With these words, Madam Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, President of Malta, opens her speech at the European Development Days in Brussels, Tuesday 5 June.
The topic is Women and girls at the forefront of sustainable development, and the recurrent and clear message of the day seems to be that now that we more or less globally know where to go, that we share common objectives and a strong vision, we need to learn how to properly reach the goal.
The gap between the idea and its implementation, between the solution and the result, between the willingness and the
accomplishment, is change, and change is a path.
Change is the only way to transform thoughts in actions.
For too long we have believed that to make change happen having a fixed good objective and proper resources was enough, but the reality shows us that it is not so.
Change means transforming people behaviors, perceptions, attitudes, and this does not happen just thank to a fair reason, or by a top down requirement.
If people do not change, development and innovation will remain prisoners of dreaming theories, and even not the most brilliant solution will be strong enough to defeat a simple problem.
Change is not only a matter of money, policies and laws, demands or impositions, interests or
Change is about people.
To change, people need to be aware, and thus to be informed and involved into the transformation process.
They need to desire the change, and thus to understand what is going on, to be informed, to be able to choose, to be motivated and to become accountable.
They need the proper capacities to change, and this means that they have to be carefully trained.
They need to be able to implement and manage the change, and thus to be skilled to put in practice the developed capacities.
They need to benefit from the change (otherwise there any sustainability will be possible) and thus they have to perceive its positive impacts on their life and to be supported to keep alive the new behaviors.
This is the way to accomplish relevant, proper, feasible, respectful, effective, owned and sustainable development processes.
But this is also a profession, which is called Change Management.
The role of Change Management still represents something unclear and often tends
to be confused with other occupations engaged in the development sectors. We are mistaken, in fact, anytime we think that a project manager, or a team leader, a gender or a human rights expert,
are change managers.
The change manager is a professional who has specific and technical knowledges and capacities to support people to change and to go down the road
that leads from the project objective to the project result. He plays a key role for the quality of both the intervention and its achievements, and he has to be involved since the very beginning
of the project design to assure key factors.
absence or the underestimation of this professionality inside the
core international organizations, governments and NGOs, represents one of the main reasons
why today, after years and years of development actions, projects and programs realized worldwide, we are still at the point to focus our attention on the fact that “Not everything fits for everybody”, or to claim sentences as “Do nothing about me, without me”.
Of course, we moved forward, and progresses have been done, but we are late if we compare the investments to the actual results, or the objectives to the real achievements, although delay does not seem to be the worst trouble. The lack of proper and specific competences in change management, in fact, does not only means waste of time and resources, it means above all damages.
Too often development actions turned into negative and inspected impacts, on the natural environment as well as on populations, identity, culture,
overall economic conditions, political instability, vulnerable groups and so on. Too much often what seemed to be a good solution turned into a problem, difficult to be managed, impossible to be
“Even though there was a very good willingness, the action was not properly designed for those populations” sentenced during the EDDs a member of the Citizen Alliance, remembering a past event she experienced.
Today we have the knowledge and the experience, we have the technology, we have a much clearer framework of values and objectives than before to light the way, and we need to build (inside organizations, institutions, companies and communities) a real culture of change to capitalize and make full use of all this.
Our development and growth cannot be anymore addressed without a professional change management.