‘Honest, guv’nor’ — how to use change management for evil

Benjamin P. Taylor
2 min readJul 21, 2021

Have you ever seen #changemanagement used for evil? To give people a false sense of input into a foregone conclusion?

My session at Australasian Change Days #acdc2021 explores this.

When you are backed into this kind of corner, what wriggle room can you find?

It should be a lot of fun. Change in #complexity demands a dynamic and important tension between ‘tight’ and ‘loose’ which is not a natural tension for people to hold; this workshop will offer a way in, and very practical approaches, that sneak up on those dynamics by opening up about what definitely doesn’t work.

We’ll use the ‘brown contract’ — everything you could do to in working together to end up in the sh*t — as a form of negative brainstorming. Then we’ll look at how we can practice what we preach and see how we can open up to more honest, clarifying, learning relationships likely to shape a more positive culture, and good and clear intent.

What doesn’t work includes:

  • fake consultation with an end in mind already
  • ‘training’ in new ways of working (over experience of doing it)
  • misusing your authority (this is tricky because it looks like it works — but will bite you in the bum)
  • change management as ‘running interference’ or ‘providing covering fire’ to the inexorable implementation of a programme regardless of what the people involved are saying and feeling
  • using power and authority as a threat to obtain ‘compliance’
  • playing the ‘change pantomime’ where what you say and do ignores the undercurrents everyone can see

What other failures of change management can you think of?