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Change Management

Few would deny that Sub-Sahara is undergoing rapid and far-reaching changes, or that there is any shortage of views on how the continent should adapt.


What is in short supply is sober, practical consideration of how to bring about such changes without needless conflict.


Facts, logic and laws


The difficulty in trying to change attitudes is that they are shaped by pre-existing concepts and perceptions. They are rarely changed by facts and logic alone, and nor are they readily influenced by laws, rules or taxes.


Information which is not consistent with concepts that are already fixed in our minds is either ignored or rejected as untrue or irrational.


For example, many people are far more afraid of sharks than of, say, cars. This is despite the fact that the number of fatal shark attacks each year is a microscopic fraction of the number of people killed by cars while travelling to and from the beach. To change this disproportionate fear of sharks, it is first necessary to change how people perceive sharks.


The frequent reliance exclusively on rules to change behaviour is similarly misguided. At best, the target group may comply only with the letter of the rule, but not its spirit. At worst, it becomes a badge of honour among peers to be able to break the rule and get away with it.


In most cases, however, the introduction of rules and nothing more merely encourages people to abdicate responsibility, leaving that to 'the system'.


Working practices


Much the same applies to new working practices. However, attempts to change workplace attitudes frequently stumble at the first hurdle, due to a failure to communicate even basic messages in a manner to which employees can relate positively.


No-one is going to be enthusiastic about changes which they suspect may cost them their jobs if the changes are not properly explained to them, or if they are explained in ways that invite hostility, cynicism and suspicion.


However, managers are often 'too busy' to manage, and take the view that staff really don't need to know what is happening. Rumour and speculation quickly fill the information vacuum.


The resulting fear and confusion is frequently mistaken for bloody-minded resistance to change.


Understanding why


There is obviously also a need to manage the actual change itself: to establish new roles and responsibilities, to develop new skills, and to introduce new incentives.


Yet far too much emphasis is usually put on motivating employees simply to accept changes, rather than on ensuring that they understand why and how they are required to change.


The neglect or misjudgment of these and other fundamental considerations regularly jeopardises major organisational and social change initiatives.


It also frequently gives rise to extended, bitter and costly disputes.



Our experience



Key figures in EEE Lex were extensively involved in some of the most far-reaching corporate and social change management programmes in recent decades, in countries ranging from post-Soviet Russia to post-apartheid South Africa.


Others have been involved in similar initiatives in Europe, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.


We have a wealth of practical experience in helping companies,  government agencies, labour and professional and community-based organisations across Africa to adapt successfully to sweeping new roles, relationships, procedures and circumstances.


Our multi-disciplinary approach ensures that our advice is always practical, considered, commercially realistic and sharply focussed on the intended outcome, rather than on condemnation and blame.


It also avoids the unduly narrow, legalistic approach often associated with lawyers, and yet is just as mindful of the risks of 'unintended consequences' which others tend to overlook.


We act as both consultants and trainers.

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