IT Governance

8 Ways to Master Change Management

Does IT need an autopsy? “The CIO’s job is change management…To do it poorly is fatal,” says CIO John Tonnison, quoted by Howard Baldwin in an article for Computerworld. According to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, only 54% of directors and other C-Level executives believe they could sustain change management initiatives in their companies. Perhaps that’s because change management is at least one part science and one part art – but how to pull them apart?

Everyone in IT is familiar with the micro definition of change management, which involves updating systems using version control, fallback and other methods. But it’s the macro definition that’s becoming more important: a structured approach to change that not only updates systems but prepares and retrains employees with the goal of reaching a higher level of efficiency and success.

Pulling Apart Change Management

Change is just as much about rigor and execution as it is about emotional and political grey area. Fortunately, there are eight simple rules for keeping the two sides straight during any successful change.

  1. Change begets change.
  2. Sell the change story.
  3. Buy the employee response.
  4. Design for the individual.
  5. Fund the “fuzzy stuff.”
  6. Finesse for culture.
  7. Measure for operations.
  8. Dissect each initiative.

The first rule is to forget packaging hundreds of changes into a single rare implementation. Get the changes across in quick little chunks that add up to big change over the life of the process. Paint the story (or tell the picture) of change. By the same communicative token, actively listen to worker’s concerns. Use gamification to garner feedback if necessary.

One way to get down to business, the business of real change, is to design for the individual. No magical thinking necessary. Another common mistake is to under-invest in the “fuzzy area” of cultural change. Change management admittedly requires soft skills and no amount of measurement will justify the funds needed for a real change initiative. Rather, save the metrics for the operation and process-oriented aspects of the change. Once a change process is completed, dissect and repeat until you’ve mastered the art & science of change management.

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