Change Management: More than Just a Corporate Buzzword

By Patrick Boyle | Principal, Supply Chain Operations | Chainalytics Over the past two years I have worked closely onsite with a manufacturer of consumer...

By Patrick Boyle | Principal, Supply Chain Operations | Chainalytics

Over the past two years I have worked closely onsite with a manufacturer of consumer durables to merge two former competitors into one manufacturing entity. This project has had complex inner workings–from both supply chain operations and personnel training and reallocation perspectives–and multiple streams of activity. On the project management side of things, it has been challenging, to say the least.

Over 15 years of consulting (and another 15 as a practitioner), project management has been a stalwart tool in my box, used to enable clients to improve their businesses and remain competitive. Throughout many complex, transformative projects, project management has provided me with a clear way to outline tasks, create dependencies, establish timelines and assign resources to complete the set of tasks and activities. Keeping an eye on the plan and “throttling” key events and milestones to stay on task, timeline and budget have become second nature to some extent.

But looking back over the last year, I can see that one of the main areas where we can provide insights is in the area of change management, which is inevitably a big part of what Chainalytics must either lead–or facilitate–on behalf of our clients.

The “Second Discipline” Behind Transformation

Some eight years ago I was introduced to the change management discipline as a whole new concept in managing transformation projects. This “softer side” of change is the realm of the change management experts, who explore and ask: How do I–as a change management practitioner–receive buy-in and support at the senior levels of the organization? How will employees accept change? How do I–as a someone who is engendering change–properly communicate that change, with all its repercussions and complex demands? Will employees be motivated to stay or go?

Over the last 10 years this discipline has become an emerging set of skills all on its own–complete with advanced certification from institutions all over the world. In a recent project I become acquainted with folks who called themselves “change managers” and quickly learned that the change management discipline brings great value and can be really powerful when used in conjunction with good project management.  

I am going to create a series of learnings from my past projects across multiple clients where I will take different aspects of change management and break down a lesson from each one.  There are common elements to successful change programs.  I hope through this series I can share some learnings and get folks facing or in the middle of a transformation project to consider taking a more deliberate approach to the way they are making the Change in their company beyond project management.

I realize there are a lot of “schools of thought” surrounding the topic of transformational change, but my experience has taught me that without a deliberate approach to change, transformation is fraught with trials. There’s a lot to be said for combining change management and project management principles: This approach provides a quantifiable way to make a transformation successful, like metrics that help with employee retention–which is, after all one of the most important parts of managing a “reframed” organization that will run on employee’s institutional, product and process knowledge.

Patrick Boyle, a principal in Chainalytics’ Supply Chain Operations competency, has over 25 years of experience across all of the disciplines of supply chain management, business process redesign and project management and has worked with manufacturing companies across multiple industries. Patrick’s continuing education credits include APICS training, Supply Chain Council’s SCOR Model, PMI PMBOK in Project Management and Prosci Change Management and many general management or human relations courses.

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