Change is Good

Managing the Change Caused by COVID-19 Part 2

“...[change] -- for lack of a better word -- is good."

By Donald Pagel, CEO of Pagel Consulting Group, LLC

In the previous post, we discussed the ADKAR model of understanding your organization’s capacity for managing change.  The “K” stands for Knowledge, or the “How To” part of the process.

What Has Changed?

Because the current crisis has inflicted such massive change in all organizations, it is important to break down the process to a tactical focus and then apply the OCM principles to each area.  A “one size fits all” approach, or applying one method or process to all areas could be dangerous and leave customers and employees frustrated.  Additionally, it is important to commit to a practice of long-term change management so both constituents feel confidence that you will react decisively to future situations (let’s hope they aren’t this bad again).

If you are a smaller organization, you could assemble one team to work on this.  Larger organizations may want to create a central group with representatives from different departments or divisions.

The good news is that if this had happened 20 years ago, before the Digital Revolution, it would have been much more difficult.  Because most businesses today have switched to VOIP telephony and email for internal and external communications, wrapping remote processes and policies around these is less intrusive.  Organizations that effectively use collaborative technologies like Slake or Microsoft Teams, will also find a smoother transition. 

Considerations for areas of focus could include:

  • External (considering the Customer and Vendor view)
    • Customer Communication
    • Product Impacts
      • Product Demonstrations
      • Remote Administration (software)
      • Physical Product Distribution
    • Delivery Impacts
    • Customer Support
    • Marketing Impacts
      • Webinars
      • Social Media
      • Mass Marketing
      • Thought Leadership
    • Analytics
  • Internal
    • Employee Communication
    • HR Impacts
      • Time and Payroll Management
      • Remote Employee Engagement
    • Remote Technology
      • Software
      • Hardware Requirements
      • Internet Requirements
    • Business Development Processes
    • Product Impacts
      • Product Demonstrations
      • Remote Administration (software)
      • Physical Product Distribution
    • Operations Impacts
    • Mail & Package Distribution and Enablement
    • Meeting Management
    • Leadership and Management Impacts
    • Reporting
    • Analytics

The above list is very minimalistic.  For the sake of brevity, I won’t go into detail for each of the above areas but you should give serious thought to the impacts in each area.  Consider not only the physical changes but also emotional and potential perceptual changes to each area. If you want both your customers, vendors and employees to feel that you care, be transparent with your planning and request feedback to help make sure you are capturing critical needs. Consider Customer (CAB) and Employee (EAB) Advisory Boards.


Your team should assemble quickly to develop initial lists of what areas have been impacted.  After the internal team has met, start early to solicit feedback from external stakeholders to ensure you have included all impacted areas. Ensure that all of this is documented in a central and accessible place so all stakeholders can participate easily.


With the information provided from the Assessments, identify risks, rewards and prioritization for each area you have identified in your assessment. Establish a vision of the future and a “utopian” culture you want to see.  

Don’t get bogged down in this process.  Don’t let perfection be the enemy of good.  Identify quick wins and quickly move to the Development and Execution phases.


Quickly develop a communications plan first.  This is critical.  Be open and transparent with all stakeholders.  None of them expect perfection in crisis situations and in fact appreciate humility and honesty in communications.

Develop targeted action plans for each of the areas of your assessment with both tasks and timelines.  These timelines should include the Reinforcement (R in ADKAR)

Get approval for high-risk plans from senior management.  Senior management should give a great deal of latitude to the team to make changes quickly and not get bogged down in overly-controlled approval processes.


Even though this outline seems like a waterfall technique, you should be extremely flexible/agile in the overall execution phase(s).  Don’t wait to execute early or urgent change needs or early wins that can help the overall needs of the organization as well as improve adoption.

Reevaluate each aspect of the plan as you start to execute.  Don’t worry about mistakes and be humble in your approach to correcting actions.  Communicate, communicate, communicate.


Here is where your commitment to OCM comes in.  Now that plans are in place and being executed, you need to determine what parts of the plans are temporary and what will be long-term.  Again, don’t assume that everything will go back to normal.  I think we are very much in a “new normal” time so only identify temporary items as “no brainers”.  All else could be long-term.  Reevaluate regularly.  The C-suite should stay very engaged and regularly communicate to all stakeholders and support the plans and the OCM team(s).


In times of crisis, true leaders shine and poor leaders get exposed.  Good leadership embodies decisiveness, delegation, communication, honesty and empathy. Is it easier to push a rope in a straight line or pull a rope in a straight line?  Your job is to create the environment that allows people to WANT to follow you.  My father always told me that, “you lead people and manage things”. 

Even in large organizations, with effective communication and leadership, getting from the Assess phase to the Execution phase could take as little as a few days to a week.

You can’t push people into change.  You have to lead them. Adopting good OCM practices now, will give you a nimble organization in the future!

Modifying the immortal words of Gordon Gekko,

“…[change] — for lack of a better word — is good.

[Change] is right.

[Change] works.

[Change] clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.

[Change], in all of its forms — … — has marked the upward surge of mankind.”

Managing the Change Caused by COVID-19 – Part 1

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