lastly, you will spend two and a half days working closely with your peers, establishing new and long-lasting professional relationships. We will have two CIO Summits, October 14-16 in Chicago and November 18-20 in Long Beach. To register, or to leanr more, visit the DA Leadership Institute.

Lenny Schad, one of the most prominent voices in K-12 technology leadership, is District Administration’s chief information and innovation officer and technology editor-at-large.

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