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Building Long Term Change Muscle in Your Organization – Part 1

Why Long Term? In our first blog earlier this year we talked about major business trends. The trends that require significant change and change that is beyond simply the project level. In fact, they required strategic change. Continuous change. A series of projects and programs to stay out in front of the competition.

To achieve that level of change, our last blog addressed leadership’s role in strategic change and how to build their strategic change skills and engagement to form the foundation for this continuous change.

“How do you build…[organizational] change muscle? ….people managers play a critical role….”

Now the question is: how do you build a sustainable change capability in the rest of your organization? We refer to this as building change muscle.

Maybe a better question is: why would we need to build our organization’s muscle?

To best illustrate this, I have an example: a recent PROSCI article[1] talks about the many roles that need to be filled by internal resources.

One of these roles is the “people manager”. In a world of strategic and continuous change, the people managers play a critical role in ensuring change. They have organizational authority, are key communication points, understand the culture, and have built a storehouse of trust with their teams. These internal strengths cannot be outsourced to an external OCM consultant, and the faster managers develop change skills (organizational muscle), the faster change can happen.

The first step is to determine what skills your organization will need to create long term change muscle. Secondly, determine where these skills reside, inside or outside the organization.

Brief note: We believe that internal resources are just as important to change success as external resources. However, they each play distinct roles and bring value to the change process. Getting those right builds sustainable organizational change muscle.


Here are some questions to get you started on determining the best mix to build your organization’s change muscle:

  • What roles and activities are best suited for internal OCM resources?
    • Change agents and change champions
    • SMEs (variety of topics)
    • Sponsors
    • Change leadership
    • Communicating and integration on an organization wide basis
    • Spotting resistance
    • Managing resistance
    • Training support
    • HR support
  • What internal resource characteristics make them best suited for these roles?
    • Organization understanding
    • Organization acceptance and trust
    • Accountability and organizational authority
    • Ability to manage long term sustainability and long-term behaviors
    • Understanding of the current state and in the longer term the Future State vs the Current State
  • What roles and activities are best suited for external resources?
    • OCM project lead
    • Communication and training expertise
    • Coaching
    • Support
    • Education and engagement
    • Feedback
    • Challenge
    • Advisor (SME in OCM)
  • What characteristics make each best suited for their respective role?
    • Objectivity
    • Cutting edge expertise and experience
    • Speed of execution
    • Structure, tools, and best practices
    • Educating of internal resources
    • Structured process and best practices

Now that you have identified what is needed for your organization, what is the next step to bring those skills into your organization? The how!

In our next edition, we will be helping you determine which specific skills your organization needs to build OCM muscle, where these skills can come from (e.g., internal, external sources), and how to acquire them.

We hope you have found this blog post helpful in setting stage to help your organization build the OCM muscle needed for the long term.

If you have any questions, we’d love to hear from you.

[1] Source:  PROSCI article: CLARC: The Role of People Managers in Change Management

Steve MacGill, Consultant Advisory Board Member, The CARA Group

Author Steve MacGill, Consultant Advisory Board Member, The CARA Group

Steve MacGill is an independent management consultant, advisor and freelance writer with over 25 years of experience in Organizational Change Management (OCM) and Leadership. He serves on CARA's Consulting Advisory Board and is a frequent contributor to our Blog on OCM-related topics such as change resiliency, building OCM competency, increasing OCM value, as well as the human side of change.

More posts by Steve MacGill, Consultant Advisory Board Member, The CARA Group