Change…making the seemingly impossible, possible
We would like to welcome the newest member of our team Craig Thornthwaite. Craig joined us in November as a Managing Consultant supporting our clients with change and projects. Craig looks back at his work and experience.
I first dipped my toe in the Change Management water in the early 1990’s. Since then, I have worked with large multi-national and public sector clients at all levels, across most continents and industries. This has meant leading projects with multiple stakeholders in complex organisations, building competency frameworks and managing the end-to-end project life-cycle. The common themes have been embedding cultural and behavioural change, “making it stick” (more of that later) and helping my teams to apply their knowledge and be brave in trying their new skills!
Looking back to those early first steps, the formalisation of change management was new and different to me and gave anyone who was new to management, and some who were not, a framework and consistent terminology to work with. And, do you know what? It worked! Suddenly, most large organisations had a Change Management Function or Programme Management Office and projects took on a whole new meaning. Roles and responsibilities were clarified, and again no surprise, projects became more consistently successful.
Perhaps arising from this formalisation of the Change Management landscape, over the last 30+ years the two words which have really stuck out for me are ‘change’ and ‘innovation’, and many organisations realised that these evolving ways of working could give them competitive advantage and grow their business. Project Management, as an agent of change, was here to stay!
Change has increasingly come to be perceived positively by business; as an opportunity, not a threat. For example, Dyson file on average 450 patent applications globally each year (The James Dyson Foundation: Own Your Ideas). That is change and they are pretty successful at it!
Charles Darwin, British naturalist, famously said “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one most adaptable to change”. The same could be said for organisations, with the most successful adapting structures and approaches to develop changed behaviours and competencies to make the desired change stick.
Then 2020 happened and the business world turned on its head. Change is now supercharged, with organisations planning for 2022 and beyond, scrabbling to meet rapidly changing demands, through “optimisation”, “mergers and acquisitions”, and “consolidation”. Rules, policies and procedures are constantly changing at insane speed, directly affecting business’ ability to react.
Words which we have probably all used, “hybrid”, “remote” and “virtual” have taken on new meanings, adding to the feeling that change can seem an impossible challenge. However, the core principles remain constant; irrespective of their position or role, the key component is your people. If they are unable or unwilling to adapt, for whatever reason, then organisational change will be difficult to implement and impossible to make stick. Do we have the appropriate behaviours and competencies? How adaptable is our organisation to change? How can we improve our resilience through change? These are the questions our clients are keen to address as they face the uncertainties of early 2022.
So, during the first quarter of this year, CITI will be focusing on understanding change at three levels – the individual, the organisation and the wider world. We will be running surveys, building change communities and providing forums where we share insights, stories and learning points from our partners, clients and network around both technical and behavioural change. Assisting our contacts with understanding how to navigate the longer-term changes that are likely to persist.
We hope you will join in the series of activities over the next few months to talk about all things change. CITI would welcome your comments, thoughts and insights, which you are welcome to share with our community by joining the CITI Centre of Excellence Club (CofEe) network.
Craig Thornthwaite, Managing Consultant
Craig is a highly experienced consultant in project and programme management and the sponsorship of such initiatives. A practitioner, with over 25 years of experience, he has been deeply involved in projects, throughout the lifecycle, as well as discharging operational management functions in a variety of sectors. Craig can be contacted via email at CThornthwaite@citi.co.uk