Change management is a wonderfully euphemistic term in the general management business community for "a bunch of people (but not me) are going to pay a price for what's getting ready to happen in this company." Change managers use a variety of terms to disguise the stark reality that heads will roll. Change management is a cheap trick of the "transformational wizards" of Wall Street and beyond.
Change is a word that you need to take as a warning. It means the leader is either unclear about his or her vision or is unwilling to state it clearly. The subjects of the change, who are often far too trusting or at risk of challenging, will eventually learn whether the change was for good or for bad.
It is in the world of politics too. U.S. President Barack Obama's 2008 campaign slogan of "Change We Can Believe In" is a classic example of selling the change by infusing it with sleight of hand optimism. Consider why is the post modifier of "We Can Believe In" needed? The implication is that most change isn't something that can be believed in—right! Candidate Obama successfully parlayed a negative into a positive and won an election playing on ill-defined hope and a public well aware that change is typically bad for them ... except, of course, in this case they thought it would be different.
In 2012, President Obama did it again with his campaign slogan of "Forward." Forward sounds so positive, upbeat, and progressive ... but to where?
Regardless of the venue, leaders who market "change management" are as laughable as the emperor's new wardrobe. The "beauty" of change is that it offers no measurable result, direction, or accountability. Change can be negative or positive. It just means something will be different, period. Well, of course, something will be different. Don't settle with change—clarify what it means. See where it is leading. Know the direction. Understand the destination.
In reality, expect decline unless luck prevails! Change is blind strategy with an escape clause for the change agent but rarely for the recipients of change.
Change in these settings is something that the agent of change is typically doing to someone else rather than for them. Obama is no different, in this context, from a business executive proposing change. Translation: Change = everyone else is going to accommodate what the change agent is saying and that person is just trying to figure out a way to break the bad news to you but doesn't have the guts to speak plainly.
The Power Option: Growth
Change is risky business. Few of us like change. Yet, change, like breathing, is a fact of life.
Instead of change, what if the standard is growth? Now the business person (or President) is focused in an upward direction and has a measurable result instead of an ill-defined, open-ended nothing strategy that's likely to result in decay rather than in growth. Decay is easy. Growth requires rolling up one's sleeves, yanking out the weeds, and nourishing what's discerned and defined as desirable.
Growth can include profits, behavior, people, relationships, and morale. Change, even "Change We Can Believe In," is ultimately unaccountable babble left to the discretion of the leader making the change and an empty vision. It may sound inspiring, but it is merely sleight of hand illusion.
Growth requires a proactive partnership of time, money, talent, and a host of other factors coming together to a common cause. Growth is still a broad term, that like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. It does, however, call forth cooperation, effort, and something of a more positive and productive nature.
Here's a simple example. Pretend your boss walks in and says, "Let's talk about a change I'm making to your paycheck." What's your response? You're sure a pay cut is coming. You anticipate that your job or territory is getting ready to be reduced or eliminated. Am I right?
Now let's imagine your boss walks in this time and says, "Let's talk about a growth I'm making to your paycheck." Growth has replaced change. Now assuming your pay stub doesn't have a tumor, in the second example you're getting engaged and excited because your boss is communicating that plans are in process for a raise and an explanation for your coming reward. Economic growth and development trumps economic change (and decay).
The mere act of replacing one word makes all the difference. Change is an implied downer. Growth is an exciter.
My suggestion for you: only use the word change when describing what's in your pocket after buying your Chick-fil-A lunch any day of the week except Sunday. Change is apropos when reporting on the past. It is not a strategy for the future. Be in the business of growth and you will more likely be on-purpose.