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What’s the best way of managing change?

In the past, leaders decided what to change and they developed a strategy and plan to get the job done. They established a game plan.

Today, some people persist with this approach. However, with the rise of agile methodologies, this ‘command-and-control’ approach is falling out of favour.

And it’s being replaced by an emergent approach.

The Cynefin Framework

This is a framework that helps you understand the level of complexity in different organisations. Many modern organisations are complex – they reflect the VUCA environment of the modern world. Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous.

Because complex organisations embody VUCA, they don’t respond well to command-and-control approaches to change management. They respond better to emergent approaches.

What emerges?

You don’t begin with plans. Instead, begin with assessments. Ask questions. Find out what’s going on and what you’re working with. Then make tentative plans. Take steps along the change process and then evaluate and revise your plans and strategies. Respond to what’s happening – don’t try to control it.

So what does this mean for the change manager?

The skills of managing change

It means the key skill required of the change manager is knowing how to find out information so you can work out what to do. Being so attuned to the most significant parts of the environment that a workable solution to the problem emerges from the context itself. What to do next becomes apparent from the data and what they have learned about the situation they face.

Peter Senge talks about the ‘learning organisation’. This is what he means. The learning organisation isn’t about getting training happening. It’s about learning what’s emerging from the context and being responsive to it.

Accurate data

Emergent approaches require data. Without data you don’t know what’s emerging. The Change Gym provides accurate, reliable data about your readiness for change. You need to see where your change strengths and weaknesses are so you can take them into account when you make your change plans.

So talk to us today about a change readiness assessment for your business.

Dr Steve Barlow

Steve Barlow
Author: Steve Barlow

Steve heads up The Change Gym. He is a change readiness specialist. You can contact him at