Gartner AADI: Best Practices in Managing Change

Presenter: Jeff Hiatt, Prosci

Jeff isn’t with Gartner, so this session should be different. It’s already started well his use of these green and red cards we all have. He’s asked us a few questions and asked us to raise either the green or red cards. It’s made it very easy to see answers instead of the usual hand-raising approach.

His first statement on his slides is: “The speed of technology deployment will not be gated by IT innovation, but rather by the ability to manage the people side of technology changes.” Absolutely!

He just walked us through an exercise where we wrote down a project name, its purpose (why are we changing), the particulars of it (what we are changing), and the people that will need to change how they work (who will be changing). He pointed out that most technology professionals don’t consider the last column and really struggle with answering it, but yet not dealing with it can stymie the entire effort.

We just did another example where he asked the audience how many people have managing the people side of change as part of their job responsibilities, and there were about 10 people who said yes. That’s a big problem if this can be the biggest challenge in being successful.

We’re now walking through some best practices for managing change. The first deals with sponsorship. Jeff called out how sponsors need to be actively engaging throughout the lifetime of the project, building a coalition of support for the change. He especially emphasized middle management, as their research has always shown that middle management is the most difficult group to change.

Item two was having a structured approach the managing the change associated with the project. I don’t know that I’ve ever been on a project that had this, although, one challenge we have in IT is actually having visibility into that. If the change required is in the business side, often times that is invisible to IT. That, in and of itself, is a problem.

The third item is communications. Of course, face-to-face communication is important. Another important this is who delivers the message. The preferred sender of change messages is one of two people. For business messages, it’s the CEO or President. For personal messages, it’s the employee’s direct supervisor.

The fourth and fifth items were dedicated resources for change management and employee participation. We were all scoring ourselves as we went through this, and in the end, we used the red card/green card “visual vote” and it was very clear that about 95% of the people in the room were at risk for having poor change management. Definitely a very clear message, the real question in my mind is how to get IT visibility into the change that our solutions will introduce into the business. This strikes a chord with me, since I’m a big proponent on involving end users from my background in usability. Good talk!

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