Change Management

Change Management

Zaheera Soomar shares an article on organizational change and the factors to consider as remote work becomes the norm.

The status quo of how people in organizations work has been rapidly changing over the past couple of years with virtual and remote work becoming more common. Some of this has been driven by new generation talent requirements and cost reduction measures but the recent impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic have forced most, if not all, organizations to move in that direction faster than planned. This rapid transition to a remote working model can be classified as discontinuous change. Discontinuous change can be described as resulting from a rapid shift triggered by major internal problems or external shock (Senior, 2002 cited in By, 2005). In this instance, the external shock would be the Covid-19 pandemic.

While organizations are currently dealing with the immediate impacts of Covid-19 and the discontinuous change, the longer-term repercussions are beginning to kick in. WEF has indicated that the longer-term impacts could be worse than the 2008 economic recession (WEF, 2020). As a result of this and growing pressure on organizations to offer higher levels of safety and precaution at work, organizations are likely to consider continuing their remote based working conditions beyond 2020 (WEF, 2020).

WEFs predictions have proven true with Covid-19 numbers still souring and majority of organizations still catering for remote working conditions. Organizations are now proactively thinking through their strategy around remote work and ways of working for the longer period. This shift to a more deliberate and purposeful way of working is categorized as planned change. Planned change can be described as a more methodical pro-active approach to organizational change (By, 2005). Organizations will need to carefully think through the shift from discontinuous to planned change and what it means for their employees.

Key points include:

  • Discontinuous and planned change
  • Employee’s experience and sensemaking

  • Remote and virtual teams

Read the full article, Organizational change: Factors to consider as remote and flexible work become the norm, on LinkedIn.

Jared Simmons shares key tips for the frustrated change agent to help overcome the most common obstacles faced. 

When you’re new to a role, you’re often hired to change something. You may need to launch a new project, implement a new system, or improve the performance of an existing process.

At some point, you will meet resistance. The team that passive-aggressively ignores your emails; the organization that can’t agree on scope or timeline; the leadership team that asks for more output with no associated investment or compromise.

I’ve been there too. It’s the worst.

It’s draining, it’s completely illogical, and it’s annoying. You’re just trying to solve the problem. You’re just trying to do your job. And whether they get that or not, chances are it’s not you that they’re reacting to–it’s the change you represent.

Resistance that feels personal

I once spent months helping a team establish work processes, metrics, and decision rights for a new platform that would reshape their entire supply chain. Every step I took toward solving the problem was met with active resistance by certain stakeholders. It baffled me. The numbers made sense. We were making progress. I thought I was a nice guy who was pretty easy to work with. I put in extra hours with people who weren’t catching on as quickly. But some people never got on board. And I couldn’t understand why until, in a rare moment of candor between meetings, the two leads for the sales team said to me, “I don’t even think this is the right answer for the customer. I believe what we’re doing today is what’s best for them.”

Then it hit me. They’re not fighting me. They’re fighting change.


Key points include:

  • Change triggers fear
  • Meeting resistance
  • Taking it personally


Read the full article, A Message for the Frustrated Change Agent, on

Tineke Keesmaat blows the cover of a common change management myth. 

Imagine this scenario. Ambitious leader. Countless dollars and hours invested into creating an exciting new strategy. Lots of team members to rally. An awesome launch. And then, wait for it, nothing. Ok, maybe not nothing, but definitely not knock-your-socks off success. Yet another case study to support the research that only about 30% of leaders feel they achieve all their transformation goals.

The excuse: we didn’t invest enough in change management. Again. Or better yet, our “change management team” just didn’t do a good job.

It’s time for leaders to face the hard truth: this mythical “change management” unicorn that will make all of their strategic dreams come true simply does not exist.

In a time of new technology, ever-increasing customer expectations, evolving employee motivators and work habits, change just is. It’s no longer episodic. It’s no longer something that can be scoped, put on a multi-year project plan and then managed. It’s the day-to-day. And, it’s every leaders’ responsibility.

So, how do we rethink change management?


