Gaining an understanding of the natural lifecycles associated with the elements of a certain change can greatly advantage the ensuing change performance. The Change Manager can achieve this by learning as much as is ‘reasonably’ possible about an intended change and its context. It follows that it is possible, with enough ‘learning’, to identify the ‘natural lifecycle’ for a given change. Working to fully understand what the change objectives are; the nature of the change, the context for the change, the people and systems impacted by the change and also an understanding of the environment that the change will be undertaken in, provides the Change Manager with the information he needs to build up a picture of the ‘ideal’ change management requirements and inferred lifecycle. If available, historical records of similar change experiences would also help inform the change (Kolb, 1984). Given this information it is possible for a Change Manager to define the optimum lifecycle (the optimum ‘natural’ lifecycle) for a given change and, given such an optimal view, be better enabled to effectively manage the change.
Also, once the natural lifecycle has been identified and the need, business or otherwise, arises that requires it to be compromised, then this can be done from an informed position and, thereby with a degree of premeditation, the Change Manager can work to minimise any ensuing negative consequences.
The attributes of the change lifecycle can be built up over time with recorded real time experiences factored into the resulting perspective. The variables to be considered include:
- Type of people impacted
- Number of people impacted
- Extant cultural elements e.g. pride, discipline
- The expected time change is to be made over
- Change imposed or internally conceived
- Geographical location
- Type and number of systems involved
- Nature of change i.e. working or living conditions, cultural, working practices
Things not considered as part of the lifecycle but seen as change management environmental variables include:
- Whether the impacted community has experienced a similar change before
- Whether the personnel administering the change have had a similar experience before
- Whether the change is welcomed by the people it impacts
- The amount of change activity the organisation has experienced in recent times
These are contextual factors and would, in context, have a modifying effect of the natural lifecycle.
Kolb, D (1984) Experiential Learning, New Jersey, Prentice-Hall, Inc