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Change Management Chefs Vs Change Management Cooks

Updated: May 29, 2021

Warning: uncomfortable discussion on Change Management Chefs Vs Change Management Cooks. I am asking, are you a Change Management Chef - a solutions provider - or are you a Change Management cook - a service provider - who could get Chopped?

 Change Management Chefs Vs Change Management Cooks

Did you train to be a change manager or leader? Probably not.

The vast majority of change managers and leaders find themselves thrust into management or leadership positions because they are good technicians - you are plain good at your job! In not being trained, you attend courses, read books and do the best you can to help the people around you deal with uncertainty, anxiety and fear.

Ultimately, you are doing your best to deliver a vision for an anticipated future, a vision that, in all likelihood, is not even your in the first place. More than that, people either compete or collaborate with your anticipated future, and competition brings resistance.

Read: Overcoming Resistance to Change: I don't have time! Now, what do you do?


While I have deep empathy for change managers who lack the scaffolding, sponsorship and investment in personal development to help them succeed, there comes a time where you have to be responsible and accountable for the meaning and value you aspire to deliver.

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You might read this article and feel uncomfortable, perhaps even questioning your competence to the point that you outright reject what is I am saying. I am sorry if that is the case. But I want this article to evoke a response; if you experience an adverse reaction, unpack what triggered that response and, please, share your insights with me.

Read: The Change Managers Guide to Emotions: Thomas Modly lost his job, will you?

The point of this article is not to make you feel incompetent. I want this article to help you reflect on your approach to Change Management and Leadership, where you can then seize opportunities for development that improve the meaning and value you create as a change leader.

Are you a Change Management cook?

  • Change Management cooks see change as a linear delivery process.

  • Change Management cooks look for recipes to follow; they become experts in the recipe sequence without understanding how or why the recipe, or its methods, works.

  • Change Management cooks attend courses and hire consults, looking for ingredients and methods for a specific Knowledge Management recipe that fits a specific challenge. Such an approach limits the sustainability of any intervention, as the change recipe and its methods are only as good as the stability of the environment (e.g. resources, such as communication skills or appropriate project funding levels). When an ingredient isn't available – the context changes – the change recipe fails, and so does the change cook.

  • Change cooks are 'best practice' (one best way – the way I know) service providers.

Read: Change Management & ADKAR: the things you don't know that ruin the recipe

Over the years, I have seen many Change Management projects collapse because of an over-reliance on Change Management recipes; this happens because the Change Leader or Manager is only as good as the explicitness and stickiness of the recipe he or she is following. Given time, the recipe inevitably fails and, lacking the necessary Beliefs, Attitudes, Skills, Knowledge, Experience and Talent (BASKET), the change initiative's limitations, as well as those of the Change Manager, are exposed. When this happens, change initiatives slow, stress and fail.


Are you a Change Management chef?

  • Change Management chefs see change as emergent, brought about by agents in the system who have competing or collaborating views on an anticipated future.

  • Change Management chefs have high cross-disciplinary knowledge, skills and understanding related to underpinning change principles (e.g. human factors and technological factors) and how they come together to create the whole.

  • Change Management chefs are boundary spanners who purposely create BASKET colliders to rapidly sense, anticipate, and respond to emergent system dynamics.

  • Change Management chefs question the composition of existing recipes, using feedback to improve performance against current and future needs continuously.

  • Change Management chefs see a system as a collection of raw ingredients and creates an experience greater than the sum of its parts.

  • A Change Management chef is a contingency-led solutions provider.

Change Management cook or chef: what do you want from a recipe book?

Change Management cooks read change recipes and follow them diligently; some might say, blindly.

A Change management chef reads the same book to find new ideas for bringing ingredients and methods together.

Do you need to start upgrading your change management capabilities now?

What do you see yourself as; a Change Management cook or Change Management chef?

If you think you are a cook, you have a phenomenal opportunity to become a chef! Start now by asking:

  • What could you do to become a Change Management chef?

  • What do you want to do to become a Change Management chef?

  • What will you do to become a Change Management chef?

The future is yours. Will you strive to challenge yourself to unflatten your thinking to enhance your brand through the meaning and value you bring to your change initiatives, or will you stick to the recipe and hope for the best?


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