The best laid plans often go awry. As you dive into transformation, suddenly the project balloons. Simple processes become convoluted. How do you not panic and slip into despair? How do you stay on top of your game? In this episode of The Changemakers you’ll see what happened when our changemakers started executing their plans. How they went down the valley of despair and came out the other side.
Ian Leslie joined Dangote Industries with a clear remit: update its IT operations. The scale of the challenge was huge so Leslie and his IT colleagues looked for support. They brought in external consultants who advised them to roll out an ITSM platform called BMC Remedy. Leslie agreed to their suggestions and green-lit the project. Little did he know that the implementation was destined for failure.
Engineers said the convoluted system slowed them down. End users reported struggles to log tickets and track resolution. Usage hemorrhaged.
In change management, this is called the Valley of Despair. It’s what happens when plans meet reality. Productivity drops, engagement fades, and frustration builds. A lot of initiatives collapse in the Valley of Despair. Eventually, Dangote’s BMC Remedy implementation did, too.
Leslie didn’t let the failed project faze him. He reset Dangote’s technical foundation, redesigning its process manuals, designing new incident management processes, service request workflows, change management policies, and problem management plans.
With firm foundations, he embarked on another transformation—this one slow, careful, and intentional. Again, he ventured into the Valley of Despair. But this time, he emerged stronger on the other side.
Leslie’s journey took him to the extremes of change management. While our other Changemakers haven’t had to deal with projects collapsing, they’ve all shouldered similar stresses, strains, and burdens.
Sumit Kholi, Head of Collaboration Platforms at Education First, rolled out a new help desk platform to a brand new corporate headquarters—all on a four-month timeline. He used the project as a testing ground for wider change.
When it was time to overhaul the wider company’s infrastructure, he was ready to hit the ground running.
Then there was Colin McCarthy, who took a radical approach to make it through the Valley of Despair. From the outset, he admitted that he couldn’t identify every challenge, roadblock, or opportunity upfront. So he launched a lightweight system and adapted it based on feedback.
“There’s nothing wrong with setting it up and adjusting it on the fly,” says Colin. “It’s like the startup way of working: you throw something at the wall and see if it sticks.”
Listen to Episode Three: Let the Games Begin.
In this episode three, you’ll learn
- How neglected IT was at Dangote when Ian Leslie arrived: “When I first joined, company email went down for a week — literally seven days. People just moved to Gmail or Yahoo. There wasn’t any kind of uproar or outrage. It was accepted that IT wasn’t going to work and the systems weren’t going to work.”
- How Sumit Kohli harnessed the entire Education First workforce: “We gave people a feedback button. I read all the feedback and made a summary of the improvements that we could do. We had about 500 pieces of feedback from people, which helped us to make further improvements a few months after the new setup was launched.”
- Why Colin McCarthy opted to design his system live: “I was overwhelmed because I was being asked lots of questions: How do you want this queue set up? How do you want that queue set up? What should happen if this happens? I don’t know how we want it set up. You know what? I’m not going to overthink it. Let’s just set it.”
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