Key points include:

  • Inspire leaders around a clear strategy
  • Isolated change management team
  • Making change part of your DNA


Read the full article, Newsflash: Mythical Change Management Unicorn Doesn’t Exist!, on LinkedIn. 

Amit Bhambi shares a timeless post and three key takeaways for a successful and strategic change management process.

Strategic Change Management is understanding where we are making change then executing. When picking a new restaurant to try out with friends, you have to take some things into consideration to choose the right place. You may want to understand who is coming, where are the coming from, what time we are meeting and what kind of food everyone wants to eat. In managing strategic change we have different considerations to focus on, but if we don’t think things through, we may be left dining alone.

The Pillars of change

There are three core pillars to drive a successful change management process. Often organization will engage in one pillar without a focus on the other two and find themselves in a situation where rework is needed or adoption is a problem.

In a recent example one of our clients engaged in implementing a technology solution prior to understanding their current/ future state process or the impact to the people in the organization. After millions of dollars in investment, teams had to figure out a process that would work around a technology solution that did not meet their needs. This resulted in a sub-optimal process, over investment in technology and large amounts of wasted time from employees.

To engage in sustainable change organizations must focus on three key factors; process, technology and people. This will ensure the way that we do things aligns with the tools we use and the people who will use them.


Key points include:

  • Three pillars of change management
  • Strategic vision
  • Team alignment

Read the full post, Why Strategic Change Management is Like Going Out to a New Restaurant, on

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Richard L. Koppel with MilestoneCVC. Richard has over 35 years of domestic and global experience in management consulting, transformation/change management, and technology operations/partnering. He has lived and worked throughout Europe, Asia, and North America. He maintains a global reputation in technology, enabling innovation for transformational change.

He has significant M&A experience including delivering numerous post-merger integration programs across the financial services, professional services, and entertainment industry sectors. He has held senior roles including Consulting Partner & CTO for PwC (formerly Coopers & Lybrand), Partner & CIO McKinsey & Company, and Sr VP Research & Development IGT (formerly GTECH, Corp).

Richard is available to work in the US, UK, or internationally.

Umbrex is pleased to welcome David Hensley with Hensley Partners. David spent seven years at McKinsey & Company, in London and in the EuroCenter in Brussels. He was a core member of the Organisational Performance Practice. Before McKinsey David worked for Shell in a range of planning and marketing roles in London and Johannesburg. After McKinsey David was the Group Head of Strategy at Carlton Communications (now ITV), and then Executive Director of Credit Suisse’s IT subsidiary. He been a Senior Parter with Towers Perrin, and with leading brand consultancies FutureBrand (then part of McCann) and Lippincott (part of Oliver Wyman).

David has been running his own consulting practice, Hensley Partners, since 2005 working with clients across the UK, Europe, Africa and the Middle East – and occasionally China, India and America. David is happy to collaborate on projects involving corporate branding, corporate strategy, organisational design and change management.

Umbrex is pleased to welcome David Sundquist with D.M. Qwist Consulting. David is an independent consultant with expertise in leading operations/manufacturing/lean transformations for clients within various industries e.g. Battery Production, Automotive and Assembly, Heavy Duty and Consumer Goods. David’s expertise lies within: Lean Manufacturing, Operations Transformations, Performance management, Project Management, Change management, Capability Building.

Caroline Taich shares a  post on change and the skills you need to drive it forward. 

In this blog, we have been exploring the McKinsey model for change. Last week I wrote about conviction as a driver of change.  This week I’m thinking about the skills you need for change.  Here is a big one – the ability to see your unique strengths.

This came up during the wonderful opportunity I had to learn from Councilman Matt Zone.  Councilman Zone serves Ward 15, which includes Cleveland’s Detroit Shoreway neighborhood. Despite its strong roots, the 1960s brought de-industrialization to Detroit Shoreway, and the area began to decline.  Matt Zone’s leadership helped revive the neighborhood, beginning in 2004 with the vision for the Gordon Square Arts District.  Major reinvestment in the community, including 5 major capital projects totaling $30M, led to economic growth and neighborhood beautification that is celebrated here and around the world (read more here).

