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The Change Curve is a map used to help pinpoint where you are in a hanged initiative, where you need to go and how you should proceed to get there. There are five phases of the Change Curve: Stagnation, Preparation, Implementation, Determination, and Fruition. By developing an understanding of each of these phases, managers and leaders are better equipped to deal with the emotions and resistance people feel when confronted with the fact that they are facing a major change.
The author uses examples and stories about fictitious and real companies going through a major change or transformation to describe the right way and the wrong way to approach the Change Curve and manipulate your organization along he path. Emphasis in the book is placed on the importance of correctly dealing with the human factors in that the success or failure of the change depends on how well managers deal with the social and emotional dynamics Involved In change.
Used to describe all of the human issues that are involved in making major changes both personally and professionally.
Based on her personal and professional experiences, she proposes that the emotional experience of going through change is similar for individuals and also for all kinds of organizations. Further, in order to be effective, she suggests that leaders and managers must not think of change as only an operational task, they must take into consideration the emotional data. “If leaders don’t take into consideration the emotional data, all the operational information and numeric data in the world won’t be enough to turn around a company.
Changing an organization is inherently and inescapably an emotional human process. When I say emotional, I’m not talking about fleeting moods or surface feelings. I’m talking about the major states of emotional beings: fear curiosity, exhaustion, loyalty, paranoia, oppression, optimism, rage, revelation, delight, and love. ” (Duck, peg. 9) Based on her observations as a consultant, Duck identifies a common pattern that individuals experience when going through major change. From these observations, she surmises that if the common pattern is identified and understood, it can be managed.
From this revelation, she developed what she calls the Change Curve. The Change Curve has five phases: Stagnation, Preparation, Implementation, Determination, and Fruition. The Change Curve is applicable to a wide range of companies, industries, and geographies because while each experience is different, he fundamental phases and principles of change are the same. “Once you begin to recognize the phases of change and understand the dynamics of each one, the Change Curve becomes visible – and useful – in almost every field of activity. (Duck peg. 11) While change is arguably an emotional human process, the author also introduces two other essential elements required for successful change: Strategy, and Execution. The organization’s strategy must be sound and clearly articulated. The organization’s commitment to the strategy and values articulated must be unflinching. In the book, the author uses an event that occurred during one of her hanged consulting projects to demonstrate the importance of sticking to the values articulated and the difficulty involved in doing so.
The company involved was Micro Switch and during a recession, when sales were dwindling, the decision had to be made as to whether the company would adhere to its new vision and values or return to the old way of doing things. “In the past, Micro Switch had dealt with any downturn in the economy by laying off workers. But, early in the change process, the management team had articulated a set of values, one of which was: ‘Our workforce is our strongest competitive advantage. When the business started to go south and the prospect of a layoff hit us, we really had to fight it out’. ” (Duck peg. 40) The manager of Micro Switch displayed both a commitment to the new strategy and also good basic management skills, which Duck refers to as Execution. Instead of instituting a layoff to deal with the poor economic conditions, the manager and his team devised other ways to curtail costs like time off without pay and without the loss of benefits. This approach saved the employees’ Jobs while allowing the company to cut costs and continue being productive. Erect way to go about a change process. In order to demonstrate the wrong way, the author uses a fictitious company, Coven.
Coven is the result of a merger between two pharmaceutical companies and in reality is the conglomeration of several different clients the author has worked with throughout her consulting career. Coven’s manager, unlike Micro Switch’s manager has little experience with change management and does not believe attention should be paid to the human dynamics involved in the change process. As a result, his Journey along the Change Curve is not as smooth as the manager of Micro Switch.
The change curve
The Change Curve is like a map of the territory of change.
On the map, Stagnation is the first stop or first phase of change. In the Stagnation phase, companies find themselves denying that they have a problem or refusing to see opportunities. Companies in this stage refuse to admit that they need to make a radical change even though there are many objective and emotional indicators that they are in fact in Stagnation. There are two types of Stagnation, depressed and hyperactive: An organization in depressed Stagnation may face declining sales and market share, a rope in stock price or the inability to come up with new products.
