BP’s Fiona MacLeod on Change Management

It’s always reassuring to see outstanding business executives who understand the importance of the human side of change.  All too often, organization leaders feel so much pressure to get the technical components of an initiative in place, they forget to plan for and manage the human dynamics.

Fiona MacLeod, president of BP’s Convenience Retail USA & Latin America, spoke about these issues recently at Wharton’s Leadership Conference on the challenges of event driven change (http://tinyurl.com/mewr9p). She said that many change management programs fail because:

  • New leaders are often more concerned with “making a big splash” than with following through on a long-term plan to monitor change and keep the program on track.
  • Organizations often revert to old habits because employees do not understand why change is needed, or they lack the tools and training required to sustain the new approach.
  • Nothing changes because ownership of the change rests with an external team or consultants, rather than with the leaders responsible for running the business.

MacLeod also urged managers to attend to the “soft” side of change by putting in place programs to fully engage leaders and employees in the process of creating change.  According to MacLeod, this not only includes articulating the business case and vision of the future, it also includes gaining the commitment of leaders who are ultimately responsible for ensuring the change is sustainable.

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