Councilman Zone stressed that one of the most important keys for change was to focus on Detroit Shoreway’s unique strengths.  But, how do you identify these unique strengths? Here are two of my favorite approaches.

Story-telling approach.  Go talk to people and gather stories of impact.  For example, you can ask others, ‘When have you felt most proud of this neighborhood?’ Ask for a specific story, and then probe on the details that made the experience memorable.

Key points include:

  • Identifying unique strengths
  • Story-telling approach
  • Analytical approach

Read the full post, Identify Unique Strengths to Drive Change, on


In this podcast,Tineke Keesmaat interviews Dr. Elsbeth Johnson who shares her ground-breaking research on how leaders and managers can achieve successful strategic change in their organizations. 

Big, strategic change efforts often fail. Virtually all of them are harder than they need to be. Why is this and what can leaders do to make change stick? 

Leaders must learn to step up in the early stages of an organizational change, and then step back in its later stages. This combination sets up the managers and teams for success when delivering the change.  

Strategic change isn’t a Hollywood film. It’s not fast, dramatic or easy. Instead, it’s about doing the “non-glam” work of putting in place the right elements to set managers and teams up for success.  

A leader’s charisma is not enough to sustain long-term change. While charisma can play an important role – particularly at the start of a change program, too much of it for too long can breed dependency in managers and teams that will inhibit true transformations.   

In the context of Covid-19, leaders may need to focus more on operations and execution in the near term. But, they also need to do more to provide clarity and to align their teams around their vision and priorities.


Key points include:

  • Stepping up and stepping back
  • Sustaining long-term change
  • Aligning teams around vision and priorities


Listen to the podcast, A New Approach For Leaders To Deliver Successful Strategic Change, on 



David Burnie shares a post from his company blog that identifies six change management guidelines designed to help manage change effectively. 

While they say that nothing in life is certain except death and taxes, this proverb is missing another of life’s key inevitabilities: change. As highlighted by the current COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the world, business and organizational change can be both planned and unplanned. Regardless of what instigates change, it must be properly managed for success.

Not everyone enjoys change. In fact, most people do not. There is a variety of psychological, social, environmental, and cultural reasons for why people don’t enjoy change, but that’s a moot point –organizations often need to change. Thus, they must be able to manage the fact that people resist change.

To this end, here are six best-practice guidelines that organizations can follow for effective change management.

Change only what’s needed

Change is important to organizations – it ensures they stay current, continue employing best practices, seize opportunities when they present themselves, and succeed in the competitive landscape. However, one of the most effective ways of managing the change process is by regulating the pace of change,  – changing only what’s required to succeed.

While this might seem counterintuitive and beyond the control of the individuals setting out to manage the change process, it rings true if you consider the underlying message behind this statement.


The remaining points covered include:

  • The single source of the truth
  • Public timelines
  • Change champions


Read the full post, 6 Ways to Manage Change More Effectively with Your Team, on the Burnie Group’s website. 



Anna Engstromer shares a post that identifies what goes wrong with strategy implementation and what needs to be applied to ensure successful adoption.

The Everyday Value of the Right Design in Services

Just because it happens all the time, all over, strategy implementation isn’t easy. It may appear so judging from corporate communication, but it is a special type of team effort that needs energy and effort. The trick is to both carry forth with planned changes and pay attention and adapt.

Change as Part of Life

Change is part of every organization’s life. It is frequent to experience or bear witness of it in any department or work group. It tends to happen through projects and initiatives, and only rarely is the perspective that of the individual working group. Teams and people cope with change, sometimes managing to reflect on their work and craft it into the way they like it, but other times addressing it with less purpose. How people react to change depends a lot on how they are doing. Someone who feels safe, manages their calm, and cares about their work will naturally be more proactive and effective. For many others, change is “dealt with”. The result is a patchwork of intentional and adapted changes, often with great discrepancy between formal and informal roles and structures. This is not necessarily bad. After all, we are creative beings that like to solve problems. But it leaves groups sort of hanging, and I’ve seen it many times that groups either thrive or implode when change is either too fast or not well enough supported. Sadly, the practice to dedicate or engage professional change managers has gone a little bit out of fashion. Fortunately, people with other roles often emerge and act in such roles. I did it many times.


