Can you help us think about how to use organizational change models in child welfare?

If there is one constant in public child welfare, it’s change.¹ Too often, however, the field has operated reactively (instituting a change in response to a crisis) instead of proactively (undertaking a thoughtful planning and assessment process before identifying and implementing a change, or being ahead of the curve in attending to emerging trends). Why? Because the change process is challenging: it is not always straightforward, it can be time-consuming, and it often makes people feel uncomfortable. A change process also requires sufficient structure, leadership attention, and organizational capacity to be effective.

The best illustration of this dynamic comes from the individual level: New Year’s resolutions. According to US News and World Report, approximately 80% of resolutions fail by the second week of February.2 In general, this is because most resolutions reflect outside-in, technical solutions that don’t provide adequate scaffolding for success, e.g., by strengthening a person’s ability to sustain their motivation for the change over time or to handle the stressors that will inevitably arise along the way. Change at the organizational level unfolds similarly: without the necessary leadership, scaffolding, or capacity to manage the discomfort and road blocks that undoubtedly arise during a time of institutional change, initiatives will likely stall or fail altogether.

The field of organizational change management (OCM) helps organizations move through a structured, multi-step process using the application of established methods and frameworks to make a desired change succeed in the near term and remain in the long term. OCM is designed to help organizations prepare, adopt, and implement foundational, operational, or even radical whole-sale changes in culture, policy, procedure, practice, office environment, leadership, and workforce.

Considerations for selecting an organizational change management model

Several organizational change management models are routinely employed across a variety of sectors. While the models may differ, at their core they describe and simplify a change process so that all stakeholders involved understand their role in it, the various steps or stages involved, and when and how success will be achieved. Some models are very complex and provide considerable level of detail regarding every facet of the change process (e.g., Kotter’s 8 step model), while others offer a more simplified model (e.g., Lewin’s 3 stages of change).

The child welfare field is too diverse for a universally applicable model: multiple models exist to match the varying types and needs of organizations, their leaders, and their key stakeholders. The organization seeking change is likely in the best position to determine what model will work well given the nature of the desired change. Because change is unpredictable, the most effective change management model must  be readily understood, may be adapted to fit the needs of the agency, and addresses the specific concerns of the stakeholders involved.

Change management approach selection criteria

Adapted from LaMarsh Global. (2016). A brief history of change management. Chicago, IL: LAMARSH.COM.
http://www.lamarsh.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/A-Brief-History-of-Change-Management-by-Jeanenne-LaMarsh_Dec-3-2015.pdf

Selection criteria

When selecting a change management approach (CMA), organizations should ask, Does this CMA . . .

  1. Integrate well into current processes?
  2. Support our defined business goals?
  3. Include enough detail to be implemented effectively and is it easy to use?
  4. Require ongoing consultant input?
  5. Provide a step-by-step roadmap on how to use the methodology?
  6. Accommodate the assessment of the work culture receiving the change?
  7. Support our defined business goals?
  8. Accommodate the assessment of cross-cultural impact?
  9. Involve outsiders to add perspective to the leadership vision?
  10. Account for delays before change initiatives gain acceptance and generate results?
  11. Alleviate anxiety and encourage participation in change by employing a thorough communication plan?
  12. Facilitate behavior change by aligning compensation systems with the strategic vision?
  13. Identify change resisters through careful performance monitoring?
  14. Sustain the change momentum through constant adjustments and the introduction of new challenges?
  15. Prioritize initiatives instead of trying to change everything at once?
  16. Engage top management to execute the change?
  17. Include elements that are measurable in terms of time and cost?

Other questions include:

  1. Is the cost to implement this CMA affordable?
  2. Is this CMA effective for individual change?

The following describes some of the most frequently used organizational change management models along with the core elements, benefits, and limitations of each.

Accelerating Implementation Methodology (AIM)

http://www.imaworldwide.com/aim-change-management-methodology-description

AIM is a flexible framework for managing organizational changes by focusing on the human-side of new projects.

