iStock_000077692387_DoubleEveryone knows things change, and in today’s world it seems to come faster than ever before. When change seems to come from every direction and all at once, it can be overwhelming. To survive and be successful, every business must be nimble, constantly look toward the horizon and embrace the changes.

At the same time, human nature is to resist change.  We like to keep things the same, if even for a little while. Human nature is even more evident in established companies with seasoned workforces that don’t always see the need for change or recognize the shifting competitive landscape and evolving needs of customers.

This is where the role of senior leadership comes into play in a way that is often overlooked and taken for granted. Leaders need to establish a culture that embraces and celebrates change, which means helping employees move out of their comfort zones. Leaders also need to recognize that change is disruptive to organizations and people. It is stressful and, if managed poorly, can be paralyzing.

The good news is that changes of all magnitude can be managed by applying sound organizational change management practices. These practices require the leadership team, starting with the chief executive officer, to help employees move out of their comfort zones and safely into their discomfort zones while not pushing them to their panic zones. Think of the zones as concentric circles, with the comfort zone, also known as the status quo, at the center point. The next circle out is the discomfort zone and the third is the panic zone.

The discomfort zone is where growth occurs. It is where disruptive innovation can be discovered and acted upon. If managed well, this zone becomes liberating to employees and provides a forum for personal and professional growth, both of which help the organization grow and realize its potential.

Moving a team into their discomfort zone is an important nuance that takes planning, patience and persuasion – coincidentally many of the elements necessary for a successful ERP implementation. It is imperative that employees are fully engaged from the beginning. A comprehensive organizational readiness and communications plan can provide feedback loops and help identify the gaps, resistance and issues related to new ERP software.

There are a multitude of steps and tools available to manage change but it all starts with leadership. Two of the foremost authors on the subject of leading change, Dan Cohen and John Kotter, provide several key steps that leadership teams must embrace to create a successful organizational change management culture and outcome. Following are six of the keys that have to be planned for at the onset of leading a change management project of any size:

OCM

At Panorama, our organizational change management professionals subscribe to these practices while also providing a comprehensive set of tools and engagement services. We understand that every ERP project or standalone change management and business process improvement project require a dedicated team that can support the initiative from inception to completion.

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