Elevating Change: What is your role in the corporate evolution of change? - Sharon Connolly

Sharon Connolly’s session on ‘Elevating Change’ at the recent ‘2024 Rethink Change’ conference, provided some outer consideration and inner reflection, challenging change practitioners to own their superpowers, think differently, and reset their role in the evolution of change.

The Current State of Change

Sharon laid bare the tumultuous landscape of change management today with examples that had the audience nodding. Job descriptions are muddled, leaving change professionals grappling with roles, accountabilities, and pathways in organizations. Development remains attached to models focused on organizational change, ignoring the surge of project-based change that dominates today. And change fatigue continues to grow; the relentless pace leaves little room for employees to adapt, reflect, or master new practices. Yet, amidst this turmoil, Australia is leading with change practices a decade ahead of the global curve. We heard examples from the audience corroborating this.

Our Future to Shape

Amid this current state, it’s clear that industry-wide actions are needed. However, Sharon offered practical strategies for us to implement immediately and rethink, as individuals, how we can do our part to empower and elevate change. 

  1. Embrace Your Superpowers: Many feel imposter syndrome lurking, or that the role is undervalued, with change management described as just ‘common sense’. But as they say, common sense is not so common. It’s time to own our skills and banish self-doubt. In Sharon’s words “Put your cape on! Elbows out!”. 
  2. Strategic Elevation: Take a holistic approach and get involved from project inception to benefits realisation. Elevate every conversation by extending what you do with the outcomes and impact you’ll achieve. And “be in the room when you’re not in the room” – ensure your presence is felt through those conversations, connections, and artefacts that are preferred, shared, and used. 
  3. Entrepreneurial Mindset: Treat each project as a startup venture. Push the boundaries, leverage or creatively adapt available technology, and focus relentlessly on your audience. Measure success, track benefits, and prepare as if each phase hinges on funding approval. 

Amid audience Q&A, Sharon shared some thoughts. Elevating skills? Join up the skills you have and swim in a lane – carve out your niche and excel. Change positioning? Begin as you intend to operate. Set clear expectations, define your scope, and how you’ll work together upfront. Don’t try to fix anything not in your job description – refocus on your role and outcome to achieve. 

The message for change practitioners? The path we pave today will shape the change practice of tomorrow. It’s time we each take the wheel. 

Written: Rebecca King