Steps and elements:

  • Define the change
  • Build agent capacity
  • Assess the climate
  • Generate sponsorship
  • Determine the change approach
  • Develop target readiness
  • Build communication plan
  • Develop reinforcement strategy
  • Create cultural fit
  • Prioritize action

Benefits:

  • Can be applied to any kind of initiative or project

Limitations:

  • Numerous, complex steps
  • Proprietary
  • Business-oriented

ADKAR Model

https://www.prosci.com/adkar/adkar-model

This model provides clear goals and outcomes for change management activities using a simple, easy-to-use framework for everyone in an organization to think about change.

Steps and elements:

  • Awareness
  • Desire
  • Knowledge
  • Ability
  • Reinforcement

Benefits:

  • Rewards individual change within an organizational change process

Limitations:

  • Can be cumbersome for larger organizations
  • More of an individual change model

Bridges Transition ModelChange Acceleration Process (General Electric)

https://wmbridges.com/what-is-transition

This model focuses on the adjustment people make when going through a transition.

Steps and elements:

  • Endings/letting go
  • Neutral zone
  • New beginnings

Benefits:

  • Includes a step-by-step guide to foster emotional acceptance of change

Limitations:

  • Not a framework for operational change

Change Acceleration Process (General Electric)

http://massleague.org/Calendar/LeagueEvents/ClinicalQualityConference/2013/C2ManagingforChange.pdf

The model illustrates the key processes involved in facilitating effective change by identifying sources of resistance and creating influencing strategies to overcome the resistance.

Steps and elements:

  • Creating a shared need
  • Shaping a vision
  • Mobilizing commitment
  • Making change last
  • Monitoring progress
  • Changing systems & structures
  • Leading change

Benefits:

  • Reinforces benefits of paying attention to the human and technical aspects of change

Limitations:

  • Framed using  the lens of securing a competitive advantage over other companies

Change Leader’s Roadmap

http://www.beingfirst.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/AR_PDF_AwakeAtTheWheel_v2_091123.pdf

This model reflects the change leadership needed for transformational organizational change.

Steps and elements:

  • Prepare to lead the change
  • Create organizational vision, commitment, and capability
  • Assess the situation to determine design requirements
  • Design the desired state
  • Analyze the impact
  • Plan and organize for implementation
  • Implement the change
  • Celebrate and integrate the new state
  • Learn and course correct

Benefits:

  • Moves beyond developmental and transitional change to transformational change and related leadership behaviors

Limitations:

  • Only focused on skills and tasks of a leader

Deming Cycle

https://deming.org/explore/p-d-s-a

An ongoing process consisting of a logical sequence of four repetitive steps for continuous quality improvement & learning.

Steps and elements:

  • Plan
  • Do
  • Study
  • Act

Benefits:

  • Structured framework for organizational change

Limitations:

  • No process to address emotional resistance or opposition forces

Development, Implementation, and Assessment Approach (PII )

http://ncwwi.org/files/Change_Implementation/The_Development_Implementation_and_Assessment_Approach.pdf

The approach involves activities that can be organized within four implementation stages: exploration, installation, initial implementation, and full implementation.

Steps and elements:

  • Identify & Understand Population
  • Develop Theory of Change
  • Assess & Select Innovation
  • Implementation Supports Overview
  • Plan for Implementation
  • Develop or Adapt Innovation
  • Develop or Adapt Supports
  • Initial Implementation & Testing
  • Monitor & Assess the Innovation
  • Plan for Sustaining the Innovation

Benefits:

  • Focused on innovation implementation in social work settings

Limitations:

  • Not focused on full-scale organizational change

EASIER Model

Book: How to Manage Organizational Change

This six-step model outlines the process for managing organizational change.

Steps and elements:

  • Envision
  • Activate
  • Support
  • Implement
  • Ensure
  • Recognize

Benefits:

  • Checklist of operational and emotional elements of organizational change

Limitations:

  • Relies on leadership effectiveness and response

Kotter’s 8 Step Change Model

https://www.kotterinternational.com/8-steps-process-for-leading-change/  

This model encourages new behaviors for successful organizational change and is widely accepted across many industries as an effective model for implementing organizational change.

