Champions of change

Naomi Criddle, Manager, People & Change Practice, Management Consulting
Naomi Criddle, Manager, People & Change Practice, Management Consulting

A recent article pondered whether there needed to be a Chief Change Officer (CCO) embedded in organisations to support the monumental amount of change being introduced and to ensure organisations stayed fresh, disruptive, innovative and of course, one step ahead of the competition.

For change management professionals, this one is a no brainer. For a long time we’ve waved the flag, delivered rousing speeches and put steel in our spines to support our crusade to champion the good word around adopting great change management practices. Sometimes it works and organisations adopt a ‘change acceptance’ mindset ensuring they set their employees and customers up for success when it comes to accepting change.

But on the flip side, many don’t, and are finding it difficult to keep up with the disruption in their industry. They are having issues maintaining productivity and positive engagement in their workforce because of their failure to embrace a discipline that is designed to help them achieve their vision and financial goals.

So a CCO is an interesting concept to consider.

We already see that life, as we know it, is fundamentally changing.

We conduct a massive amount of business via our pocket computers (phones and watches). People are embracing the sharing economy and choosing to opt out of owning assets. Choosing to engage in designing their own products instead of relying on the old, tired consumer process of input =output. And smaller, more aggressive start-ups are disrupting some of the more institutionalised areas that we never thought would have to change – finance, education, health and transport.

So with this disruption in mind, does having a CCO make a difference? More importantly, would they genuinely get a ‘seat at the table’ when it came to making strategic decisions about what tactics and direction an organisation chooses to adopt?

Well, everything that an organisation is trying to achieve can be enhanced and supported through a dynamic, change ready and resilient organisation. People are key to the success of an organisation, so it makes sense to build in the structure, the culture and change leadership needed to make sure they are able to transition through multiple changes swiftly and with minimal disruption.

A recent McKinsey article highlights that there are CEOs (nearly half of those who were surveyed) who found it difficult to introduce and manage the delivery of their key strategic objectives once they ascended to the head of the table.

The article suggests that having pragmatic support for these leaders would have made introducing change and achieving their strategic objectives much easier.

This is where having a CCO to provide guidance on how best to introduce and manage those changes would have made a significant difference, and those executives may have enjoyed a less stressful time at the top trying to make their mark.

A CCO can bring in the right approach, mindset, tools, change enablers and structure to ensure that change initiatives being rolled out in an organisation are able to achieve their strategic objectives whether they are financially, technology, environmentally, people or process focused.

A CCO can ensure that change management and change leadership is a constant focus of discussion, embraced as a strategic enabler for an organisation to get ahead, rather than be viewed as the soft and fluffy ‘nice to have’.

Not only that, the CCO can play a significant role in supporting the CEO as they build a happy, energised and engaged workforce who are able to roll with the punches and contribute positively to the success of the organisation.

So, with only positive outcomes and a brighter looking tomorrow within reach, the question needs to change from why should you have a CCO in your organisation, to why don’t you have a CCO.

 

One thought on “Champions of change

  1. Excellent commentary Naomi. As a fellow change management professional, I completely agree with the argument for a CCO equivalent. I once worked in an organisation where the CE had a dedicated DCE of Strategy, People and Culture. Whilst this function also dealt with broader support functions such as HR and Finance, there was a dedicated change management and organisational change function embedded within that unit.

    I think the naming convention actually that helped dispel the idea that change management is just “soft and fluffy”, or just about the “people stuff” when you see it directly linked to the work on organisational strategy. It also gave that role the required seat at the table, and with more “implicit” firepower having also got direct responsibility for critical business functions where there are those who don’t consider change management as a critical business need in its own right.

    I’m definitely interested in tracking how the concept of CCO gets picked up in businesses nationally and internationally, and then that filters throughout the organisational culture and everyday work practices.

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