The death of change management

 In Agility, Change management, Motivational Speaker

Sébastien Sasseville, author, motivational speaker, change & agility

Are you still managing change? If so, you probably have a culture problem. Change management is an approach that needs to evolve to keep up with today’s economy.

What proves this is that the start-ups who inspire us don’t manage change. They create it, impose it and set the pace—a new pace. They are creative, inquisitive and constantly reinventing and questioning without any emotional attachment to the way they do things.

Conversely, companies that manage change mostly do so reactively and often too slowly. These organizations are sometimes blinded by current results that are good enough or not poor enough to create a sense of urgency.

From Everest to the Sahara, my athletic journey embodies transformation. Today, whether wearing a suit or crampons, I work with about fifty companies every year and help them facilitate their transformation.

Here are a few things to ponder for organizations that want to remain relevant and succeed in markets in continuous transformation:

End corporate nostalgia.
The most successful organizations don’t wait for disappointing results to reinvent themselves. They know how to abandon processes, products, services and ways of doing things quickly without having an emotional attachment to them.

Foster a sense of optimistic urgency.
A culture imbued with a feeling of optimistic urgency tends to ask questions about its future. This state of mind spurs innovation and allows the organization to go down in history as having transformed its industry.

This sense of urgency is positive, constructive and inspires action. Here, the enemy is not failure, but inaction. If you aren’t transforming your industry, your competitors are probably busy doing so.

Choose the right words.
Change is a word to avoid. So that your team understands that change is constant and a continuous process, use the words evolution, transformation and agility instead. Your culture doesn’t change. It evolves.

Decentralize power to foster agility.
In the mountains, you need to know how to identify threats and react fast. God knows, at high altitudes, the environment can change in seconds. In our organizations, the challenge is not knowing that we must adapt, but doing so quickly.

This is a challenge for large organizations, which tend to have a bit more paralysis in their administrative structures. Decentralization and power-sharing increases agility, speed and therefore the performance of our large companies. What’s more, this power-sharing increases engagement by allowing employees to feel valued, heighten their sentiment of usefulness and therefore achieve their full potential.

Start with the hiring process.
Are you looking for the right fit? A culture fit is good, but a culture add is better. Hiring is a dream opportunity to build an agile culture by adding expertise, a viewpoint and an attitude previously missing from the team.

Hire with humility. Choose candidates who will challenge you.

Don’t add to your team’s plate.
A comment often comes up with executives: “My teams have gone through a lot of changes; they’re tired.”

Change doesn’t mean adding tasks. It involves aligning new actions with new goals. We should draw inspiration from Netflix’s “Stop-Start-Continue” recipe here. You should often ask yourself these three questions: What should we stop doing? What should we continue doing? What should we start doing?

Get comfortable with experimenting.
Organizations that know how to adapt know how to experiment. They experiment and learn constantly without waiting for a crisis so that they prepare for the future and stay on top. Forget the summit—make learning the goal.


“ Change is a process, not an event.” This quote was made famous by John Kotter—twenty-five years ago. Now more than ever, it is meaningful. In the new economy, we are no longer talking about change, but rather perpetual movement, whose pace will only quicken. This is an exciting challenge that pushes us to check our relevance daily.

To succeed, you need to join the waltz, not perceive it as an obstacle to overcome. We must build agile cultures and make our personnel understand that change is not a project to carry out, but the organization’s DNA.

I wish you every success!

Sébastien Sasseville helps performing organizations that have reached base camp, but are looking to transform, so as to dictate rhythm, stay at the forefront and get to the top. From Mount Everest to the Sahara, Sébastien provides large organizations with the state of mind and the strategies to maintain optimal performance in rapidly changing environments. To learn more about Sébastien’s messages and his inspiring talks, visit


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