Steps and elements:

  • Create a sense of urgency
  • Build a guiding coalition
  • Form a strategic vision & initiatives
  • Enlist a volunteer army
  • Enable action by removing barriers
  • Generate short-term wins
  • Sustain acceleration
  • Institute change

Benefits:

  • Provides an 8-step, actionable checklist

Limitations:

  • Lacks measurement processes
  • Time consuming
  • No steps can be skipped

LaMarsh Managed Change Model

http://www.lamarsh.com/about/successful-change-management/

This model focuses on the identification, analysis, and mitigation of resistance.

Steps and elements:

  • Identify the change
  • Prepare the change
  • Implement the change
  • Sustain performance

Benefits:

  • A wide array of tools to support the change process

Limitations:

  • Model and all related tools are proprietary and costly

Lewin’s 3 Stages of Change

http://www.nwacademy.nhs.uk/sites/default/files/86_1722011_lewin_s_change_management_model.pdf

This model involves raising awareness that change is necessary; moving toward a new, desired level of behavior; and solidifying that new behavior as the norm.

Steps and elements:

  • Freeze
  • Unfreeze
  • Refreeze

Benefits:

  • Simple steps to combat emotional resistance and opposition

Limitations:

  • No mechanism for addressing ongoing change

McKinsey 7S Framework

https://www.strategicmanagementinsight.com/tools/mckinsey-7s-model-framework.html

This model focuses on internal/structural aspects that need to be aligned for successful, holistic change in an organization.

Steps and elements:

  • Strategy
  • Structure
  • Systems
  • Style
  • Staff
  • Skills
  • Shared Values

Benefits:

  • Provides guidance and focuses on the whole organization

Limitations:

  • Very complex
  • All factors are interrelated, such that failure in one part becomes failure in all

NIRN Stages of Implementation

http://implementation.fpg.unc.edu/sites/implementation.fpg.unc.edu/files/NIRN-StagesOfImplementationAnalysisWhereAreWe.pdf

Stages can be used to better understand stage-based activities to improve implementation of EBPs or evidence-informed innovations.

Steps and elements:

  • Exploration
  • Installation
  • Initial Implementation
  • Full Implementation

Benefits:

  • Tool can be used to plan for or assess status of current stage activities related to intervention implementation

Limitations:

  • Not focused on full-scale organizational change

Switch Framework

http://heathbrothers.com/download/switch-framework.pdf

Techniques/examples for the interconnected elements of motivating people to act differently in support of a change.

Steps and elements:

  • Direct the rider
  • Motivate the elephant
  • Shape the path

Benefits:

  • Good overview/stories for modeling change

Limitations:

  • No framework for operational change
  • More of an individual change model

Change management in the child welfare context

Additional resources provided below reflect change management processes within the unique context of public child welfare. While the items below do not specifically elevate one change management model over another, many of the key steps and strategies for implementing and sustaining change mirror elements of several change management models in the section above.

American Public Human Services Association, Change Management Guidance (2010)
This change management document provides guidance for child welfare agencies seeking to implement and maintain change.

James Bell Associates and ICF International, The Use of Implementation Projects to Support Change in Child Welfare (2014)
This brief describes the implementation projects of several child welfare jurisdictions, providing an overview of: approaches and findings related to assessing change in implementation capacity; project evaluations and outcomes; and keys to successful implementation.

National Child Welfare Workforce Institute, Change & the Roles People Play (2016)
This microlearning discusses how stakeholders embrace change at different stages of a change initiative and offers strategies for engagement.

National Child Welfare Workforce Institute, Child Welfare Means Change Management (2014)
This webinar highlights lessons regarding change management in child welfare learned by participants in the NCWWI’s Leadership Academy for Middle Managers.

National Technical Assistance and Evaluation Center for Systems of Care, Systems of Care Leadership Series: Gaining Buy-In From the Front Line During Times of Change (2011)
This document examines the role of front-line staff in implementing comprehensive systems and organizational change and outlines key steps and strategies for engaging the front line during times of change.

 

1 National Child Welfare Workforce Institute. (2014). Child welfare means change management: Stories & lessons learned from LAMM alumni (Webinar May 28, 2014). Retrieved from http://ncwwi.org/index.php/link/110-making-a-difference-3-child-welfare-means-change-management-stories-lessons-learned-from-lamm-alumni
2 U.S. News & World Report. (2015). Why 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail. Retrieved from: http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/articles/2015-12-29/why-80-percent-of-new-years-resolutions-fail

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