3. Preparing for change


Those leading and affected by change: Enabling trust and confidence will help everyone to work towards achieving the same vision.

Responses to change:

Everyone's brain is developed to notice and react to change. Common responses include excitement, fear, shock and denial, before acceptance and eventually integration can take place (see the 'change curve', below). There is well-documented information to explain why we have these psychological responses - which are a result of the way that we have evolved so as to protect us from ambiguous and uncertain situations. This may have been essential for survival in the past, but in today's rapidly changing world, being overly wary of change and risk averse is not always helpful. We therefore need to draw on coping strategies to manage and counter these emotions.

One of the most powerful activities that we can do during change is to become aware of our state of mind. Becoming conscious of what is actually changing, as opposed to what we feel is changing, and discussing this with others, can help us begin to make sense of the change and our responses to it. Indeed, in order to increase our resilience during change, it is important to have honest and open discussions-by reaching out to others and accessing/establishing our own support networks.

Adopting a project management approach:

Although change is not always linear or tidy, the process for managing it in most organisational contexts is grounded in a project management framework. At the University of Greenwich, if the change affects peoples job roles you should seek advice from Human Resources and review the organisation restructure policy. If a project does not affect people's roles, then it is recommended you plan your change using a project management approach. The University's approach to managing IT from 'IT Projects' can be found here. Click on the Initial Project Development Request form for more information.

Prior to undertaking any change effort, you will need to develop a successful initiation stage - which will support your business case. To do this, it is vital to have a proper understanding of the problems/issues at hand. Is it an actual problem which is affecting the quality of what we do or want to achieve in the future, or is it a conundrum? You need to be aware of the range of options available, and to undertake a cost/benefits analysis by carrying out research with key stakeholders (which is sometimes referred to as a scoping exercise). Early conversations with your key stakeholders will allow you to assess whether change is needed, and to consider the breadth of what is required.

Change Management resources