The People Side of Change

A Deloitte study identifies 8 aspects of the people side of change that need to be managed:

  1. People risk and impact management
  2. Leadership alignment and stakeholder engagement
  3. Communications
  4. Culture
  5. Organizational design and governance
  6. Talent requirements and HR programs
  7. Workforce transition
  8. Learning and capability transfer

The Be Excellent blog, drew on this recently published Deloitte research to emphasise that change initiatives often fail not because of the technology, but because the people side of change is not effectively managed. People need to be brought along for the ride. Stakeholders need to be identified, understood and engaged. Plans need to be put in place to communicate, plan for and monitor change across the people affected by or involved in the change initiative. has been running a series of posts on topics which have struck me as true – but sort of obvious.

This got me thinking about the purpose of blogging. For the Be Excellent blog, posting on what might be obvious as Change Management 101 to people working in the Change Management field is of value to his readers, because the point of the blog is to support the book Six Disciplines for Excellence – aimed at small business owners – and many of his readers are new to topics such as corporate strategy, measuring performance against stated objectives – and to Change Management. Reiterating to what to many practitioners may be the blinding obvious may be an excellent service to the majority of his readers.

And, again, it is worth re-emphasising (for any of those of us who do not have this burned into our professional credo) that to achieve change, and for effective execution/implementation of strategy, change management in general and managing the people side of change in particular is absolutely fundamental.

5 Responses to The People Side of Change
  1. christianhauck
    March 27, 2007 | 1:10 PM

    You might read Leandro Herrero's book "Viral Change" for a contrarian view – or at least read the blurb on Amazon
    http://www.amazon.com/Viral-Change-alternative-unsuccessful-organizations/dp/1905776012/
    He's the one who also commented on your excellent Tipping Point review.

  2. Dr. Lauchlan A. K. Mackinnon
    March 27, 2007 | 1:33 PM

    Hi christianhauck,

    Thanks for the comment. I read the description of the book and it certainly sounds interesting.

    But I'm interested (without having read the book) as to why you see it as a contrarian point of view . . . the blurb says that the focus is on changing behaviours, which is key to standard Change Management. The idea of starting the change program with a set of agents who then spread the change 'virally' doesn't seem that far removed from Kotter's Leading Change where the change program starts out with a small group of core change agents in a pilot and ripples out from there.

    It sounds like a good articulation of a point of view quite consistent with the 'standard' approach . . .

    Thanks for bringing the book to my attention again, and it's made it to the shopping cart this time!

    Kind regards

    Lauchlan Mackinnon

  3. christianhauck
    March 29, 2007 | 6:53 AM

    Leandro is a very creative, unconventional thinker. This book is his way to make his original thoughts digestible and understandable by those overly exposed to the conventional approach. When in Rome, speak as the romans do, in order to create some overlap in language and mental models. It does not help to be original but incomprehensible. In a way, that's a didactical purpose, watering it down a little bit, in oder to appeal to practicioners (managers, leader) who don't have time for academic aspects.

    As a consequence, it may look more conventional than it is.

    The "contrarian" aspect is in the way how different things are explicitely removed from the scope (culture, mindset …). This lean approach allows to focus attention and energy to oberservable behaviors, and the the big picture of the network, it's shape, and key people therein.
    Culture then emerges from the behaviors, not the other way around. You can't (at least not directly and predicibly) change culture (which is an "output", I prefere "emergent property"), but you can influence it by tinkering with the input(behaviors, in particular if those people with power select few non-negotiables) and then some change in culture emerges.

  4. Dr. Lauchlan A. K. Mackinnon
    March 29, 2007 | 9:38 AM

    hi christianhauck,

    Thanks again for your thoughts.

    I'm intrigued by the way you describe culture as an output, whereas I see culture as both and output and an input.

    This is reminiscent of something I got quite interested in for my Ph.D, called structure/agency theory. Structure/agency theory is interested in the relation of social agents to social institutions, and culture is inextricably wrapped up with the formation and evolution of social institutions, and both shapes and is shaped by behaviours.

    I wrote a wikipedia article on it, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Structure_and_agency which has been modified by a couple of people but should give you the general idea.

    I think this is a big topic, but at a first glance I seem to see culture relating to behaviour quite differently than you . . . From the point of view of structure/agency theory you sound like leaning towards methodological individualism in that you favour behaviours as being the primary theoretical entity that shape culture, without closing the loop and letting culture also shape behaviour so that they each shape each other . . .

