Managing change in a changing world


Every major industry in the world is changing at a fast rate. The organisations that respond best to the changes in their environments are the ones most likely to survive and to ultimately succeed. As the famous phrase goes, “you need to manage change before it manages you“.

So how can an organisation best prepare itself to take advantage of developments that are driving change in the sports industry and what processes can be put in place to ensure efficient and effective change management?

Through their regular dealings with a variety of different sporting organisations that have gone through significant changes, our partner TSE Consulting has identified some key factors that can help a change management project succeed.

 1. Vision

  • A clear and well-structured vision for an organisation undergoing a change process is of great importance for a number of reasons.
  • It will provide a frame for explaining how all those that will be affected by the change will be better off after the process is complete.
  • It ensures that all the efforts and activities that will be needed to effect change are not seen as an abstract list of incompatible, directionless and time-consuming projects. They will therefore be more readily accepted by everyone involved.
  • It provides motivation for all those that will carry out the change process. Stand-alone activities and decisions (often difficult) are easier to execute when they are viewed as part of something bigger and worthwhile.

 2. Involvement

  • For a change process to be successful, it is vital that everyone that is to be affected is represented within the process.
  • A Steering Group should be the main group driving the change. It is made up of mainly top-level individuals and identifies the areas of change needed and matches them to the strategic direction desired.
  • Working Groups should be directed by and feed into the Steering Group. These are made up of representatives of each of the areas likely to be affected by the change process. They provide feedback to the Steering Group in the form of proposals linked to the changes as well as carry out changes at a local level if implementation is chosen.
  • All sports organisations will have an Executive body, responsible for making the biggest decisions for the direction of the sport. All change proposals that are originated and filtered by the Working Group and Steering Group will be ultimately discussed and decided on by the Executive for implementation.

 3. Communication

  • As humans, we are predisposed to be somewhat wary of changing circumstances as there is always an element of the unknown and unpredictability inherently involved. This is why communication around the change process is so important.
  • Avoid the use of the word ‘change’. It may seem strange given every paragraph you have just read includes the word ‘change’, but it may help to use softer language such as ‘improvements’ or ‘updates’ with certain sensitive audiences.
  • Communicate from the beginning. It is vital that everybody is clear on what the vision that necessitates any changes are. If this is clearly communicated from the outset, buy-in will be easier to obtain and momentum for the process will be easier to generate.
  • Name the process. Any change management process should have an easy-to-remember and inspiring name. This will serve as a constant reminder to the people involved of the bigger picture and what the end result of the process will mean for them.

 4. Results

  • Ultimately, any change process should be about improving some aspect of performance and therefore there should be a clear link between the progress of the change process and some clear, measurable results.
  • Motivate those involved in the process. This is especially valuable where the process is a difficult one and sacrifices are being made. Results help show that sacrifices are worth it.
  • Provide clear milestones for reflection and reassessment. This can include celebrating successes and / or realigning the process if needed.
  • Build momentum for the change process. As results are generated, a natural momentum and feeling of direction is created amongst those involved. This can help improve the speed and efficiency of the process going forward.

The reality is that almost every sports organisation will undergo a process of change in their lifetime if they want to survive. This can be seen most recently at the very top of the sporting pyramid with the IOC who are well underway with the implementation of Agenda 2020 or with FIFA who are just beginning the process of undergoing a major period of reform. To have the best chance of succeeding, it pays to remember that strong, structured management is the most probable source of strong, structured results. The management of change is no different.

This article was originally published by our partner TSE Consulting. To read the original article in full click here.

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