Talking about “managing” change

We think the phrases “managing change” or “change management” are misleading – and even potentially problematic. While we can manage a technical fix, we really can’t manage an adaptive change. And using language that implies that we can potentially leads to unrealistic expectations, insufficient preparation, blinders to what’s really going on, and a lack of vigilance.

We need to be clear about which dynamics we can actually manage (fortunately, there are some) – and which we can’t.  And, for those we can’t manage, what can/must we do.  Which ones need to be monitored or tracked.  Which ones take us along for a ride so what we’re really doing is navigating them.  Which ones frequently happen under the radar that we need to bring out into the open, normalize, and address again and again as the process moves forward.

This distinction and clarification will make a difference in whether you engage productively with uncertainty and ongoing change, or how badly it buffets you and your organization while you continue to cling to the idea that you’re somehow going to be able to “manage” it.