Change happens.  Change is all around us.  It happens every day to everyone. 

Some people are more adapt or comfortable with change, others struggle with it.  Nevertheless it happens.  And it is happening a lot these days, especially in business.  Business climates are demanding disruptive and transformative change to meet the innovation challenges they face.  

Okay, what has that got to do with IT?  


IT is often, maybe always, the downstream recipient of business change drivers.  Business drivers push for systems changes IT is asked to produce.  Many time, most times, the changes IT makes on behalf of business drivers and strategy are disruptive to the employees of the organization.  Can you see the cycle?

IT people are people first, technicians later. Changes dictated by the business such as restructuring, acquisitions, reductions in force just plan hurt. That hurt leaves to non-productive behaviors and poor performance.  What some may not realize is that often times IT is informed of these changes before the rest of the organization due to the need to make broad systemic changes to support it.  Many times they have to execute on these changes without the benefit of public forums or discussions.  It leaves them wondering without benefit of asking – how will this change impact me, will I have a job, what about my friends.  .

Planned systems changes are just as disruptive to the business community.  Have you noticed how their love an old system grows (despite years of complaints) when faced with the prospect of it being changed?  The devil you know is always perceived as better than the devil you don’t.  As IT leaders we owe it to the business to manage through these changes.   

It is an interesting challenge from an IT leader perspective. A challenge that needs to managed on multiple fronts.

Change management is a term that is bantered around pretty freely.  Sometimes it is blamed for poor performance – “The project failed because we did not focus on change management.”  Sometimes it is used as an excuse for not supporting a direction “The risk of that process revision is not worth the change management effort.”   (A few of my readers may remember my having made that statement in the past.)

Theories behind change management are quite complex, draw from many disciplines and sciences, and are probably better left to the experts.  I am sure you are all relieved that I am not going to talk psychology and behavioral sciences with you!  

I do want to share my perspective of the underlying impact of change.  Change does not happen in isolation, it impacts the whole organization and the people impacted by it. 

The first step in leading through change is to understand and address how people are impacted.  People impacted by change go through an emotional cycle or curve ranging from shock, to depression, to acceptance and commitment. 

The change curve model is based on a model originally developed in the mid-1960’s by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross to illustrate how people deal with grief.  It  is easy to relate to the mode. As I look at the model it brings back the same emotions I experienced during major change or loss. 

As I stated earlier, individuals deal with change differently. Some go through it quickly, other take much longer.  The leadership challenge is to help people through their own change curve by understanding what phase they are in, and what support tools they need to transition and embrace the new change. 

So with that we will start a new series of conversation on change management. As I am not the expert on the science and discipline sides I will reach out to several of my respected friends and colleagues to help us out here.  If I can’t beg or bribe them, I will wing it with my opinion. 

We will start with “Understanding the Change Curve.”   Until next time!

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