by Chris Ward

How to get your organization to recognize the need for change

Feb 01, 2016
CIOIT LeadershipProject Management Tools

As a CIO, project leader, or IT manager, you might find it difficult to get your organization or project team to recognize the need for change, and the even greater need to control change. So, how do we handle it?

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It was the amazing and talented project manager entertainer Michael Jackson that once wisely said, “Make that change!” He also accompanied it with some dancing and singing, but the point of the song “Man in the Mirror” was that change starts with you. As a CIO, project leader, or IT manager, you might find it difficult to get your organization or project team to recognize the need for change, and the even greater need to control change. As my mentor used to say, “Controlling change can be a lot like herding cats.”

So, how do we handle it? We utilize the area of Organizational Change Management (OCM). When people understand change and how to control, maintain, and generally move it in a positive direction, you’ll find that your projects and services will increase their likelihood of success. For some of you, you’re nodding your head in agreement and high-fiving yourself because you’re on top of it. Some of you are shaking your head and saying, “I’ve read a bunch of articles and I still can’t get my team to understand that change is not necessarily evil.” OCM can be very effective. I’d like to point you toward two very effective methodologies that have helped me and a few organizations I’ve collaborated with on projects.

The first is Prosci’s ADKAR model. It was published in the Best Practices in Change Management – 2014 Edition. Based on 822 organizational change leaders in over 63 countries, the research found that projects were six times more likely to meet the objectives and budget when organizations managed the “people” side of change effectively.

Prosci’s ADKAR Model:

A – Make each individual aware of the need to change. D – Ensure each individual has the desire to change. K – Ensure each person has the knowledge in order to implement the change. A – Ensure they have the ability to change. R – Ensure the change is reinforced; sustain the change by making sure that people are continuing to implement the changes.

Having good communication and someone that is “sponsoring” the change throughout the life cycle will help make sure it moves through this process.

The second model is John Kotter’s 8 Steps to Successful Change. It’s been around for 20 years now and is considered a big part of ITIL® Continual Service Improvement.

Step 1 – Establish a sense of urgency. “If we don’t change, we will fail.”

Step 2 – Create a guiding coalition. “We can decide how this change will happen.”

Step 3 – Create the vision of the change. “This is what the change will accomplish.”

Step 4 – Communicate the vision. “Hey everyone! This is what the change will accomplish.”

Step 5 – Empower and enable action for the vision. “I’m giving you the authority and resources necessary to accomplish the vision.”

Step 6 – Get quick wins. “Look at what we’ve accomplished so far! We’re on the right track!”

Step 7 – Build on the change and consolidate wins. “Let’s take what we’ve done so far and make it even better.”

Step 8 – Institutionalize the change (make it stick). “This change has really improved our project/service/organization. Let’s continue to do this.”

You’ll notice that with both models, there is quite a bit of communication and more emphasis on the people involved rather than the technology involved. Both models also allow for heavy involvement of leadership at all levels and not just upper and middle management. That helps with sponsorship and ownership of the change, and it allows people to say, “this is actually turning out to be a good change.” With that sense of ownership and ability to be heard, your team will rise to the occasion. So, make that change!