Is change management an art or a science?

By Sarah

In the varied and diverse field of change management, change practitioners have a wide range of skills and responsibilities that drive organisations towards successful, sustainable change.

 

Therefore, this is an obvious question to ask, right?

 

From recent attendance at an event about Scientific Mindset in Organisational Change I was inspired by Alex Boulting to reflect on where our varied discipline sits on the dichotomy between art and science.

 

So… Change management is an art?

 

Or…Change management is a science?

Prior to the pandemic, change in large, complex public sector organisations was often slow, clunky and expensive. It was common for organisations to run over time and budget, damage morale, and not get the outcomes they needed. During covid, large scale change and transformation happened at pace, and Trueman Change have been conducting research, interviews and evaluations into how this happened.

 Discuss!

In truth, from professional experience, many change practitioners would agree that it is both an art and a science at the same time. Let’s examine this a little further…

 

Change management is an art

 

In one area of our professional capabilities, we have the very fluid and intangible work we do around the very human elements of change. These can often include work in an array of areas that can feel hard to grasp and even harder to change, such as:

·        Leadership

·        Communication

·        Engagement

·        and Culture.

 

They are the pinnacle of most human aspects of the work we do, and the shifting nature of these can present difficulties for organisations. These aspects can feel difficult for people in organisations to describe and express. However, getting a grip on these areas of change management is absolutely essential to the success of change activity and, in fact, many or most change practitioners would argue that, at the core, change is actually all about these human elements.


 

The art of the change practitioner lies in sounding out and gauging the needs of an organisation in these areas, and in encouraging people to be able to externalise and verbalise these elements that often feel buried and hidden within the layers of our complex organisations. This process of gauging and externalising can take many forms and deciding how to approach this involves high levels of intuition and creativity.

 

How difficult can it be to get people to talk about areas they are finding challenging and express their innovative ideas to help meet organisational needs?

 

It’s a real art!

 

As expert change practitioners, we bring complex issues and problems to the surface, making them visible and understood, and then helping people to take steps towards changing things for the better. In these ways, change management is certainly an art!

 

Change management is a science

 

In a whole other area of our professional capabilities, we have the very concrete and tangible work we do around the very logistical and analytical elements of change management. These can often include work in:

·        assessing

·        analysing

·        rigorous planning

·        as well as measuring performance, benefits and outcomes.

 

These are hugely specific and technical disciplines which all inform our work in the change management sphere! We may be analysing organisational structures or demand patterns, we may be investigating process or system flows, or mapping cross-organisational interactions. We do this work using often large scale or bespoke data, even sometimes using modelling or projections which can involve highly complex operational research.

 

What challenges do you face, when trying to analyse your organisation?

 

It’s quite scientific isn’t it!

 

The scientific approach of the change practitioner lies in using data and evidence to understand operations and service delivery, identifying issues and building solutions based on real-world information. This process of analysis and forming solutions involves deep scientific skills of systematically observing, classifying and measuring information. As expert change practitioners, we develop deep understanding of the problems we are solving, helping others to reframe ideas and develop evidence-based solutions. In these ways, change management is certainly a science!

 

So, this led me to think that we should consider our varied discipline of change management as a case in point where we practitioners are at once artists and scientists! We bring both sides of our expertise to our clients to form successful, sustainable change activity that addresses well-evidenced issues using an intuitive yet methodical approach.

 

At Trueman Change, our team is designed to provide expertise around the whole arena of change management, and our team members are highly experienced in all of the above skills, with public and third sector specialisms. We can help your organisation to boost your capabilities in both the artful and scientific aspects of change management!

 

Let our Change Readiness  Assessment do the scientific bit to help you understand how ready for change your organisation is, and then book a free 15-minute consultation with us.

 

If you’d like to find out more about how we help our clients to achieve their goals, visit our case studies on our website at https://truemanchange.co.uk/what-we-do/case-studies and you can find out more about the expertise in our team here: https://truemanchange.co.uk/who-we-are/meet-the-team

By Sarah T | 19th April 2022

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