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Change Saturation and Change Collision. They’re Real

I’m going to date myself here. I remember watching the cartoon character Popeye, the Sailor Man as a child growing up. Popeye had a saying when he was fed up and about to take action on his mortal enemy, Brutus. He would say, “I’ve had all I can stands, cause I can’t stands no more.” Well, what if that was the sentiment of people within your organization when they reach the tipping point with all the changes affecting their day-to-day work lives? What if, they can’t stands no more? When change seems to be the only constant within most organizations today, how do you manage the impact on employees, and possible burnout? Here’s one answer. Organizations must be concerned with change saturation and change collision.

According to Prosci, change saturation is when individuals and organizations experience more change than can be absorbed, and change collision is when too much change is happening at once, resulting in conflicts in timeframe, resources, and mindshare. This definition means there has to be a delicate dance between the ever-evolving changes to maintain competitive advantage, modernize technology platforms, manage digital transformation initiatives, and the impact these changes have on the organization.

So, how do organizations do the dance? One way to combat this challenge is to establish a change management office or CMO. A CMO takes into consideration all aspects of projects, strategic initiatives, technology implementations, and transformations that will have an impact on an organization. Not just from the delivery aspect and successful implementation, but mostly on how all this change affects people within the organization. A CMO is a governing body for all things change related. From overseeing the sheer number of projects, to the complexity of initiatives and what toll these endeavors place on their people is the role of the CMO. Even though the fast-moving train of change may not slow down, this oversight will ensure the right focus is placed on people impacts. Armed with a view of people impacts, an organization can proceed with knowledge that change saturation and collision is real, how this may affect business outcomes, and how individuals within the organization might respond. This focus allows organizations to move forward with acceptable risk and mitigation planning should their employees reach a tipping point with too much change.

Another point to consider is the alarming rate at which employees are quitting jobs. One report shows that one in four people quit their jobs this year. Another stated that 65% of people were looking for new jobs in August alone. Although there are a lot of factors that contribute to these scenarios, one has to consider that the amount of change an organization is going through as a result of the pandemic and other economic factors might play a role in this staggering increase in people leaving their jobs. I have no facts to back this assumption up, but it is food for thought.

The bottom line is we live in a world where change is occurring at a faster rate than ever. One might say it’s evolution. This is how the world moves forward. However, a portfolio view of change and people impacts provided by a CMO could make a difference in your people sticking around for the long haul or making a mass exodus “cause they can’t stands no more.”  

About the Authors

Julyan Lee
Julyan is the Organizational Change Management Practice Lead at GP Strategies within Platform Adoption. His focus is on executing the OCM disciplines of Prosci, ADKAR, SAP Activate, Infor IDM Methodologies in both waterfall and Agile project environments. He is responsible for building GP standard OCM processes and methodologies, and ensuring uniformity in their application across OCM resources and their projects. He also supports business development teams in their sales pursuits, in formulating OCM solutions and proposal responses, and presenting to clients.

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