Being aware of trends across different types of organizations broadens your thinking and deepens context for what you are trying to achieve. This is true of change management. Often, the best strategies, tactics and solutions are found outside the industry in which you participate.
Here are six trends I have observed across industries and public institutions.
Managing multiple changes while delivering short-term results is business as usual for all
It used to be that change was an event and now it's business as usual. Leaders and their teams are tasked with leading and participating in multiple changes and delivering their annual objectives. Adding to the complexity, change agendas can suddenly be reprioritized due to internal or external circumstances, increasing work and reducing performance.
Leaders need to ask the question, "how do I prepare myself and my team to stay resilient as we continually adapt and deliver results?"
Organizational agility is the 'Holy Grail' of effectiveness
Most organizations want the ability to move quickly and easily, ready to respond to external opportunities or threats.
Many organizations aren't set up for flexibility, unknowingly encouraging static thinking and rigid behaviour in the interest of consistency and efficiency. Examples of barriers to agility include strategy happening at a point in time and not being revisited; changes to implementation being viewed as addressing mistakes and increasing risk; and rewarding completion of static plans and projects.
Organizational agility is a mindset enabled by structures, roles, processes, technologies and behaviours. It is only attained through adjustments to how people work.
Leaders are expected to play a greater role in change
Leaders have always been expected to lead change. What is changing is how "leadership" is defined. The "tell me what to say" style of management exhibited by some leaders is rapidly declining; all successful leaders must be fully engaged and personally commitment.
Proactively, organizations are being clear about the leader's role in change and investing in capability development to help them excel in it.
Disruption is desired, little understood and feared
Many leaders want to disrupt their industries to gain competitive advantage. The reality is they are more likely to be disrupted by new competitors, especially if they lead large organizations that offer higher-end products driven by innovation.
Most leaders are not aware of the definition of disruption by Clayton M. Christensen and recently expanded upon by Joshua Gans. Acquiring knowledge is the first step to gaining perspective on disruption and how it can support or jeopardize an organization.
Behaviour-led culture is back as a primary enabler of performance
There is a transition from a process-focused approach to change to a behavioural one. The belief that changing behaviours is the way to change people's mindsets is coming back into popularity. Cultural behavioural norms are being assessed and new ones are being considered.
An interesting twist is that organizations are tagging behaviours to specific strategic objectives like growth and effectiveness.
Consistency through centralization continues to be popular
Organizations are continuing to centralize their strategies, decision making and processes in the interest of alignment, consistency and efficiency. Power is shifting from business units to the central body to align groups and measure and benchmark performance.
In this environment, influence without formal control is essential to plan and implement cross-area changes.
Identifying trends and considering how they impact your organization can broaden your perspectives and give you ideas on how to achieve your goals. Knowing how change management is evolving is one way to increase your agility as you lead change.