Friday, February 18, 2011

Change Management

This is one of my favourite management terms that we give lip service to. It's right up there with 'Risk Management' (e.g. Hold the phone, this scope document has got to address Change Management ... errrr, okay, so what do we say about it?) It's about being honest with the change. WHY ARE WE DOING THIS? What's in it for me? How will this affect me? No, how will this really affect me?

No one wants to really answer these burning questions. No one except me that is. I love being brutally honest, even when the message is not all that rosy. Problem is, I'm not much of a spin doctor and management does not want to draw attention to anything negative. Everyone knows that people naturally don't want change so it's best to just do it rather than spend time talking about it.

A colleague and I were talking about change the other day and came to some other interesting realizations:
People don't want to feel stupid. I now know why my projects were de-scoped to practically nothing. Even though I believed in my heart that once the end users understood how much better life would be in the new work environment, it was too far a leap from their everyday work habits. They would have been cursing our name for months, years even.  Start small.

Always let them change on their own time. Think of how you feel when you log into your fav Social Media app and it's completely turned on it's head and for no apparent reason. You should always give people an option to continue doing things the old way -- they will soon realize that they will be left behind if they don't change. A good example my friend gave me is that he refuses to text -- it's something he's just stubborn about, but knows that it will eventually happen because his kids will force him into it out of necessity.

Let others sell the change for you. This is often what we try to aim for by running small pilots. We secretly hope that the success will go viral and users will be bragging to their colleagues about how great the new systems is. Sadly, this is rarely the case. But I can always dream.

Be honest. If the change requires training, costs, minor inconveniences or more time then just be up-front about it. Too often we focus too much on the benefits of change without addressing the reality. People are already skeptical of change, so not being upfront just enforces the resistance.

This blog post isn't particularly enlightening but I'm learning a few things along the way and I like writing about them with the hopes that they'll stick.

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