In the past few decades, change management has become an industry in and of itself, resulting in the rise of a very niche and necessary profession:change management consulting. These expert consultants offer a plethora of services and tools, and they are even equipped with specialized degrees. Even though change management as an industry is still nascent, the concept itself has been prevalent since the mid-twentieth century – yes, even before the book Who Moved My Cheese? was written in 1998!
The goal of change management is to manage the people affected by the change:aligning people before the change, facilitating smooth operations during the change, and ensuring the change does not create any new problems after implementation. All business functions and all employees are affected by organizational change. Of all the tools a consultant can use to implement an effective change management plan, therefore, organizational intelligence is perhaps the most valuable.
Organizational intelligence is the fiber that connects every part of a business, from the C-suite to the interns. It consists of all the organic knowledge a business holds by virtue of its employees. Understanding this organic knowledge is central to a successful change management plan. It gives a business the ability to understand itself well – how it operates, how its employees behave, etc. Organizational intelligence allows a business to instigate change much more effectively because it can better align itself for success. Tapping into organizational intelligence to inform every step of the change management plan, therefore, will aid the process tremendously.
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The more a consultant (whether external or internal) capitalizes on organizational intelligence, the more effectively he or she can implement change management. Here are six specific ways in which organizational intelligence facilitates change management.
Creating the Framework
In determining the end-goal of the change, strategy for change, and overall framework for how the change will progress, the consultant must consider the effect of the change on every last aspect of the business. Using organizational knowledge and understanding of how every part of the business functions to inform the framework will help ensure that the change will not result in unexpected consequences.
Aligning the Organization
Alignment is the first step to successful change management. An organization cannot effectively change until all its employees understand what the change will be, why it is happening, and how and when it will occur. Tapping into organizational intelligence can help bring everyone on to the same page by creating a holistic picture of the current and future state of every part of the organization. Sharing this picture with the entire organization will help the workforce understand the need for change, strategy for change, etc.
Tapping into organizational intelligence involves gathering intelligence from every corner of an organization, which effectively forces people to talk to each other. Communication is crucial to effective change management, as it allows cultural issues to surface before the change is implemented. Culture is often a significant barrier to organizational change, so the sooner that barrier can be eliminated, the better.
Identifying and Mitigating Risks
Throughout the entire change management process, organizational intelligence can help identify risks. An organization’s employees will likely notice risks before they escalate enough to be a real roadblock. Likewise, because they understand the inner workings of the business, employees may have intelligence around how to effectively lift those roadblocks.
Fostering Leadership Transparency
In order for organizational change to last, people need to want to change. While bringing cultural issues out will help this process, another important aspect is for leadership to be actively involved and transparently supportive of the change. Tapping into organizational intelligence will help ensure consensus among leaders around the goal of the change and why they support it. Clarity among leaders will then encourage leaders to be transparent with their employees.
Tracking progress after change is implemented is essential to ensuring that the change is both permanent and thorough. Organizational intelligence can facilitate tracking progress, allowing the consultant to determine what is working, what processes need tweaking, and where the organization has failed to change.
Organizational intelligence allows an organization’s people to better comprehend and fulfill its core business goals. Because effective organizational change relies heavily on this understanding, organizational intelligence is an invaluable tool for consultants looking to implement change management.