Change is all around us. It happens every day to everyone.
Some people are more comfortable with change than others. Many 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 growth and innovation challenges they face. Although change is a good thing, it is also a stressful thing.
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 which IT is asked to produce. Most of the time, the changes IT makes in response to 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, and reductions in force just plain hurt. That hurt leads to non-productive behaviors and poor performance. What some may not realize is that often IT is informed of these changes before the rest of the organization due to the need to make broad systemic changes to support them. Many times, they have to execute on these changes without the benefit of public forums or discussions. This cycle leaves IT wondering without the benefits 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 the love for an old system grows (despite years of complaints) when faced with the prospect of it being replaced for new one? 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 be managed on multiple fronts.
Change management is a term that is bantered around 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.”
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.
The first step in leading through change is to understand and address how people are impacted. People impacted by change go through an emotional curve 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 model. When I look at the model, it brings back the same emotions I have experienced during major change or loss.
As I stated earlier, individuals deal with change differently. Some go through it quickly, while others take much longer. The challenge for leadership 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.
With that being said, we will be starting a new series of conversations on change management. I am not an expert on the science and discipline sides. Therefore, I will be reaching 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.
I am here if you have questions.
Until next week!
ITeffectivity LLC was founded in 2013 with the mission of helping IT Leaders bring order to their ever-changing world. Since then, Mary has advised over 80 leaders on behalf of Fortune 100 firms to small non-profits.
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach
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