The Future Ain't What It Used To Be (Part 1)

Tom Colbert, Director Change Management, CSS International, Inc. 

The dust has settled (and the snow has been shoveled) on Collaborate ’13, held in Denver, CO. I really like the Collaborate conference. It’s the one time in the year where I can count on Oracle Customers/Users (EBS, JDE, PeopleSoft), Business Partners and experts converging to share knowledge and experiences…as well as catch-up with old friends, and meet new ones. Maybe it was the snow storm, or the Conference Room Pilots performance party at the Rock Bottom, or maybe the 5 sessions I presented – whatever may be the case I had the pleasure to meet a lot of new people and talk about issues that are “keeping them up at night”.

What Keeps You Up?
One such conversation came right after my session on change management -- #12772 Organizational Change Management: The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be. A gentleman approached me after the presentation stating that he had gained a lot of ideas and enthusiasm (as well as a “manageable sense of intimidation”). He is preparing to lead the charge on a project and end-user training for a major upgrade this year; one that will cover over 120 locations. He asked if I had any guidance or thoughts around explaining the rational for Organizational Change Management (OCM) as a component of the project to executives and IT leaders. This is not an unusual request, as many executive teams will wait until a project is comprised before they start viewing OCM as something more than “touchy – feely”. The truth is business initiatives rarely fail due to software and hardware issues. Most project failures are the result of "people" issues in an organization. Simply put, when embarking on any initiative, you fundamentally change the way people work. Poorly managed change is the fundamental cause of such business problems as excessive costs, poor quality and service, rejection of new processes and ways of doing business, increased training and retention costs, low productivity, missed milestones and in the end failed projects.

Human resistance to change can compromise the success of any project. To realize success, your implementation or upgrade solution must recognize the elements of personal, organizational, business process, and technology change that apply to stakeholders at all levels, from leadership and employees, to customers and suppliers. Properly preparing leadership and stakeholders prior to the actual change occurring will facilitate technology and business process change in a rapid and controlled manner.

Not Just Theory
The key is to address critical areas such as: communication, project alignment and vision; organizational change management skills; behavioral reinforcement; and a proactive process for uncovering resistance and mitigating risks that are often cited as reasons for project failure.
Projects that neglect to address the human element are susceptible to risks that can easily escalate over time. Therefore, it was imperative that you employ organizational change and people management initiatives as a part of the overall project methodology and plan. Change Management efforts are not separate “one-offs” inserted throughout the project. Rather, Change Management is one side of the triangle that makes up a very powerful and proven implementation methodology. Change initiatives need to be specifically designed to enable new software and business processes, and to effect alignment throughout the organization resulting in enterprise-wide adoption and demonstrative benefits. These initiatives differentiate from general organizational development work in that they are focused on integrating organizational psychology with software and business process redesign; enabling the proper adoption of new technology and business processes.

Proactively addressing the human elements of change will provide:
• A robust ability to sustain and thrive in the face of “change”.
• Build cohesive and effective work teams.
• Improve communication leadership.
• Identify and mitigate risks prior to the change.
• Align the organization with means of doing business.
• And, ensure acceptance of processes and technological change.

Stay with us for Part 2 of this blog post! 

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