by Byron Connolly

Why change management doesn’t work

May 22, 20133 mins
Business Process Management

Change management is fundamentally flawed, according to Diane Dromgold, managing director at project delivery firm, RNC Global.

Speaking at the CIO Summit in Perth, Dromgold – who has spent the past 25 years at the coalface of change – told attendees: “We’ve been doing change management now since the 1980s and frankly, it doesn’t work.”

Over time, change management has become about “acceptance, adoption and adaption,” said Dromgold.

She said when it comes to change management, organisations have invented a system based on several assumptions. These include that life is static and organisations can rest when goals are achieved; tools can be developed to manipulate behaviours among groups; and people know how to do their jobs.

“I know there are thousands of people in Australia who don’t know the purpose of their job – they think their job is about getting the right tick in the right box,” Dromgold said.

“They don’t know that their purpose is to get information to flow through the organisation and out the other end.”

Dromgold also questioned the assumption that people don’t want change. “From the day we were born we wanted change; if we didn’t want change, how would we have learnt to crawl? It’s a false assumption that has led to a lot of pain in the workforce.”

She provided a few tips to help them deal with change management issues. Top of the list is for IT leaders to never embrace ‘change management’ again and remove the phrase from their daily vernacular.

“Change is a ‘from-to’ and we are not doing that anymore,” she explained. “We are enabling people to keep up, roll with the flow, adopt and adapt as we move along. You will need training and communications but they are much more easily understood by senior management and easier to get funding for.”

Dromgold also suggested IT leaders should “never write another position or role description”.

“Our positions came out of the bureaucratisation of the workforce where we scientifically looked at all the processes inside an organisation and worked out all the flows through them and jobs in them.

“What it effectively does it allow the HR department to put that person and their job in a box. If that job has to change, you’ve now got a problem because you have hired someone who’s happy to be in a box.”

When hiring, Dromgold looks for people who are asking what the organisation is trying to achieve and how they can fit.

“I talk about contribution and say ‘I want you to bring with you, your ability to do .Net, Java, project management, comms – bring those things and over time, you will be in a whole lot of places,’” she said.

Lastly, Dromgold said organisations need to spend less time documenting what has been delivered and accept that things are rolling.

“Change the narrative, change the conversation within the organisation and IT starts being seen as much more successful,” she added.