Definition and Change Management – If You Can’t Define It . . .

Spread the Love!

If you cannot define it, you cannot measure it.

If you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it.

If you cannot manage it, you cannot change it.

If you cannot change it, you stay the same.

Definition – The Secret in Change Management

I started to research Change Management in the late1980’s. Computers were all the rage and having worked my way up the Corporate Ladder to become a Supervisor at the tender age of 21, I had to figure out how to get people to use them to work more efficiently. Having studied Actuarial Science and qualified as a Programmer/Analyst, I was convinced that I was “bright” and getting people to change the way they worked would be a shot in the dark. To say I was wrong would be an understatement! I was mad to even think of it as a possibility!

Nintendos were all the rage and Pac-Man ruled video arcades. The personal computer (PC) was experiencing explosive growth in the US and IBM PCs were the rage of professionals everywhere. Mobile phones were status symbols and only available to the rich and famous. It was a good way to win friends. I wrote my Company’s first email programme. How could anyone NOT want to be a part of all this?!?!

It was during my many struggles and conflicts in these years that I realised I was way off the mark with my thinking that everyone would be willing to drop everything and hop on my bus so easily. I recall my Director at the time saying to me: “Breakdown the problem, Cassandra, break it down. Root Analysis. Definition.”  

Definition? Define what?

Define WHAT you want to change and make sure that your definition is so clear and simple, anyone would want to change. Do not try to change them yourself. Let them change themselves. But, make them hungry for what you have to say, what you are offering and what benefit it will bring to their lives.”

As simple as those words may sound, they were not simple to internalise and put into practice. The next step in the process kept taking me back to definition though. And, lessons are repeated until learned. (Chicken Soup for the Soul). And learn I did!

Measurement – Where You Are vs. Where You Want To Be

So I knew that definition was my starting point and change was the outcome I wanted, but the management of that change was my Nemesis. How was I going to connect Definition and Change Management and use it as the enabling factor? How was I going to get people to give me their attention? To listen. That’s when I dug into my tool bag and latched onto to measurement. This is a basic management principle. We measure performance, effectiveness, quality, time taken to produce, the size of our waist – we measure everything.

We do not measure just for measuring sake. We measure so that we would know where we are now (at the start) and to help us determine what we need (resources, time, energy) to get us where we want to be. Precisely defining all the elements involved makes for better preparation, planning and execution.

So, rather than saying Millie is always late (which is probably an exaggeration), we would define it more precisely by saying that Millie is between 15 to 30 minutes late on Mondays and Fridays. This gives us the template to continue measuring Mille’s punctuality. Has her lateness reduced in time? Increased in time? Become more frequent? What pattern is emerging that we could now factually share with Millie to ask more contextual and direct questions rather than be accusational.

By measuring we also know that we need Millie to work on the 15 to 30 minutes of late time on Mondays and Fridays. Can we work together to close that gap in stages? what is different on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays? She is always early on those days.

Having clear definition provides the canvas for efficient measurement which facilitates effective management.

Management – The Engine of Change

Management is simply the control and organization of something – a project, a lesson, losing weight, building a house, growing an organisation. Management also refers to the people in charge – Supervisors, Managers, Leads, Teachers, Parents – all are management. So, in essence, management refers to the person or people who control and organise. This gives management a dual role. You may be involved in the management of your household at home, while you report to management at work. Either way, taking control of the parts that you have defined and frequently measuring your progress will provide you with valuable information for the management of your resources which will determine the outcome and impact of your results.

Management includes the ability to plan, organize, monitor and direct. The classic phrase: If you cannot manage your self, you cannot manage others is also critical. So often we experience people who have not mastered the management of their own lives and issues attempting to manage others. It works best when you are able to support others from a position of experience and personal learning. With experience under our belt, we can transition from management being a science or discipline to a skill and ultimately an art. When we get to this point we are able to quickly look at a situation, break it down (definition), know how much of what we have to work with (measurement) and what resources we need to control and organise (management) to achieve the change we want.

Change – The Journey Never Ends

It was not until I owned the responsibility for understanding myself and my behaviours that started to understand what I needed to adapt with my approach and style, was I able to eventually achieve change – for myself and others. Did it happen overnight? Hell no?!?! Has it ended? Definitely not. It took me years and I am still learning, defining, measuring, managing and changing.

I am loving the journey and the lessons though. I was not when I started. I struggled, got angry, gave up, started over, best myself up. But then it started to get easier and I started to feel lighter. Today I am pleased with who I am and where I am at. Today I am changed.

Madness – Doing The Same Thing . . .

You know that saying: ‘Madness is doing the same thing and expecting different results’? It is true. If you keep doing what you are doing you will get what you have always gotten – the same thing. So stick a pin. Take some time out and spend some time closely defining what you want to change. Be specific. Ask why and ask why again, as many times as you need to get to the core reason for why you want to change. Track your progress and manage your resources as you progress. Keep the cycle going and you will soon experience some refreshing difference in your personal life and work.

Enjoy your journey!

4 thoughts on “Definition and Change Management – If You Can’t Define It . . .”

  1. Great read Cassandra. For sure I will try to remember it doesn’t happen over night and it’s always work in progress. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you for reading and sharing your feedback, Alicia.
      Remember, nothing happens without action, so take the time to put actions in place.
      Let us know how you are getting along.

      Many thanks,

  2. Hi,

    This was a super interesting article. You made me think with “measuring”. It is true, instead of saying that “Millie is always late”, you measure when she is late and it is only on certain days. I find that this applies not only in business, but also in your personal life. It is all a work in progress.
    Sometimes you can’t change people, they have to want to change, and that makes perfect sense. I totally agree with that, but what if they don’t want to change? You just let it go?

    • Hi Christine,

      Thank you for your kind words, feedback and thoughts.

      You have hit the nail on its head with your example about Millie.
      And yes, these skills and habits apply to life in general.
      If you consider that you take your “self” into business and every other life situation, then working on the “you” makes the most sense.

      Your question is one that I receive almost daily.
      We do not change people.
      They change themselves.
      What we do is create a compelling reason for them to change.
      That is accomplished through our own behaviours and examples.
      We are attracted to success and seeing what we want to do being played out by someone else is one of the biggest motivating factors that I know.

      We really appreciate you stopping by and making a contribution and am pleased that you benefitted.

      Be safe and well.
      Cassandra and The LaMP Team ?


Leave a comment