What’s in a Name? (Part 2 of 3)

Continuing the conversation from my last post, I will begin with a statement that will probably annoy the most people and no doubt cause some consternation from others! With a deep breath I shall say it, Organizational Change Management is not the same as Change Management. There, I said it!

Where am I getting this nonsense from you may ask? I will explain by revisiting the origins of the phrase organizational change management.

In a different time, at a different place and in a different way there was much confusion about change management. People were trying to define the way people adopted change and applied themselves to the new order of things and the phrase change management resonated with them. It was all about helping people to change the way they did things but it hit a snag. The majority of change activity was being driven by technology and process redesign – the hip and happening things to drive forward new and improved organizations at the time – and there was use of the phrase change Windows NT Graphicmanagement within project management and IT processes to refer to elements of controlling the way projects or technology gets changes or the documentation around the requirements is changes (I’m no expert in these fields so please don’t call me out on the semantics here). So there was confusion “I do change management” had multiple definitions, but as the focus from our side was the people side of things and much like the view of organizational development’s role, Organizational Change Management was born as a term! There were also a few dabbles in people change management, behavioural change management and some other phrases that have long gone past me now.

So those people who focus on the people change management bucket of work, adopted organizational change management to reflect their craft as their steered people adopting to new technologies and processes through resistance and learning activities.

Now I have no problem with the term being used, but change management has further evolved to really embrace the cultural, strategic and global change activities needed to support growth and development in business, public and the third sectors. I see the umbrella for change management including a range of areas for which a significant proportion is that area of organizational change management. However, when we look at the strategic change management areas listed above – the whole transformational change activity, then its more than organizational change management.

So what is my gripe on the use of organizational change management? Well I see too many people interchanging change management and organizational change management as one and the same skill set and need for a job role yet it isn’t. It’s too often the easy out option to show they are talking about the people side of things in this change management role, yet the role needs to transform the business by refocusing the culture and aligning with a new vision and mission and that is a far bigger ask than OCM skills. Oh yes, I slipped into using the OCM abbreviation – the other irritation to reflect the area is to give it an acronym an it must be the right thing!

While I’m in this opinion piece – and I do accept it is my opinion piece that may not be shared by everyone – let’s just get over the transformation word. If you are transformsuperheroing something, it will no longer look like what it was before – that’s total change. Transformation is not interchangeable with change and really gets used far too freely to sound like a more impressive type of change when its business change that is needed. Get over the over inflation of terms for the sake of it!

So my ask of the change management community, recruiters and all others in who stick a toe in the world is to stop interchanging Organizational Change Management (OCM) and Change Management. At one time it reflected the depth of the change management evolution, but that time has now passed and we are reaching further into the area of developing human potential for the maximum effect ™

After 2 critical posts, my next one will be a complimentary one – I promise!


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