The Interview: Mind Moves' Lead Business Consultant, Nicole Sroka, On Organizational Change Management
Danny: Hello “In The Newrow” today we are joined by Nicole Sroka of the organization Mind Moves, a consultancy specializing in all phases of change management for products, processes, people, and the planet. So thank you very much Nicole for joining us today. To start what can you tell us about Mind Moves – not only your function in it but in general a bit about the discipline of organizational change management.
Nicole: We help facilitate change for organizations, teams, and individuals and as you know, being a human being on this planet, change is difficult. Our brains are not programmed to accept change easily and the thing that a lot of our corporate leaders don’t understand is the amount of effort it takes to get people aligned to a change, a future vision and get them adopted to a new way of being, a new set of behaviors.
A lot of times an executive might make a large purchase on a fancy shiny new object and think that that’s gonna solve world hunger. So we’re gonna invest millions of dollars in this technology and everyone’s gonna use it and we’re gonna start yielding the benefits. But, what good is that shiny new object if people aren’t using it? So Mind Moves takes a very human centered approach, a very holistic approach, and we help ease people into the change by involving them early in the process of developing the solution, really honing in on individual needs because that is how change occurs, one individual at a time, and being very methodical in our training communication, our resistance stakeholder management to align people to that change which ultimately yields faster productivity and results.
Sam: That’s interesting Nicole. Where in the process are they coming to Mind Moves? It seems that they’ve progressed or in some of the ways that they’re engaging with you they have already gone into committing to a change at a leadership level and then they realize that it’s pretty difficult to get everyone on to this path. So when are they coming to engage with you? How does that work typically?
Nicole: I’ve been engaged at various levels – when a project has failed or a former change leader or program manager has left then they’ve needed to replace them. Ideally a company would engage me as early as possible to help in the solution build and that truly yields the best outcome. In fact, I was just working with a client today who brought me in to develop a solution and that’s personally where I shine and thrive, in that space of complete ambiguity. They say this is what we want to achieve. Now help us figure out how to get there. I’ll go in with a very investigative mindset – ask a ton of questions, gather insights, draw conclusions, summarize what I think the needs are, then build out a strategy plan and the solution itself to close those gaps and address those needs. Earlier the better always
Sam: Are your clients typically on the SMB side or are we talking about enterprise? What’s the scale of these companies that are committing to change?
Nicole: As an independent consultant, we have worked with a number of clients. Some are the leaders in their industry on a global platform. I have worked at levels high in the organization with a hundred thousand employees with different regions and processes as well as companies that have gone through a major transformation through mergers and acquisitions and they’re needing help in the melding of culture. I’ve also worked with smaller organizations with less than 50 employees to institute better change practices and I’ve worked with individuals. That’s why I’m using Newrow is it’s to work with with individuals specifically.
Sam: That’s perfect. A lot of these are workshops that you have a lot of interaction with the customer. You also introduced the idea that you’re working with people in different regions as well. Was there a time when you were traveling to different locations? Are you still traveling to different locations or are you embracing technology to make that scalable, eliminate some of the costs involved? How’s that work for you?
Nicole: Yeah, absolutely! I am so excited by the potential of being unattached and to be able to still reach and connect with professionals through borders and time zones through these virtual platforms. Yes, I travel on a regular basis. I’m based out of Washington DC, but I’m traveling on a monthly basis and I love the fact that I can still connect with my students and my clients virtually through platforms like Newrow.
Danny: Nicole, is there one or a few particular things when you’re trying to bridge the gap between strategy and implementation, are there certain common themes that keep popping up from one organization or entity or an individual to another? Are there certain themes that continue to come into play for people?
Nicole: I think the biggest theme circles back to what I said at the beginning, is the under appreciation for the effort that aligning human beings requires. All the time sponsors, for example talk about a theme statistically, there’s an organization called Prosci that is a governing body in the discipline of organizational change management.
They have conducted extensive research over their last eight publications where they interview thousands of companies from different industries and different parts of the world and the number one reason for failure…and by the way 70 percent of change initiatives fail because of this human factor. Even with OCM in place. OCM definitely increases your odds. So with the research that Prosci has provided, sponsorship is the number one reason for failure. It’s not having leaders who are invested, who roll up their sleeves, who get involved, and understand, and I’m not talking about in the minutia detail. Of course we want them to be trusting the people assigned to implementing the change, but they need to be bought in and championing that for the masses.
Yes, that is most definitely a common theme, that change is hard for humans. change is hard for organizations. Especially in this VUCA era. VUCA is an acronym for Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous. Clearly we all know the rapid pace of change, the exponential growth of change in our daily lives. Organizations are more challenged than ever. We know that there’s a history of change failure, but OCM can absolutely help increase that change success through this scientific approach, through a holistic practice, and through just tuning in to what people really need to get them to accept, embrace the change and become more change resilience.
Sam: I noticed that you’ve spoken about sustainability and I was curious how that relates. Is that sustainability of change within an organization where embracing change is a continual process and that’s what you’re trying to instill in them? Is that embracing a new development or new mode of working and making that a sustainable practice? Are you talking more about an environmental sense or how does that play into the system?
Nicole: Thank you for asking. It’s both to be honest and that’s a great question Sam. I have worked on sustainability environmental specific programs and changes, but I also believe in a holistic underpinning. In addition to being a business owner and consultant, I’m also a yoga teacher and I named my company Mind Moves for a reason. I truly believe that a human’s path to liberation is through our minds. I think that when we purify our minds we purify our planet and our environment. I have a very strong affinity towards caring for our earth and I hope that by teaching both in the workplace and in the yoga studio just in my everyday interactions that I’m also helping to promote a healthier environment.
Danny: I can really appreciate you saying that. Obviously it seems like companies are spending billions of dollars in trying to help humans adapt and change, but perhaps what you’re saying is what they’re missing is, they’re not tuning in to what people need. So the quicker that we get our minds in the right direction, not on ourselves, but how we connect into the people around us then change will be facilitated. Change will come quickly.
Nicole: Yeah, beautifully said Danny.
Danny: No, that’s coming from you and some of the things I read on your website and exploring what Mind Moves is all about. Nicole, thank you very much for your time. It’s very illuminating and we definitely wish you luck in your continuing endeavors.
Nicole: Thank You Danny and Sam for all your support. I’m really enjoying this journey with Newrow and if I can be of any help, I’m here for you.
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