    Kind regards

    Lauchlan Mackinnon

  5. christianhauck
    April 2, 2007 | 8:52 AM

    Big topic, indeed. My approach to these huge topics:
    avoid the middle ground. For theory, I try to "collect" many different contrarian positions, trying to stay away from judgment, in order to come closer to a multiperspective point of view (which of course is an illusion for a single person, but I may try, you see the point), BUT when it comes to action, I try to restrict myself to modest things which can be influenced. Hence: no attempt to handle the "culture thing" directly – beware of the reification fallacy.
    And: yes your thesis is laos on the list of things to read, but … there's so much 😉

The People Side of Change

A Deloitte study identifies 8 aspects of the people side of change that need to be managed:

  1. People risk and impact management
  2. Leadership alignment and stakeholder engagement
  3. Communications
  4. Culture
  5. Organizational design and governance
  6. Talent requirements and HR programs
  7. Workforce transition
  8. Learning and capability transfer

The Be Excellent blog, drew on this recently published Deloitte research to emphasise that change initiatives often fail not because of the technology, but because the people side of change is not effectively managed. People need to be brought along for the ride. Stakeholders need to be identified, understood and engaged. Plans need to be put in place to communicate, plan for and monitor change across the people affected by or involved in the change initiative. has been running a series of posts on topics which have struck me as true – but sort of obvious.

This got me thinking about the purpose of blogging. For the Be Excellent blog, posting on what might be obvious as Change Management 101 to people working in the Change Management field is of value to his readers, because the point of the blog is to support the book Six Disciplines for Excellence – aimed at small business owners – and many of his readers are new to topics such as corporate strategy, measuring performance against stated objectives – and to Change Management. Reiterating to what to many practitioners may be the blinding obvious may be an excellent service to the majority of his readers.

And, again, it is worth re-emphasising (for any of those of us who do not have this burned into our professional credo) that to achieve change, and for effective execution/implementation of strategy, change management in general and managing the people side of change in particular is absolutely fundamental.

5 Responses to The People Side of Change
  1. christianhauck
    March 27, 2007 | 1:10 PM

    You might read Leandro Herrero's book "Viral Change" for a contrarian view – or at least read the blurb on Amazon
    http://www.amazon.com/Viral-Change-alternative-unsuccessful-organizations/dp/1905776012/
    He's the one who also commented on your excellent Tipping Point review.

  2. Dr. Lauchlan A. K. Mackinnon
    March 27, 2007 | 1:33 PM

    Hi christianhauck,

    Thanks for the comment. I read the description of the book and it certainly sounds interesting.

    But I'm interested (without having read the book) as to why you see it as a contrarian point of view . . . the blurb says that the focus is on changing behaviours, which is key to standard Change Management. The idea of starting the change program with a set of agents who then spread the change 'virally' doesn't seem that far removed from Kotter's Leading Change where the change program starts out with a small group of core change agents in a pilot and ripples out from there.

    It sounds like a good articulation of a point of view quite consistent with the 'standard' approach . . .

    Thanks for bringing the book to my attention again, and it's made it to the shopping cart this time!

    Kind regards

    Lauchlan Mackinnon

  3. christianhauck
    March 29, 2007 | 6:53 AM

    Leandro is a very creative, unconventional thinker. This book is his way to make his original thoughts digestible and understandable by those overly exposed to the conventional approach. When in Rome, speak as the romans do, in order to create some overlap in language and mental models. It does not help to be original but incomprehensible. In a way, that's a didactical purpose, watering it down a little bit, in oder to appeal to practicioners (managers, leader) who don't have time for academic aspects.

    As a consequence, it may look more conventional than it is.

    The "contrarian" aspect is in the way how different things are explicitely removed from the scope (culture, mindset …). This lean approach allows to focus attention and energy to oberservable behaviors, and the the big picture of the network, it's shape, and key people therein.
    Culture then emerges from the behaviors, not the other way around. You can't (at least not directly and predicibly) change culture (which is an "output", I prefere "emergent property"), but you can influence it by tinkering with the input(behaviors, in particular if those people with power select few non-negotiables) and then some change in culture emerges.

  4. Dr. Lauchlan A. K. Mackinnon
    March 29, 2007 | 9:38 AM

    hi christianhauck,

    Thanks again for your thoughts.

    I'm intrigued by the way you describe culture as an output, whereas I see culture as both and output and an input.

    This is reminiscent of something I got quite interested in for my Ph.D, called structure/agency theory. Structure/agency theory is interested in the relation of social agents to social institutions, and culture is inextricably wrapped up with the formation and evolution of social institutions, and both shapes and is shaped by behaviours.

    I wrote a wikipedia article on it, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Structure_and_agency which has been modified by a couple of people but should give you the general idea.

    I think this is a big topic, but at a first glance I seem to see culture relating to behaviour quite differently than you . . . From the point of view of structure/agency theory you sound like leaning towards methodological individualism in that you favour behaviours as being the primary theoretical entity that shape culture, without closing the loop and letting culture also shape behaviour so that they each shape each other . . .

    Kind regards

    Lauchlan Mackinnon

  5. christianhauck
    April 2, 2007 | 8:52 AM

    Big topic, indeed. My approach to these huge topics:
    avoid the middle ground. For theory, I try to "collect" many different contrarian positions, trying to stay away from judgment, in order to come closer to a multiperspective point of view (which of course is an illusion for a single person, but I may try, you see the point), BUT when it comes to action, I try to restrict myself to modest things which can be influenced. Hence: no attempt to handle the "culture thing" directly – beware of the reification fallacy.
    And: yes your thesis is laos on the list of things to read, but … there's so much 😉