The Old Ways of Doing Change Management Won’t Work in the New Normal

business change change manager covid 19 leadership leading change mindset news strategy successful change Oct 20, 2020
Large bird stood in shallow water with city buildings in the background
Many of the old change management approaches need a new twist to be truly effective in such a fast-changing world. Here are three old ways of thinking that change managers must avoid if they want their change to stick.


I don’t need to say that the world has changed. You know it, I know it, even the ubiquitous monk living in a cave knows it. 

With so much change comes excitement, but also anxiety. Why? Because we simply can’t rely on the old ways anymore if we want to find business solutions that stick.

The old ways of teaching change management preached that we should put change on a stable platform – but that’s obviously not possible right now.

A new approach for a world that is constantly shifting is needed. To do that, we need to understand why the old ways no longer work.


Three old change management approaches to avoid if you want change to stick:


mountain goat jumping


1. Obsessing about the solution 

This is a difficult one for me because I love problem solving and as soon as I hear a problem, my mind sees a matrix of the different solutions. 

Jumping to the solution is not the way to go. We can’t make assumptions without first asking, “What is the core problem that is driving this change? What is that underlying root cause?” 

For example, a company having a problem with turnover of staff could jump to the assumption that the cause is about recognition and reward.

But it might not be about that at all. 

  • It might be that they feel pulled to an industry or job they’re feel aligned to
  • It might be that they feel like their purpose is not about being a project manager for your company.
  • It might be that their purpose is to generate big change somewhere else

As change managers we have to stop making assumptions about why something's a problem and the best way to fix it. Instead we have to go back and deeply understand why the problem is there in the first place.


several large stone statues in a row


2. Choosing a narrow co-creation team

The old way of doing change management would involve very senior leaders in a room making decisions about what needs to change and how.

Then things improved slightly and people who had already done the exact thing required began being invited into the room too. 

The complexity and uniqueness of the new changes needed in businesses now means we simply cannot rely on “business as usual”.

Things are moving so fast that businesses can’t afford to ignore diverse perspectives available to them, from the grassroots right through to senior leaders.

Needs are changing so quickly that businesses can’t afford to lock the door and have secret conversations about solutions without the input of their actual customers.

In this modern, flexible world we need to co-create solutions with a different group of people.


dandelion with one seed left on it


3. Thinking the first solution is THE solution

As change pros, however thoughtful we've been about understanding the causes of a problem before we jumped in to solve it, we’re probably wrong on both counts.

Solutions in the new normal need to be agile, flexible, innovative and iterative. Spending loads of time coming up with a “perfect” solution just doesn’t cut it.

Set the expectation early that:

  • the solution is likely to change
  • there will be significant problems
  • resilience and persistence will be needed
  • constant learning is required

How do you get people to sign-up for a crazy ride? By co-creating such a vivid and exciting vision of the future that it’s impossible for you all not to want to work towards it. 


Are you a change manager who wants to know exactly how to achieve successful, sustainable change in a fast-moving world?  My upcoming coaching and training series, Making Change Stick, will help you finish 2020 strong and get ready to make 2021 the year your change projects (and career) soar. Sign up to join us for what promises to be a very special week unlike anything you’ve experienced in the change world before! 


Stay connected with news and updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from Oakwood.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

Find Out More