Organizational change management (OCM) has gained visibility, slowly but surely, among those responsible for making change happen, which is to say, just about every manager in just about every business.\n\nIt matters because, as you\u2019re doubtless tired of hearing, the only constant in business is change. That reality bumps up against a competing one: More often than not, business change efforts fail to satisfy, and that\u2019s if they don\u2019t fail entirely.\n\nOCM provides well-defined methods for overcoming change resistance \u2014 the popular if poorly defined root cause of change failing to happen on schedule and on budget. Those methods can, however, leave pitfalls in the shadows if you aren\u2019t fully versed on the following dark secrets of organizational change management.\n\nOCM isn\u2019t \u2018someone else\u2019s problem\u2019\n\nIT delivers a new application. It satisfies requirements and meets the specifications. Your job is done \u2014 it\u2019s up to your so-called \u201cinternal customer\u201d to make productive use of it.\n\nExcept for this: In case you haven\u2019t heard, there\u2019s no such thing as an IT project. Every single project is about intentional business change or what\u2019s the point?\n\nWhich means that if you rely on your internal customers to make the business change happen and they don\u2019t succeed, IT will be left holding the bag, and the blame.\n\nIT needs to make intentional business change a collaboration, not with internal customers but with change partners. As a practical matter this means helping your change partners understand everything necessary for intentional business change to succeed, including OCM, which, starting right now, your business analysts should build into their toolkit.\n\nEmployees don\u2019t just naturally resist change\n\nThe book Who Moved My Cheese was popular in management circles because it made employees a convenient scapegoat when change efforts fail. The problem, it suggested, is that they just naturally resist change, so they make every change an uphill battle.\n\nExcept employees don\u2019t just naturally resist change. If they did, they wouldn\u2019t be carrying smartphones around, riding Bird\u2019s motorized scooters, or, for that matter, reading the Taste section of the local newspaper looking for interesting new restaurants to try.\n\nNot convinced? Here\u2019s a thought experiment: Offer each and every employee a company-paid new car, whatever make and model they want, complete with all fuel, maintenance, and insurance covered for the next five years.\n\nThink your employees would resist that change? Me neither.\n\nThat isn\u2019t the kind of change we\u2019re talking about though, is it? Most employees\u2019 experience with business changes entails invalidating hard-won skills and having to learn new ones; layoffs and disruptive reorganizations; and most likely increased workload besides.\n\nThat\u2019s what employees just naturally resist: changes they expect will be bad for them personally.\n\nOrganizations do just naturally resist change\n\nTypical business changes are defined in terms of modified or wholly new process flows, supported by enhanced or wholly new applications. Install and configure the software, give users a half-day training session, and you\u2019re good to go.\n\nNo, you aren\u2019t.\n\nAn organization is a system of interconnected parts. Envision it as a collection of balls connected by springs. You\u2019re trying to change one of them \u2014 to metaphorically move one of the balls.\n\nBut every other part of the organization \u2014 metrics, facilities, policies, processes, and assigned accountabilities, to name just a few \u2014 all operate based on how the part you\u2019re trying to change currently operates.\n\nChange just it while ignoring its interconnections and it\u2019s like trying to move just one of the balls while leaving the rest alone. The entire rest of the organization will conspire to force the ball \u2014 the element you\u2019re trying to change \u2014 back into alignment with the current state of things.\n\nSuccessful change doesn\u2019t require support from the top\n\nIf you\u2019re trying to change something in the organization, support from the top will certainly help grease the bearings.\n\nBut a lesser-known change guideline is that executives shouldn\u2019t sponsor more than three major change efforts at any one time. Exceed that limit and they\u2019ll dilute their influence too much and won\u2019t accomplish any of them.\n\nWhich means that if support from the top is required for change efforts to succeed, the executive suite will be a change bottleneck, not a facilitator.\n\nOn top of which, change efforts are middle-out at least as often as they\u2019re top-down. They\u2019re too small in scope for an executive to do much more than provide encouragement.\n\nSupport from the top is nice, but not having it is no reason to abandon a change effort. Most successful change is the result of someone deciding to make it happen, and then leading, not from authority but through the arts of persuasion and influence.\n\nSupport is conditional\n\nOne of the tools of the OCM trade is called a Stakeholder Analysis. It assesses individuals and groups from the perspectives of support status (whether they\u2019ll support, resist, or accept the change), reason (why their status is what it is), and impact (the extent to which their support will help or opposition will hinder).\n\nThe reason cuts both ways. Even the most vocal enthusiasts will change their minds (and status) if they conclude the change you have in mind will be unpleasant for one reason or another.\n\nProponents of a change aren't the good guys; opponents aren't the bad guys\n\nIt\u2019s a bad mental habit: You\u2019re either for me or against me. If you\u2019re for me you\u2019re an ally. If not you\u2019re my enemy.\n\nIf you think of your opponents as your enemies, here\u2019s a history lesson: In World War II, it was the Nazis who tried to make change happen. What did we call those on the ground trying to stop them?\n\nThat\u2019s right: The Resistance.\n\nWhen you\u2019re trying to make change happen you do need to deal with those who, for one reason or another, try to prevent it.\n\nDo deal with them. Don\u2019t vilify them. Remember: When the change succeeds, you\u2019ll benefit personally. Your opponents probably won\u2019t. So as you deal with them, show them some respect.\n\nYes, you need it for this change too\n\n\u201cWe don\u2019t need OCM for this change. Everyone is behind it and understands why it\u2019s necessary.\u201d\n\nI\u2019ve heard this time and time again. The speaker has always been wrong.\n\nFrom here on in, think of every change you\u2019re leading as, metaphorically, knee replacement surgery. Even if it\u2019s necessary, and even if you and the body you inhabit will be happier once you\u2019ve fully recuperated, getting from here to there will be unpleasant.\n\nThink of OCM as physical therapy for business changes.\n\nNeither dark nor a secret\n\nOrganizational change is hard. It\u2019s hard the way neurosurgery is hard. It\u2019s also hard the way digging a ditch is hard.\n\nIt\u2019s neurosurgery because, properly thought through and planned, even seemingly simple changes have a lot of moving parts and no shortage of ripple effects change leaders need to identify and plan for.\n\nIt\u2019s ditch digging because stasis is the natural state of an organization. Change stops happening the moment its leaders stop pushing it forward.\n\nOCM is a crucial discipline within the business change toolkit.\n\nFar too crucial to be dogged by misconceptions and false assumptions like those listed here.