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What Is Change Management: The Science And Art Of Change
Episode 136th April 2021 • Survive & Thrive • Jennifer Ayres
00:00:00 00:28:47

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The coronavirus pandemic reinforced that the one constant in life is change itself. On this episode of the Survive & Thrive podcast, Bas Zwart -- an executive at Johnson and Johnson -- joins Jennifer to discuss developing and implementing change management solutions.

Bas’s experience in a variety of HR leadership roles has given him plenty of practice navigating teams through change. From determining what is change management to its role throughout the pandemic and even beyond, Bas’s insight is an invaluable tool for any business looking to be proactive about developing sustainable change programs to quickly pivot when required.

Act 1: Change management

Introducing Bas (1:07)

Bas introduces himself and his experience in human resources, as well as his outlook on his job.

Life before the pandemic (2:22)

Bas details his typical daily schedule from before the coronavirus pandemic, including some of the challenges he had to tackle.

What is change management and how did it change with the pandemic? (3:13)

Bas believes change management is more of an art form than simply a discipline. He explains how change management changed when the pandemic started.

Act 2: Using change management at the beginning of the pandemic

The early days of the pandemic (5:58)

With an early look at the coronavirus due to having offices all around the world, Bas talks about how he and his team were able to assist in Johnson and Johnson’s response.

Communication is vital (7:25)

Bas believes responding to any crisis begins with communication. Bas thinks mid-level leaders play a pivotal role in allowing employees to stay informed from a source they are already familiar with.

Open-mic sessions (8:22)

During the coronavirus pandemic, Bas and his team got those mid-level leaders together to hold open-mic sessions where they could disseminate information and have an open conversation. Having a dialogue allowed managers to share their thoughts and ask questions that pertained to them specifically.

The art of change management (9:45)

Bas believes going back to your values -- both personal and business -- is a core guiding principle. Johnson and Johnson let their credo become their “North Star” and define each decision.

Act 3: The people side of change management

Making everyone feel heard (13:05)

How does a company as large as Johnson and Johnson ensure their people don’t feel lost during a crisis? Bas believes in the science and art of change management to create processes and subtlety in guiding leaders to deliver the right message.

Surprising adaptations (14:57)

Despite years of experience in change management, Bas was surprised by how people at Johnson and Johnson reacted to the pandemic. Whether it was how people adapted to the situation or the vulnerability they shared, the coronavirus pandemic helped people connect together and bond.

Act 4: How the pandemic has changed the world

What changes will stick? (18:59)

So much has changed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, with some believing technology and trends have been accelerated by as much as 10 years. Bas shares the things he thinks are here to stay, including the work-from-home movement.

How to thrive (22:37)

As he saw throughout the pandemic, Bas learned several lessons he believes can help businesses not just survive but thrive -- from recognizing people-leaders are more valuable than ever before to creating and leaning on a “North Star.”

Final thoughts (25:47)

Bas recalls his first meeting with Johnson and Johnson leadership when it was obvious the pandemic was going to be serious. 


Bas Zwart: LinkedIn