The mood off company in depressed stagnation is also readily detectable. The employees feel drained, lifeless, hopeless and uncertain. “Wherever it is, the energy level is low; people you come in contact with look tired and dispirited. There’s no buzz or bustle among colleagues, little laughing, but sometimes a lot of whispering. You get the feeling that everybody is marking time till the day is over. If they have any passion at all, it isn’t for their Job or their product or their customers. ” (Duck peg. 40-41) In contrast, companies in hyperactive stagnation engage in frenzied activity. These companies are like neurotic individuals or children with attention deficit disorder (ADD) – their attention leaps from one thing to the next, but there is precious little follow-through or forward progress. ” (Duck peg. 41) Any type of organization can stagnate, even in a healthy economy. Stagnation can occur as a result of a number of reasons: poor strategy, a lack of leadership, a shift in the market, a product failure, lack of new products or services, too few resources, an outdated technology or recess, and finally, poor execution of strategy.
In some companies facing stagnation, the employees feel so comfortable that they have no sense of threat. The author refers to this as a delusional state – “If there is a threat, it is regarded as a phantom – not really dangerous, not something to get overly exercised about. ” (Duck peg. 21) In order to end a period of Stagnation, there must be a forceful demand for change by someone in a position of power or authority – usually a senior operating executive. External demand forces include takeovers, mergers and acquisitions. Some internal ores include divestitures, reorganizations, cost-cutting exercises, and initial public offerings (Ipso).
Another useful tool for leaders to use in order to end stagnation is a crisis. “Fear is a motivator. The threat of annihilation will cause people to come together and perform with renewed vigor. ” (Duck peg. 57) After the decision has been the situation and determine the best strategic option for the company. Transforming the company should not to be taken lightly. Key elements to consider when a decision has been made to institute a change initiative are:
Roles and responsibilities
Locations of operation and facilities
Size and capability of workforce
The more complex and far-reaching these elements are the more time consuming, resource draining and major the change will be.
This second phase of the Change Curve begins when the decision to change is made. During this phase, a huge amount of operational work must be done. Leaders must work together in order to design the new organizational structure, define roles and responsibilities, determine which products, services and capabilities will be critical ongoing forward, and redesign core processes. The most important aspect of the leadership team is alignment around the vision and strategy; without it, the change effort will not move forward. ” (Duck peg. 95) Alignment is gained through listening, sharing and refining. Leaders must meet with their management teams, hold group discussions and review data together in order to achieve alignment on vision, strategy, and values. Leaders must also define what behaviors will and will not be accepted. Also during preparation, all members of the organization will feel a certain amount of anxiety.
Leaders should try to use this anxiety to create a desire for change. “They should work to help people feel hopeful and excited about the future and eager to contribute to it, because these emotions produce the energy that will be necessary when working through the myriad tasks during Implementation. ” (Duck peg. 92) The author uses the Coven merger to demonstrate how a lack of alignment of values and culture can lead to mistrust and how a lack of communication leads to rumors and misinformation. “At Coven, anxiety fueled by apprehension, fear, and mistrust, became a kind of Preparation UCM dread. Duck peg. 114) Finally, it is important for leaders to be genuinely committed to the change because employees can detect a fake sense of commitment. And, why should they (employees) get excited or give their support to a change initiative when the leadership is not fully committed to the change? Because Preparation is an in between phase, executives often have the desire to skip it or “get on with it”. Executives must fight the urge to go off in different directions because without alignment among the leaders, the change effort will not be successful.
Implementation plopped an overall plan, come up with assignments, new reporting lines, and new processes, Implementation begins. Implementation is the real beginning of the change – a time for action. During Implementation, it is the Job of the managers to work with the employees to ensure they understand the overall plan, are committed and motivated to the plan and know how to properly execute the requirements. “Unfortunately, many executives and managers believe that having a clear plan is the final deliverable. They assume that the operational changes will occur and will then beget the full transformation.
