It can not be overstated how important it is to manage change. IT is frequently ground zero for major changes in an enterprise either by providing new systems and services or by changing those that already exist. In either case, change management can be the most important part of the transition. I’ve used the phrase that ‘IT pours concrete’ whenever we do anything. We also tend to break concrete, with all the associated destruction and chaos, when we change things.
I used to overlook this and think of it as a soft type topic that didn’t need much thought. Just send out an email and tell them what is changing. However, in the last few months as we deal with a major change, I’ve been reminded how important it is to manage the change. I’ve re-learned how important it is to be sympathetic to the person who has to do the actual change and to have concern for their viewpoint and needs and issues. It is not ok to just make a change that affects people without considering the impact on their day-to-day workflows and lives. Even if it saves money for the enterprise, it is still not ok and it is a recipe for disaster to not consider how changes effect other people and their lives.
It is really funny to me that the wikipedia article on Change Management is so lame. That is one article that needs to be updated. Please, someone go improve it.
So here are my thoughts on change management based on some recent experiences.
- Talk to people from the heart and acknowledge the changes you are asking them to do.
- Recognize that you are putting more work on other people to accomplish your goals. They may not be interested in helping you achieve your goals, but recognize that you are asking them for their help. Literally ask for their help.
- Do all you can to help them. Provide tools or support resources to help them. Maybe it is FAQs on-line or people on site to help them or just a friendly email, but help them get through the change.
- Keep working on it after the change. Thank them and keep helping them. Listen to their concerns before and after and keep helping.
- Help them understand the business reason for the change. Don’t just do change for the sake of change. If someone knows there is a good reason for the change, they are more likely to help.
Most people want to help and make things better. Just try to help them as they help you and the Enterprise through a change.