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What’s the Difference between Management and Change Management?
Submitted by Richard Derwent Cooke on March 26th, 2011
I had this question posed today and it hit a nerve as I’d been talking about this the other evening. It’s a good question and I wish it were asked more often. The short version of my answer was:
“The right answer should be very little, as I have always maintained that change is the key job of management, but I think that their focus and their results would be improved if managers realised that one key to success is constantly asking two questions:
- What needs changing?
- What is beginning to change that shouldn’t?”
Managers should be focusing on the strategic level and noticing what isn’t working; listening to customers and suppliers to find out how things could be improved. They need to be scanning competitors to see who is doing something new and also who is doing something wrong. All of these are signals to change things around. If they can find nothing in these categories then they should be wondering how they could do the same things better or cheaper or faster.
“Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change.”
The other side of the coin, which I feel gets far too little attention under the ‘change banner’, is where you are doing everything right and things start to change without you wishing them too. It takes effort to keep things the same and you have to pay attention to training and processes to make sure that they don’t decay as management shift their attention to the next fire.
“Management” (from Old French management “the art of conducting, directing”, from Latin manu agere “to lead by the hand”) characterises the process of leading and directing all or part of an organization, often a business, through the deployment and manipulation of resources (human, financial, material, intellectual or intangible).
You can see from this definition managers should be constantly asking “Where do I get the best ‘bang for my buck’?” and this means both in terms of their personal time and energy and from the corporate resources they control. One of my favourite clients freely admits he is so good at putting out fires that he just loves rushing round in his fire engine. Indeed, few have a brighter, shinier or faster fire engine! However, we all have jobs we like to do, jobs that make us feel worthwhile. These are often the safe harbours we pull into to avoid looking into the void of “I don’t know …” However, I’d suggest that really the good manager should feel that way at least once a day and probably hourly if he is focusing on the right things. If you already know all the answers you aren’t asking hard enough questions!
“Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have – and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up.”
James Belasco and Ralph Stayer
It is trite to say it (but that has never stopped me before!), but change management needs to start with you! If you are doing the same things every day then you are stuck in a comfy rut. I know there are hundreds or emails, tens of meetings and crises galore, but if you aren’t managing the business … who is?
“Whosoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times.”
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