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Equating Change Management and Parenting

Fresh off an amazing international exchange of experiences and ideas regarding content and information management – and delayed overnight by inclement weather – I’ve spent a good number of hours thinking about what seems to be the field’s one truly universal issue: change management.

There are plenty of others, of course, among them the need for tightly-written policies, solid governance, and focused, accessible training and support. But statistically and anecdotally, most seem to agree that success ultimately relies more on modifying organizational behavior than anything else.

The thing about change management is that it has almost everything to do with management and practically nothing to do with systems. I’ve long preached that “it’s psychology, not technology,” and this week I distilled it into a very simple equation:

Change Management = Parenting

For what is raising children if not a constant struggle to modify behavior? At home and in the office, the issue boils down to getting people to do things differently than they do today – and you know as well as I that many otherwise mature individuals can act like children when faced with unpleasant choices.

So what do you do? The same things you do to get your kids to eat their vegetables, do their chores, and (apropos of the season) shovel the driveway: you teach, cajole, and encourage, giving choices wherever possible (but never options you can’t live with), and lavishing generous and public praise whenever and however possible.

This formula is proven in the home, and there’s no reason for it to be any less effective in the office. Just remember that, as with child-rearing, it requires a lot of time and patience, and it can’t be applied the same way to everyone. So unless you’re a CEO, try not to send a senior VP to time out!

Got some juvenile delinquents in your organization? Need someone to talk to about it? Drop me a line and let’s schedule a session!

2 thoughts on “Equating Change Management and Parenting”

  1. A long time ago when my kids were little and I had my dogs in obedience class I remarked on how similar raising small children was to training dogs. Make of that what you will.

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