In today’s fast-paced business world, organizations and their teams are often required to quickly roll with the punches, accepting changes to business processes, tools, workflow and personnel with almost no time to take stock.

We thought it was about time to roll out a series of blogs where we discuss change management, what it is, how to prepare your teams for changes both big and small, the different models, principles, processes and strategies that organizations use to approach change management, and ways to soften the blow across the board for people and infrastructure alike. So, here’s #1 in the series, defining change management, and looking at how to achieve a successful organizational change management project, alongside the change management principles that should never be ignored.

Here is a breakdown of everything you need to know about organizational change management:

  1. What is organizational change management
  2. Why Does Organizational Change Management Matter So Much?

  3. Organizational Change Management Principles

  4. Organizational Change Management Models

  5. Organizational Change Management Process

  6. Organizational Change Management Tools

What is Organizational Change Management?

Defining change management is not a simple task, as the term can mean different things to different people or industries. But in the IT world, change management usually means how an enterprise will prepare for a shift in workflow, processes, structure, or culture.

Would it surprise you to learn that according to a Forbes study 85% of organizations believe that change management is essential to the success of a disruptive addition to the business? This could be anything from big organizational change such as moving from on-premises architecture to the cloud, medium-sized changes like adding automation or data analysis to day to day workflow, or even small changes such as a new security tool or compliance application.

Why Does Organizational Change Management Matter So Much?

Ultimately, the success or failure of your business hinges on the morale and support of your employees and your customers. By failing to prepare these two groups for changes to your identity, culture or processes, you’re doing yourself a disservice. In fact, the more prepared you can be – the better.

McKinsey Research estimates that “as many as 70% of change management projects fail to reach their initial goal”. Yikes. Employee resistance is a large part of this, and many believe that this kind of block stems from ‘top-down’ change management processes. These are often spurred on by a manager or even a C-suite employee announcing a change, and encouraging the rest of the organization to jump on board, both practically speaking and in terms of enthusiasm and effort.

In our current IT reality, the pace of change has never been faster, so organizational change management needs to be able to jump this hurdle to meet the challenge head-on. This is where some key principles can make a real difference.

Consider Organizational Change Management Principles

Make ‘Cross-section’ Decisions: If you’re a manager looking into making a change, even if you don’t technically need to run your decision-making by anyone, look for communication and feedback from every level of the business before you sign on the dotted line. It’s more usual for the CEO to chat with the CFO or the CISO before they make a big change, to understand the financial or compliance implications of a choice for example. However, talking to junior product managers or developers could explain more nuanced issues such as cultural implications or important communication steps that could have been missed if a solution is only discussed at board level.

  • Show Your Working: It’s amazing how many changes are made without the visibility that a business needs to make sure they aren’t jumping into the deep end without a rubber ring. It’s no wonder that your staff don’t feel confident about a new endeavor. If you’re using change management technology such as application mapping to plan ahead for a business change, make sure that this comes with a report that’s easily shareable to your teams, giving them the peace of mind that you know exactly what you’re doing.
  • Keep Checking In: Most business changes aren’t one-time acts that can be done, and then forgotten. Especially if your staff have been working a certain way for years, change can have a ripple effect that keeps coming back to frustrate or unsettle them. Communication is key, and it’s important to encourage personnel to talk about what they are finding difficult, without fear of being told they aren’t a team player.
  • Deploy Cheerleaders: Balance this reality with various members of staff that can champion new changes, without being fake of course. Think about who is going to really benefit from the changes that you’re making, and look for different stakeholders that can be vocal about their success with the new technology, tool, or methodology. This could be high-level aspirational staff such as VPs or managers, but equally it could be loyal receptionists or secretaries, or even customers.
  • Be Both Rational and Emotional: Your employees need certainty from you, but they also need understanding. That means you’re not going to get very far by saying “This is the new reality – deal with it” but equally, saying “I understand how hard this is, we will keep thinking on it” is a recipe for disaster. The right strategy has to be a careful balance of the two, protecting your company culture and your staff morale, at the same time as clearly explaining that you’re forging ahead, and why.

Pick Your Change Management Models

In this section we’ll show you how to make change management work in practice, including the different change management models and strategies you should know about, and how to create a practical change management plan that suits your own business reality.

We often work with customers that are going through a significant change, such as moving infrastructure to the cloud, or planning for a merger or an acquisition. One of the most important factors in whether they make a success of their organizational change, is how prepared they were in advance, and whether they implemented or utilized well-known change management strategies. Let’s take a look at 3 of the best-known change management models, and why each one might be a good fit for your business.

The McKinsey 7S Framework: Developed as far back as the late 1970’s, there’s a lot to love about this model. It looks at 7 areas that could be impacted by any large change, and how these need to work in collaboration with each other for a successful change. These are, Strategy, Structure, Systems, Shared values, Style, Staff and Skills. By defining all of these aspects of your organization ahead of time, you’re much better placed to anticipate challenges.

