Logistics and Change Management

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Logistics and Change Management

The Business School UK’s Business Development Director, David Ockleton talks about Logistics and Change Management.

Change

Logistics and Change Management, a pretty dry title, we’d all agree on that!  However, take a moment to consider a few things; the whole world is in constant change and logistics is one area where things move rapidly all of the time.  Processes change, people change, tastes and requirements change, technology changes, economies change, EVERYTHING CHANGES!  ALL OF THE TIME!!!

The following is a short digest of my thoughts on Change Management.  They are general observations but certainly apply in the world of Logistics.
So, how do we keep our heads above water as the latest good idea descends on us from on high?

“You can consider change management as a project. It’s as simple as that.”

The answer is Change Management.  It’s about creating order out of confusion.  It’s about starting at the beginning and working things through in an orderly way to an end result that makes things better than they were before.  Change Management is as simple as that – no magic involved.  You can consider change management as a project; it follows the same path from concept to delivery and post project administration.

There are some significant ‘Pooh Traps’ in Change Management; this does not mean it is difficult, it just means you have to think about them and make sure you have a plan.

Seven Factors to Change (in no particular order)

“The lesson here is that Change Management must be considered at a high level.”

Firstly, Change Management is not about installing a new computer system, or new piece of machinery.  Too many organisations think that by moving forward with technology the change will happen.  It won’t.  All that happens is the organisation spends a lot of money and it is never used properly.  There are many things to consider in a Change Management project and all of the aspects must work together in concert if it is to happen as planned.  Often technology is installed without consideration given to the change in processes needed, or training of the staff.  Amazingly, new technology is introduced which let’s say speeds things up, but unless the whole chain is capable of working at this new higher speed, bottlenecks will occur and at best things will be as bad as there were before with no output change; or worse, as output declines or stops!  The lesson here is that Change Management must be considered at a high level, even if the actual change only deals with a part of the operation, its effects are likely to go way beyond.

“Change happens over time, it is not instantaneous. “

Secondly, Change happens over time, it is not instantaneous.  It also requires total commitment to the requirement from start to end.  Organisations too often attempt to implement change and lose interest when things are not happening as quickly as they would like.

“It has to be properly resourced.”

Thirdly, it has to be properly resourced.  This means adequate provision of everything from people to money to office space.  Many Change Management projects fail because there is inadequate funding from the start or money is diverted to other requirements over time.  If there is insufficient resourcing, do not be surprised by the poor outcome.

“Be clear on the end goal.”

Fourthly, be clear on the end goal.  You will be surprised how many organisations start on a change project with woolly or unachievable aspirations as the desired end state.  Not only must the end state be realistic, but also the organisation must have a clear idea of where it is at the start.  You may want to get somewhere in your car, for example, but you would not go on the journey without knowing where you are when you start off!  Even your GPS when it gives directions to get to a destination needs to know where you are!!!  Lastly, on this point when you have an end goal, stick to it!

“People are the KEY.”

Next, Change Management is usually about people.  Whilst we continue to recruit human beings to carry out many of the roles in an organisation, we must recognise that unless we take account of their needs in all respects, we are likely to fail.  It is people who require the greatest effort.  Not only do they need careful training and education, they also have emotional needs to be considered.  People are most content in their own familiar spaces and when somebody comes along and tells them they are about to move the natural reaction is usually to resist.

“Repetition, Repetition, Repetition”

Sixth People need to reassured.   We need reassurance in everything we do.  After a while we have confidence to do things without reassurance, but in the early stages, it has to be constant with some needing more than others.  In a similar way communicating change is a constant activity.  It has to be done all of the time.  The key to communication is “repetition, repetition, repetition” and when you think you are telling people too much, that’s about right!  They need to be told in different and imaginative ways, some are punchy briefs, other ways are soft and fluffy, both work to a point, but try not to do one too much over other otherwise you start to come over as either overbearing or just plain daft!

Resistance works at many levels and usually it does not take too much effort to get people to see the benefits of moving.   There are others who naturally try to block everything, either because they have another agenda, or because it’s in their nature.  These are termed ‘blockers to change’.  Blockers to change require extra effort and eventually most come around to the new way forward, but some don’t and sadly with this group there are two options: go around or drive over.  Either way they are rendered ineffective but they cannot be allowed to disrupt the change process.

Projects rarely, if ever, go entirely to plan.  Change projects are exactly the same; there will always be unforeseen problems in the way.  The key here is to keep the end goal clearly in mind and do not try to deceive people.

“Tell The Truth”!

The next pointer is to TELL THE TRUTH.  People are brought on side in a change project when they have confidence that they are going to a better place.  When they realise they have been told lies, there is only one direction they will go and that is in the wrong direction, as they become alienated, cynical and even hostile.  Never assume the staff to be idiots; they will always spot problems eventually and the longer it takes to go public on a problem, the worse the reaction.  Errors can be forgiven if those affected see it was a genuine mistake and steps are being taken to sort the problem out.  If they are covered up stand by for a big issue!  (Anybody with any doubts about this just take time to consider governments the world over, since time began!  How many have attempted to cover up issues, and how have they fared over time?)

Overall

Change Management is a ‘whole organisation activity’; everybody must go with it.  Some people will be enthusiastic and the project should seek these out and use them as ‘beacons’ to help the process along.  Others are hesitant and need encouragement and a very small minority who block progress must frankly be swept aside!

Study of the academic literature will reveal something called ‘Critical Success Factors’ in business change.  There are many different flavours of lists but broadly they offer the same message as I have attempted to give above.  I offer two points for consideration:  Firstly they do not remain the same over time; people change, interests change.  And secondly, it is a mistake for the management to assume the same critical success factors apply across the organisation:  the Board of Directors are interested in making profit whereas the person sweeping the shop floor wants to be paid every week and get home on time.  Both might be committed to the change process, but they have apparently different drivers.

Overall, Change Management is inevitable in today’s world, yet it cannot be taken lightly.  It is a whole organisation activity – everyone is involved either directly or indirectly, it does not happen by itself.   There must be a clear understanding by everyone of where the project is heading.   It requires top down commitment throughout the duration of the project and above all honesty.

Apart from all of the above, Change Management is easy!

Over to You!

Do you have an experience to share in logics and change management? If you do, please share by leaving a comment in the comments section below. If you have enjoyed our article on Logics and Change Management we would appreciate you sharing. David Ockleton MBA, FCMI, FCILT, MIExpE 2016 ©

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