Key points include:

  • Why change seems incoherent
  • The design process
  • How norms play a role


Read the full article, The Value of Continuous Care in Service Design, on


Umbrex is pleased to welcome Wendy Richards with MarTel Advisors. Member of the Board for AMC Natural Drinks, Wendy advises this family-held Spanish corporation on international strategy and leadership development. Beyond the boardroom, she builds team cohesion through executive coaching and change management, serving PE and Venture-backed firms.

An experienced Chief Marketing Officer in the investment industry, Wendy’s clients include Makena Capital Management and Altegris Investments. She led telecoms finance for HSBC in London and the design and roll-out of the first digital mobile networks across Europe for AirTouch/Vodafone based in Brussels. Wendy was honored as Fortune’s “Top 50 Most Powerful Women in Business in Europe”.

A McKinsey and Stanford alumna, she is an avid sailor at home on San Francisco Bay and has sailed her 41-foot sloop across the Med and the Caribbean.

Umbrex is pleased to welcome Ana Freire. Ana Freire has been working as an independent consultant in New York for over three years, supporting Fortune 200 Companies. Ana has been supporting clients tackle change management, operational efficiency and market assessment initiatives. Prior to becoming an independent consultant, Ana worked as a financial analyst at Johnson & Johnson, and then spent almost four years at BCG, having worked on Financial Services, Pharmaceutical and Consumer Goods Industries.


Dan Markovitz shares why COVID-19 provides the opportunity to institute change. 

“You’ve heard it countless times before: 

‘People don’t like change.’

‘Change is hard.’

‘Change activates people’s lizard brain. They’ll fight you or run away.’

‘People don’t mind changing. They don’t like being changed.’

You hear these complaints so often that you’d think they’re inscribed in the 10 Commandments by now. (They’re not, by the way.)

Sure, there’s plenty of truth in those sayings, but the good news is that right now—in the middle of the Covid-19 outbreak—they’re less relevant than ever. If you want to make a change at your organization, now’s the time to do it. 

The habits that people develop are like ruts in a dirt road. Whether you’re driving, biking, or hiking on that road, it’s really tough to get out of the ruts. You get stuck in the well-worn grooves that you or others have formed over the years. Which pant leg do you put on first? Do you brush first and then floss, or floss and then brush? How do you interlace your fingers? Good luck changing any of those habits. 


Except when a flood washes out the road and you (and everyone else) is forced to bushwhack across new territory. Everything is thrown into turmoil, and the old habits no longer apply. When the road is gone, so is the rut.


Read the full article, Covid-19 Is The Best Thing To Happen To Your Company. Seriously., on the Markovitz consulting website. 



Jesse Jacoby shares a timeless post that explains how leaders can overcome overt and covert resistance to change. 


In your role as a leader, you will likely encounter resistance to change at some point from one or more of your own team members. Resistance may come from a variety of sources:

  • An individual with a difficult personality
  • Someone anxious about impending change
  • A person who disagrees with your vision

Resistance is usually demonstrated in one of four ways, each with the potential to create roadblocks for you:

  • Lack of Communication – Leaving you out of the loop in terms of key information or not discussing issues openly
  • Lack of Support – Foot-dragging on key initiatives you try to implement
  • Counterproductive Criticism – Being overly critical of you and your ideas
  • Passive Aggressive Behavior – Agreeing to do something, but then not doing anything

The steps to overcome resistance include:

  • Being alert to the signs of resistance
  • How to gain an understanding of the employee’s perspective
  • Defining  the positive behaviors you want to see, and be clear about your expectations
  • What to do if the resistance becomes habitual


Read the full article, How Leaders Can Manage Team Member Change Resistance, on the Emergent Journal website.