They take their eye off the ball once the plan is delivered and are surprised, months later, when things aren’t working as intended. ” (Duck peg. 26) The author suggests several ways to start Implementation:
Test then deploy – This option works best when the change involves a new process that can be first tested on a small scale before instituting it throughout the organization.
Build Behavior first – In order to demonstrate that the organization can succeed, focus on a single objective that involves people throughout the organization. A small win will convince the employees that success is possible and he change can work.
Enlist star power or have a public hanging – To demonstrate the seriousness of the commitment to change, hire someone impressive or fire someone that everyone believes cannot be fired. This will get the attention of the employees.
Convert by attraction – This option uses benchmarking within the organization. By working through the changes in one division or business unit, the successes can then be re-worked in another business unit or division.
Planned replication – Use this approach when the change involves replication or a system or reoccurred that is reasonably mechanical and quantifiable. Have managers who will have to implement the same changes in their departments involved in the change efforts in other departments so that they can learn from observation and also share best practices. It is very important during Implementation to address those who are resistant to the change being implemented. Often resistance is due to lack of information. All too often, no one works with specific subgroups – walking them through the desired actions, taking questions, and helping them to deal directly with heir concerns. ” (Duck peg. 175)
Once someone takes the time to communicate what the change means in regard to an employee’s or group’s specific tasks, resistance often dissipates. During Implementation, communication is absolutely necessary to keep the change effort on track and ensure that everyone knows what the other is doing and the work stays coordinated and mutually reinforcing. In organizations, there are formal and informal communication networks.
Everyday work normally gets done through informal networks like telephone calls, e-mails, and meetings in the hallways. Through these networks, individuals share information and build trust. It is important that these informal networks are not disrupted during a change process because a disruption in the network causes a disruption in people’s ability to do their Jobs. Also, these informal networks are an excellent resource for managers in that information travels quickly throughout the firm at a time when people are hungry for information.
The author states that there are three key kinds of informal advantage during a change process. The three networks described by the author are Cassandra, Networks, and Influencer. Cassandra are often middle managers and line supervisors, the first to recognize impending change and give an early warning. Networks are people who are well known around the many different groups throughout the organization and can move back and forth between the various groups. They know the organization, know what people are saying and have no problem articulating the current attitudes and interpretations.
These people are like thermometers – accurately registering the organization’s emotional temperature. And finally, the author details what role Influencer play; these people can adjust and hanged the attitudes of the organizations. This is an ability that the Cassandra and Networks may not have. “Influencer usually constitute about 10 percent of the organization. ” (Duck peg. 188) Influencer can change the attitudes of resisters and therefore can be very useful to a manager during a change process.
Determination is the most critical phase of the change process because during this phase people begin to realize that the changes are real and that they will have to proceed forward doing everything differently. They may begin to realize that offices eave been moved, their boss is no longer their boss, their company’s headquarters may have even moved. The desire to return to the way it was is overwhelming during Determination and people long for a reason to quit. “To successfully manage change during Determination, the leaders must manage people’s expectations, energy and experience.
Negative events will undoubtedly occur, but acknowledging and addressing setbacks can do wonders for credibility and morale. ” It is very important for leaders to stay involved during the Determination phase even after they think the organization is on the road to Fruition. Withdrawal of support ND scrutiny from leaders is one of the major causes of failure during the Determination phase. During Determination, managers must not allow retreat or backsliding to occur. Employees must not be allowed to do their own thing or do things they old way.
Performance measures and benchmarks must be based on the new processes and procedures. “When people work hard during the Implementation phase and then see their progress dissipate, morale drops like a stone… They feel their sacrifices and accomplishments have been marginalia… They become wary of committing themselves again; they grow cynical and Jaded. ” (Duck peg. It s not only the employees that run the risk of burnout during Determination. Executives must realize that a major change initiative will severely disrupt their personal and family lives and can wreak havoc on their mental, physical and emotional well-being.
