Change Management is more Chemical than Physical

There is a growing plethora of consultants in the market catering to a rising number of clientele on the terminology of “Change Management”.  What is interesting is the different expressions that are in use to (ahem!) differentiate themselves such as Leadership Consulting, Coaching, Growth and Transformation Consulting and so on. I have even been “coached” by an expert recently that “My expression of Change Management might be way beyond comprehension” when I encompass Change, Transformation, Innovation, Operation, Knowledge and Learning into a common framework. I am even more amazed when corporations and leading authors for example seriously discuss migrating from one kind of culture into another kind of culture; as though culture is some kind of a mould that can be used akin to cookie cutters.

I have initially learnt the subject of Change Management (formally) from Daryl Conner (Chairman at Conner Partners which was formerly ODR)  and experienced it practicing not only in organizations but in everyday society as well. However, I have been mightily inspired through my entire life from readings on the Indus Valley Civilization and especially Vedic Literature. Fundamentally, I have learnt to accept that the sum is greater than its parts. Not only that, the sum here I refer to is the human being in the context of Change Management; where the change that needs to transpire is  not externally (cosmetic) but internally (cosmic). Therefore, Change doesn’t happen through discrete projects and most definitely not through disjointed diagnostics and related workshops. Change Management is not an event in life, it is a process of life. Working in an organization is just an element of a person’s life!

Let me draw you to a classic example (that has a parallel to the subject of how Change Management is treated) of how we mis-interpret and then perpetrate our severed knowledge for profit; that causes more harm than good for the recipients. Yoga which is now popular globally is a Shastra (Methodology) that traces its origins from Vedic Texts and Times. Today, it is vended as an alternative to physical exercise or a replacement to a gym regime. Nothing can be farther from the truth. Because, the methodology of Yoga was defined in the context of a complete ideal human being that includes the five elements of:

  1. Bhakti Yoga – Humility & Devotion,
  2. Gnana Yoga – Knowledge & Intellect,
  3. Hatha Yoga – Physical Well Being,
  4. Karma Yoga – Action in every day life and
  5. Seeking Energy – Tantra Yoga as Rituals or Mantra Yoga as Hymns and Chants are two distinct paths to seek energy.

Ironically, the starting point for Yoga is the fifth element in the above list where a complete person is one who practices and personifies all the above five categories of the Yoga to represent a complete being.  The logic is very simple as follows:

  1. One seeks energy depending upon one’s station in life.
  2. The energy enables the person to act for the purpose ordained in everyday life.
  3. The physical well being is therefore defined and designed depending upon the vocation of the person.
  4. The person in order to not remain static in one station of life would then seek Knowledge and create the necessary learning to grow.
  5. Finally through devotion / passion, achieve higher purpose / aspiration and grow continuously.

The physicality where one looks good, attractive and devoid of cosmetic effects comes between more fundamental elements that are internal to a human body. Seeking the right kind of energy enables a person aligned to a higher purpose go through life with lesser stress and hurdles. The same can be transponded to the context of Change Management as follows:

  1. An individual or an organization must seek the energy (Invention / Innovation) to address the fundamental economic purpose of their existence.
  2. This energy must enable action in the organization to deliver results (Vision) that takes the organization / individuals through periods of time.
  3. The physicality of an individual or an enterprise must be represented accurately. In other words Performance Management must be visible without the aid of steroids; the part played by intelligence in determining the strength and the gaps vis a vis trends, competition and market.
  4. In order to sustain and grow, there must be a continued pursuance of Knowledge & Learning that enables individuals and organizations to grow Capabilities (Capacity to grow + New Abilities to execute).
  5. Finally, inspiration from all the above must channel an individual / enterprise to seek higher aspirations and grow thereby completing the process of Change / Transformation successfully.

Where Change / Transformation represents the process of conversion of an idea / concept into realization and renewal to a higher purpose.

It is therefore a fallacy that a competency survey there and a culture survey here and a leadership   workshop every now and then is a good enough service of the change management within an organization. Any intervention must make Change Management inherent, deliberate and purposeful for an enterprise as a way of life. It cannot be a fashionable statement and consultants have a responsibility to educate their customers to do the right thing. Corporate Governance must incorporate Change Management as the key strategic enabler for growth and every annual report must be accompanied by a change audit.

Investors need to know the Cause of Performance more than just a representation of Performance. This information can be made possible only when an organization creates a regular change audit to report on:

  • The delta between the Market Trends / Potential and the Organization Performance. correspondingly, Change Management must address the cause of Change Capacity and Ability to execute.
  • The delta between the Customer Expectations and the Organization Performance. correspondingly, Change Management must address the cause of deficiencies in Performance.
  • The delta between the Organization Vision and the Organization Performance. correspondingly, Change Management must address the cause of deficiency in the aspirations of the organization.

The CEO of an enterprise must become answerable to his shareholders and stakeholders on not just the performance but on the causes that create the performance. This information is what will enable the shareholders to truly appreciate the value that their financial capital is creating. Would anybody invest in a business that does not adhere to the set and expected value creation that guarantees a certain financial return as opposed to a lottery?

Change Management like Yoga should become a life practice that is embedded into one’s life early. Because, it is very difficult to undertake Yoga at a later age owing to the discipline it demands. The essence of Yoga is breathing that enables the most difficult of Postures (Asanas), Thinking, Action, Imagination and Inspiration. Change Management similarly demands that organizations and individuals learn to enjoy the discipline of adapting to change and growing in stature rather than groaning in stupor.

PS: Yoga has nothing to do with a particular religion or society. It is a Methodology that has transcended as a survival guide for human beings; where all human beings anywhere on earth are made up of the same flesh and blood.

About Subbu Iyer

Subbu Iyer is an Innovation & Transformation Leader as with 28 years of serving customers globally. He is currently the Chief Designer & Transformer at Energizing Innovation, an enterprise that is being founded to facilitate continuous growth in enterprises and as a consequence create societal wealth. The Radical Shift that this enterprise intends to employ is focusing on the Potential rather than the Performance of a business. He has been a serial entrepreneur and an intrapreneur in his past life, having founded Nihilent Technologies and Nandaki Systems besides being associated in senior leadership roles with firms such as Coopers & Lybrand, Cambridge Technology Partners, Tata Consultancy Services, Wipro Technologies and Steria.
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2 Responses to Change Management is more Chemical than Physical

  1. Abhi says:


    “Seeking Energy – Tantra Ypga as Rituals or Mantra Yoga as Hymns and Chants are two distinct paths to seek energy. ” there is a typo in the word yoga

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