Potential challenge with these kind of change management models: In the 1970’s, systems were one of the easiest of the 7S’s to keep track of, but how times have changed! Today’s business reality means finding technology that can discover a hybrid ecosystem, and all of its dependencies, is a must-have.

Lewin’s Change Management Model: The Lewin’s model focuses on employees, and imagines the process of change like a block of ice. If you want to transform that block of ice into a cone shape, you need to go through three stages. First, you unfreeze the block. This refers to breaking down the existing way of doing things, and creating the right message for why it’s happening. Then you put the water in the correctly shaped mold. This is where you implement the change, a time where employees will feel unsettled. Lastly, you freeze the ice into the new shape, correlating to solidifying the change in your team, and showing them the new, stable normal.

Potential challenge with these change management strategies: ‘The transition trap’ is where employees get stuck in the refreezing part of the model, unsure why the change was necessary or how to let go of the old way of doing things. A strong change management plan that includes proof that you’ve looked before you leap can make all the difference in promoting confidence and stability.

The Deming Cycle: Also known as PDCA, this is a simple model that works really well for process improvement. The theory is simple, a cyclical change management plan that covers four stages. ‘Plan’ is where you decide what needs changing, ‘Do’ is making it happen. ‘Check’ is assessing the impact of that change, and ‘Act’ is where you see if more change needs to follow the initial decision. In theory, this is one of those change management models that can keep going forever, implementing incremental change across the business in a number of areas.

Potential challenge with PDCA change management strategies: In a complex IT environment, it can be problematic to leap before you look, as this model suggests. Consider moving the ‘Check’ part of the model to before the Do, with the help of smart mapping technology that can accurately forecast the impact of a change, before you make it.

Create Your Change Management Process

Each stage of your change management process will need its own specific tools, so understanding the stages is a really important precursor to choosing the right technology and support. Take some time to think about each stage and what it means for you. Remember, in an ongoing change management journey, these steps will be cyclical.

Change-Management-Process

Assess: Pinpoint specifically what needs to be changed, and complete change impact analysis, readiness assessment and planning.

Manage: Align leadership on the new direction, and manage stakeholder expectations and goals for the new changes.

Train: Think: who is going to be impacted the most by these changes? Set up knowledge transfer, and organize change coaching where it’s needed.

Measure: Measure the success of your changes by your own specific parameters, from ROI, compliance, or time savings, to company morale.

Communicate: Recognize how to communicate the need for additional change within your company at every necessary level.

Design: Choose how these changes are going to be put into place, utilizing your change management center of excellence to build out a plan.

Choose Your Change Management Tools

Now that you’ve created a change management process for your project, it’s a whole lot easier to see where the gaps are. Hone in on exactly the areas you need to augment with technology, education, or change management tools, and it will be a whole lot easier to get the support that you need to make it happen. Let’s look at a few examples.

Change Management Tools – Culture Mapping for Effective Communication

Understanding how to communicate effectively across an organization is no easy task, but culture mapping can be a great way to get there faster, and with intelligence rather than guesswork. Start by naming the subcultures in your organization. This could be teams or departments, such as IT, Sales, or Marketing, or it could be types of people, such as Legacy staff, Millennials, Remote workers, and more. Now choose representatives that you feel speak for each group accurately.

Start talking! Interviewing these representatives will help you understand what their goals and fears might be, what organizational blockers they need to get past, and what success looks like to them. Once you’ve noted down how they feel, you can use this as a launchpad for the ‘Communicate’ and ‘Manage’ parts of your change management process.

Change Management Tools – Train and Measure Using an Engagement Platform

Keeping to the cyclical nature of any change initiative means having your finger on the pulse of what your staff are feeling and thinking about the new projects you’re undertaking. One way to show your teams that you’re serious about feedback is by utilizing some kind of collaborative platform such as HowSpace. Employees are encouraged to document how they’re feeling about new changes, and everything can be used to feedback into the product or organization to improve any given solution. Create discussions, polls, tasks and more – and manage your change management from end to end.

Other change management tools to look out for include the Change Compass, a great data visualization technology that maps the impact of any change in terms of risk, market growth, or operational efficiency. It can be really effective when it comes to less practical measurements.

Change Management Tools – Assess with Incisive Visibility and Control

Of course, your bottom line has to be being able to see what the impact of a change will be, assess dependencies and complete impact analysis beforehand, as well as following through after the fact and measuring the differences, for example when handling a cloud migration or a merger or acquisition. That’s why the cornerstone of a change management process is your hybrid dependency mapping, one core centralized place where you can see all of your IT ecosystem at a glance, from cloud based deployments, to VMware, on-premises servers and systems, and all the dependencies of how these work together.

This change management tool might be the most important investment you make. The right one will help you to complete essential extras, such as right-sizing your instances for a migration, or drilling down into specific dependencies for impact analysis.

Still need help with your change management process? Here at VNT, we love helping customers with a complex change management roadmap, so why not give us a call, and we can show you just how simple we can make it for you.

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