I have seen many instances of (un)successful change implementations using AIM. AIM stands for Accelerated Implementation methodology and it’s based on a principle not dissimilar to Kotter’s plan for introducing mobilising and delivering change.
THere are three ways in which Change implementation with AIM is really good. First is in identification and management of stakeholders. Identifying the CAST the superset of stakeholders who matter i.e. champions, agents, sponsors and targets, is pragmatic because it’s a finite manageable classification.
The second good aspect is modelling behaviours of change using its ‘express – model –reinforce’ method, dovetailing with great leadership principles. And leadership is about bringing change.
The final great aspect is removing the safety net or reinforcing new behaviours by making any fall back into old habits unpleasant.
So where does Change Implementation through AIM fail?
It prevents sponsors from directly addressing targets, because it insists on a cascade method. This is good but targets need to feel the vision and burning platform, rather than have the change dictated to them by their managers. If you don’t buy into the vision, cause, purpose, it’s a push.
Secondly for change to be relevant, it needs to be relevant when it’s cascaded down at every level. At a President or a CEO level it’s about costs, agility, growth. At a departmental level it could manifest in an intrapreneurial drive or removing waste in the processes. This is a big hidden cause for failure as change needs to be contextualised at every level for people to understand it without ambiguity and then act up on it. This is what the sponsorship cascade should do, but it normally doesn’t happen that way…
The last reason for failure is that it does not address the needs of the targets. Apart from surfacing resistance and being assertive the biggest hole is the lack of understanding of principles, largely derived from behavioural economics and social psychology, on how to make change easy for the recipients. Change implementation with AIM is completely blind to this and that is where recent thinking from Thaler, Sunstein, Chip & Dan Heath do a lot on making change adoption easy.
As it stands today, Change implementation with AIM is another blunt tool in a programme manager’s arsenal. You can overlay any process you like, but if your change management still relys on command and control, none of it will help!
Viren Lall is a business transformation expert, an entrepreneurship instructor, and an adjunct professor of management at a leading business school. He has been involved with startups since the 1990s and delivers entrepreneurship boot camps and continuous venture development programmes for startups. He is a key note speaker on succeeding in transformational change and entrepreneurial ventures.