A few years ago, my colleague Rick approached me with an air of concern and consternation.

It was a look I hadn’t seen on Rick’s face often, as he is known for being unflappable, rock solid. I’d always enjoyed working with Rick, because in contrast, I sometimes come across as tightly wound—although I prefer to describe it as “highly engaged.” Rick, on the other hand, has a wise and calming presence, so his furrowed brow startled me a bit.

“Janet, something is bothering me. I’m noticing a big shift in the way projects are being managed. There have been times when I entered a project and almost immediately, we were implementing a change and I wasn’t ready. I didn’t have a clear change approach and it felt pretty uncomfortable.”

My next breath was a sigh of relief mixed with a bit of shock. I thought, “Wow I have been  feeling this same discomfort, but I thought it was just me.”

To hear Rick say it was a little unnerving, even though it validated everything I felt. Rick and I have each been doing change work for over 20 years. We’re professional, passionate and really good at what we do. This realization was new and unsettling. Yet, we both knew it was real.

The memory of this discomfort was fresh as I had just rolled off a fast-moving, emotionally-draining project. Rick was still in the middle of another one. It was easy to compare notes and find the commonalities:

1

Timelines for both projects were compressed.

2

Scope and targets kept shifting, overwhelming the project team.

3

Team trust and accountability were lacking.

4

The project plan wasn’t flexible enough to adjust.

5

A controlled methodology was missing.

6

Stakeholder groups were not aligned.

These projects were presenting new problems. We both had used our tried-and-true change approaches. The results ultimately were acceptable, but the experience was painful for everyone. The last years seem to have changed the nature of change itself. We need to think and act differently.

Several months later, Rick and I were asked to speak at a change management conference. We quickly agreed on what we wanted to say. Our message was based on our firm belief that change has changed.

“The last years seem to have changed the nature of change itself. We need to think and act differently.”

In the following blog series, we’ll explain our discoveries about how to work with these types of projects, the impact they have on traditional change management practices, and some tips we’ve learned along the way.

Change moves on whether we plan for it or not. Contact us and we can help you and your organization understand and succeed in a dynamic and changing environment.