Why change management needs design thinking

October 14, 2009
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Unfortunately, traditional change management tactics fall short of realizing successful change. Tactical change management plans are only as useful as the strategy that drives them. You can’t put your change process into boxes and check everything off and call it “leading change.”

People_GlobalWhat’s missing from change management is the process of design thinking. By this I mean involving those impacted by the change in the creation of the solution – taking a human centered approach to the design of the solution. Change management methodologies assume the design of the change will be done by the project management side of the house and the change management team will handle the people side. I wish the world were that black and white sometimes, but it’s not. Having a few key leaders or a project team come up with a plan and then expecting people to adopt is a recipe for failure and resistance. People rarely support initiatives they had no part in designing. Proactively addressing concerns by adopting an inclusive design process can prevent the unconscious threat response that results when people feel they have played no part in a change that affects them every day.

Leaders who understand



Unfortunately, traditional change management tactics fall short of realizing successful change. Tactical change management plans are only as useful as the strategy that drives them. You can’t put your change process into boxes and check everything off and call it “leading change.”

People_GlobalWhat’s missing from change management is the process of design thinking. By this I mean involving those impacted by the change in the creation of the solution – taking a human centered approach to the design of the solution. Change management methodologies assume the design of the change will be done by the project management side of the house and the change management team will handle the people side. I wish the world were that black and white sometimes, but it’s not. Having a few key leaders or a project team come up with a plan and then expecting people to adopt is a recipe for failure and resistance. People rarely support initiatives they had no part in designing. Proactively addressing concerns by adopting an inclusive design process can prevent the unconscious threat response that results when people feel they have played no part in a change that affects them every day.

Leaders who understand this dynamic can more effectively engage their employees’ best talents, support collaborative teams, and create an environment that fosters productive change. How many changes have you seen designed in a vacuum?