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MANAGING COMPLEX CHANGE
Welcome to my web site, and thank you for reading my recent article in the ACES Terrier Magazine.
Feel free to browse around my web site and if you feel that I can help you in any way, supporting you to develop or implement your asset strategy then please do get in touch.
Chris Brain Associates specialises in support to the public sector in strategic asset management, asset valuation and organisational efficiency, both through the provision 0f consultancy support and training.
If you have read my Terrier article then you will see I hold the view that an asset strategy requires a change strategy. Too often this is overlooked, and that is why organisations often experience failures, the strategy falters or simply does not get the buy in. I can help you to overcome those issues, working alongside you to help people change, so that the organisation can change.
I referred to a diagram in my article. It sets out the five key elements of change, and the likely consequences if one of these elements is missing. Credit goes to Dr. Mary Lippitt and Timothy Knoster who developed this model for managing complex change.
Unfortunately the authors of the diagram have refused permission for me to reproduce it here, which is a shame as I am certain that you would get real value from it. It would help you as public sector organisations in making better use of public money, which I would have hoped the authors would have been in favour of. Sadly not.
If you do an internet search I am certain that you be able to find a copy of the diagram somewhere. Indeed, others have taken the original concept and adapted it over the years.
I hope you find this useful in diagnosing what is holding you back from progressing your asset strategy. After all, an asset strategy is a change strategy.
Lippiat & Knoster identify 5 critical elements of bringing about complex change, and only when all five are in place and operating properly can change happen. I have witnessed this myself in much of the property consultancy support I have provided to the public sector over many years.
So what, in my experience, are the main areas that go wrong in terms of attempting to deliver change through strategic asset management?
Vision: There can often be no real strategic direction, with sometimes perfunctory links to corporate objectives and priorities. This means there is no real substance to any strategy that is developed, and this affects buy-in across the organisation. To solve this problem you need proper and meaningful engagement with all parts of the organisation. Without a clear vision, confusion follows.
Skills: Reduced resources can of course be an issue, but technical and professional skills can be bought in. The key skills that I often see missing are those around management consultancy, commercialism, business case development, business planning and stakeholder engagement. Asset managers are likely to well developed professional skills, but sometimes lack the capability to manage things that were never part of the professional pathways. Without the necessary skills, then anxiety will be created as everything that everyone wants to happen, just simply cannot happen.
Incentives: If you want to bring about change then people have to need to want to change. There must be buy-in. And for there to be buy-in, there needs to be an incentive for people to want to join in that change. Incentives can be financial, but this is rarely the case in strategic asset management. In fact, sometimes people try to introduce financial incentives that can often falter, as they can create unintended consequences. To be effective incentives need to run much deeper that simply financial. You need to get down into the emotional intelligence of people around the organisation. They need to see what difference strategic asset management will make to their world, their needs and their desired outcomes. If strategic asset management can be demonstrated to deliver, you will have created all the incentive that you need. Where there is an absence of incentive there is room for resistance.
Resources: I have seen many organisations that under resource their strategic asset management. Often it is down to failure to appreciate the level of resourcing that is required to bring about change. This leads to a failure to deliver the strategy, deadlines come and go and frustration sets in. This undermines strategic asset management, and can undo all the good work undertaken to get to where you were.
Action Plan: And then the final area where strategic asset management can break down, is the absence of a clear action plan for the change you desire. I have seen this many time. People can often adopt an action plan, but it lacks clarity, or it lacks defined timescales for delivery. Sometimes the Action Plan might not be prioritised, and the organisation is trying to achieve too much too soon, or too much at the same time. When there is an absence of a robust action plan there will be many false starts, and you will struggle to make progress, and change will not happen.
So there you have it. My assessment of the application of the Lippiat & Knoster model of complex change to strategic asset management.
Perhaps you recognise areas where you have gone wrong in the past. Perhaps you will, after reading this, reflect on those areas and hopefully start to build a picture of where you could amend your approach going forward.
I have developed a model for preparing an asset management strategy that tackles these five areas head on, giving you a fighting chance of success.
If you would like to discuss how I might be able to help you develop strategic asset management in your organisation then please do get in touch.
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