The author prescribes a dose of exercise combined with a strong support system in order to successfully navigate the Change Curve. The emotional aspect of change is most intense during Determination. However, in order for change to be real and long-lasting, it has to take place deeply and completely – emotionally, intellectually, and operationally. (Duck peg. 249) 5. Fruition “Fruition is the sweetest and most satisfying phase, a brief but golden time – a period time, to share the rewards and recognition generously, and to revel in the hard- earned gains the organization has made. (Duck peg. 254) Fruition is the time of pay-offs, when the results of all the hard work and long hours are finally visible. Fruition brings with it a time of excitement, when the entire organization seems new. It is the antithesis of Stagnation. During Fruition the stock price goes up, sales rise, people are enthused at work, talented people are hired and work is done faster, better and more efficiently. Fruition also brings with it the danger that people will once again become complacent in their accomplishments, and another period of Stagnation will be waiting around the corner.
It is important that managers cement the trust and unity that has been gained and also embed the capabilities and attitudes that have led to the success. These tasks will be vitally important in overcoming the Change Monster faster in the future. “The goal of capturing the learning is to help the workforce internalize their experiences so that what has been learned and achieved during the change initiative is not lost. Rather, it is acknowledged, distilled, and used as a building block for he next change. ” (Duck peg. 256) Finally, a leader needs to ensure that the change is institutionalized and the author proposes six ways to do this:
Don’t make today’s innovations into tomorrow’s sacred cows: Constantly reassess and reevaluate processes and procedures for the next new way of doing things.
Stay abreast of the external environment: Listen to customers and keep an eye on competitors. Do not get too comfortable with your position in the market.
Keep listening to and communicating with the organization: Continue using the informal networks to keep your finger on the pulse of the organization.
Recruit fresh blood: Give those who have lead the change initiative a rest period and hire some fresh eyes from within or from without.
Leverage your champion: The stars of the change initiative should be sent to other departments to convey their knowledge and expertise.
Build skills of self- observation and correction; teach the Change Curve: The fundamentals of managing change should be practiced within the organization until all are proficient and experienced at dealing with and managing change.
Jeanie Duck states that one of the problems with writing about change is that “it seems as if everything has been said before – and it probably has. ” (Duck peg. 65) After reading this book, I feel somewhat the same way. The author used different terms and experiences, but primarily the principles of effective change management are the same. During this semester we have studied about change and read several articles about change. While reading this book, I was able to reflect on the similarities between the book and the concepts I have learned in this class. Some primary examples of similarities between the book and the course material re the comparison of the author’s five phases of change or the Change Curve and the 3 phase Change Cycle Model.
It is easy to see how that Stagnation and Preparation are aligned with Initiating, Implementation is aligned with of course Implementing and Determination and Fruition are aligned with Institutionalizing. And values with the new proposed strategy and vision, finding a sponsor, capturing the benefits, adequately identifying who will be affected and how, and the importance of communication and informal networks. In our readings, the role of the Central Connector was basically the same as the Networks’ role described by the author.
Also in our readings, we discussed topics such as challenging the status quo, creating a crisis to motivate people to change, managing every aspect of the change while still empowering capable employees and finally, institutionalizing the change. All of these topics were demonstrated in the Change Monster in some example or other. In an article, Carol Bart discussed using your personality, which to me means not being afraid to call upon your experiences, your humor, the real you in an effort to win loyalty from your employees.
I believe hat people respect honesty and openness more than a fake fade of what we think a manager should act like. Everyone makes mistakes and I believe it is important to acknowledge one’s mistakes, laugh about them, learn from them and then move on. The author also believes that personality and personal experiences are invaluable tools to guide you through the Change Curve. “The phases an individual experiences in a major life event (leaving home, finding a Job, marriage, divorce, parenthood, moving) are essentially the same phases an organization goes through during any fundamental change initiative.