Nonprofit organizations around the world are familiar with the idea of gathering together for change. It’s what we do. Our missions are centered on changing something about the world we live in. No matter our specific focus, we share this common characteristic, and it echos throughout all we do. But how often do we think about just the basic idea of change? How does change impact our lives, our organizations, and the way we work together?
There are many people who think about the concept of change all the time. Specifically, they think about how to effectively manage the changes that impact companies and organizations as they grow and evolve. In fact, this is becoming common enough that last May almost 2000 people assembled in Dallas, Texas for the 5th annual Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP) conference (official site). People from as far away as Asia and Australia came together to discuss, share, and learn the newest perspectives on how to help organizations manage the inevitable changes they must face. The Association of Change Management Professionals works to advance the profession of change management, helping more organizations to understand the value a formal ‘change manager’ or ‘change leader’ can provide.
While common in large companies in the financial, oil & gas, and especially the software industry, the nonprofit industry is just starting to have specialized change management roles. As one of the few nonprofit-focused participants attending the ACMP conferences in the last few years, this year I was encouraged to see Lindsey Coates, President of InterAction on one of the key panel discussions. She confirmed my own experiences while discussing how nonprofit organizations often have a lot of support with change management efforts during the strategy phase of their initiatives, but lack support with execution of change management efforts. This trend remains consistent even on technology projects where change management can demonstrate very practical and concrete benefit.
That’s what Heller Consulting would like to be a part of, helping organizations build capacity to do this themselves, and see the value change management can bring to success in their projects. In my work with nonprofit organizations, I have seen firsthand how change management contributes to an initiative’s success and Heller incorporates these principles into all our projects. Organizations often struggle at first to justify additional investment of time and resources to manage the changes that a large CRM initiative brings. As the project progresses, we are able to demonstrate that the same skills that allow them to get support and participation from their constituents can be utilized to get support and buy in for their internal efforts. By the end of the project, our clients recognize how the active change methodology influenced their team’s reactions to the system changes and see the value in the effort. As more nonprofits invest in complex technology, we’re certain there will be additional need for skilled change management professionals with nonprofit-specific experience.