Managers of change have an especially difficult job. Others have decided on the changes to be made and it is up to the managers to ensure they are implemented effectively, efficiently and professionally - even if they do not understand fully why the changes have been made, or agree with them.
Almost invariably there is resistance to change, so it falls to team leaders and managers to ensure any reluctance is minimised and that the new approach 'sticks'. This means managers need strong interpersonal skills to be able to persuade and influence, cajole and encourage, enthuse and amuse. They need patience while their teams are learning and experimenting; they need to sustain performance while coping with mistakes; and, above all, they need to keep everyone's spirits up until new habits are embedded.
None of this is trivial, and it all takes time. The principles of managing change put forward by John Kotter, Kurt Lewin and Elizabeth Kublar-Ross, for example, look to make the process of transition as easy and trauma free as they can.
Dealing with the problem, not the symptoms
We, as managers and trainers of managers, can agree the principles and processes suggested will help, but it appears that there is a critical skill that is being overlooked.
Change, by its very nature, is only started because the future systems and processes are perceived and forecasted to give better results than the current ways.
However, we rarely see the promotion of creativity as the core skill required to make change happen and then stick. But consider this - as the British Cycling team appreciated a number of years ago - what if, to improve, you need to break down the ways, systems and processes into individual components, to look at these components and to then come up with ways in which you might improve by small incremental gains; it is only by making lots of small improvements that you start to make big improvements.
So, it's true to say that to be able to come up with these different ways, you need to be creative.
To make changes stick, you need the people who are the experts - the people actually doing the work - to be part of the team that comes up with ways that will improve the individual parts. If they don't have the creative skills to be able to do this, the change you are looking for will be doomed. The change may be strategically brilliant but it won't work because of tactical ineptness.
Creativity will change all of this and help people to see HOW they can make the change work and stick.