KSK Has a Master’s Degree in Management from the University of Auckland.
Once again, we waited to learn our lockdown fate. To witness the excruciating calisthenics of our PM.
One of the most critical elements of this whole sorry story is the Government’s lack of change management. This is a principle and practice of business and organisations and should have been of this government.
PROSCI, a global team of “change fanatics”, defines change management as: “the application of a structured process and set of tools for leading the people side of change to achieve a desired outcome.” An effective and healthy change management plan has clarity and alignment, not confusion and disjointedness.
PROSCI, named for Professional Science, has developed a change model to establish the “critical aspects for success”. They hold that if a project is weak in any of four aspects, it will struggle or fail.
The 4 aspects are:
The heart of the triangle and the reason for change, the objectives of the project, and benefits. The reason for change is clear. But this government has no measurable objectives beyond the upwardly mobile vaccination % requirement. The benefits – to live a normal life once again. But is that with Covid-19 or without it? We don’t know the answer to this as the definitions are many and varied – elimination/eradication/containment. Acceptance? We don’t know.
The direction and guidance for the project, including who is accountable for defining why a change is happening, how it aligns with the direction of the organisation, in this case, the country via the government, and why it is a priority. The priority is clear. But the other metrics are not.
The discipline that addresses the technical side of a change by designing, developing and delivering the solution that tackles the problem: crucially, within the constraints of time, cost and scope. There has been no such discipline in the scientific/technical aspect of the management of Covid by the government. So-called modelling became a non-peer-reviewed reality and the basis for panic decisions by the government. “The end of the world is nigh,” they cried. The cost is crippling, the timeframe undefined, the scope limited to vaccination and lockdowns.
The discipline that addresses the people side of the change, enabling people to engage, adopt and use the solution. Given that it has now been necessary to bribe reluctant adopters with chocolate fish and KFC, perhaps the government should look very closely at their management of change concerning the population at large.
If at the very least they had looked at social models of adopter categories, they could have supposed a vaccination uptake based on 2.5% Innovators, Early Adopters 13.5%, an Early Majority of 34%, a Late Majority of 34% and 16% Laggards; or more accurately in this case, the Cautious. This is the Diffusion of Innovation Theory, whereby the pattern and speed at which new ideas, practices or products are spread through a population. It is a marketing theory that is applicable in this social construct.
Marketing to these distinct groups could have targeted the vaccination programme rollout by people’s behaviour, rather than by age group as the government used, which is understandable to a large extent based on health vulnerability. But age grouping does not address social behaviour and is not an indicator of adoption.
And so, based on the PROSCI model, Leadership, Project Management and Change Management, with Success at the centre of the triangle, it is easy to see why we are in the mess we are in today.
This government set itself up as the only trusted authority – the one source of truth – their science the only science to be believed or even contemplated. Our PM and her sizeable team of spin doctors are skilled in PR: that’s all. People with a communications degree and an arts degree or two are not the so-called experts we need to lead us through and beyond the Covid pandemic. The collection of wonks and whizzes we are asked to believe in have not formed a cohesive, strategic team. Individuals pop up when there is yet another opportunity to scare the bejeezus out of the now battle-weary population.
But people are rebelling, as the country’s weekend hijinks have amply shown. The rules are too complicated and ever-changing, too many of our freedoms eliminated, so the more cooperative compliance of this time last year is rapidly becoming defiance.
People have had enough. With vaccination and brutal lockdowns the only arrows in the quiver, we don’t know where we are going, how we can get there, when we are likely to get there and most importantly, what it will take to get us there and keep us there because Covid is here to stay.
Given the PROSCI development that sees a project struggle or fail on any of the aspects of the change management triangle for success, it is easy to see why we are floundering in a sea of uncertainty. The Government failed to plan. They planned to fail. They have failed the country.