Ask 100 people to define Change Management, and you'll get 100 different definitions. At the end of the day, the definition is just semantics. What really matters is whether you can implement a Change Management program in a practical way that allows you to support your organization in successfully achieving its goals. Whether you're a Change Manager, a consultant, or the tech. guy who was told to "figure out some Change Management stuff," this blog will help address common issues and topics you're likely to run into along the way.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Do We Really Need Change Management?

There is a great deal of skepticism among consultants and clients alike as to the necessity of Change Management.  Often they don't know exactly what Change Management is or what value it will provide, but they do know that it costs money.  Who can blame them for being reluctant to spend money without a clear understanding of the results they'll get for that investment?

Let's start this conversation with an exercise I use with my clients.  First, raise your hand if you've ever been at a company where they were implementing a new project (e.g., a new computer system, new business processes, organizational redesign).  Now, put your hand down if you've ever seen one of the projects fail.

I've never seen more than one or two hands stay up.

I finish by asking the group to share some of the reasons these projects have failed.  I consistently hear the same reasons over and over again, regardless of the size of the company, the industry, or the type of project.
  1. Management didn't support the project.  If my boss wasn't going to make the change, why should I?
  2. We didn't receive adequate training.  I didn't know how to use the new system/processes, so I continued doing things the old way.
  3. I didn't even know there was a project!  No one told us about the upcoming changes until right before the new system/processes were implemented.
  4. I didn't understand why we were making the change.  Taking the time to learn the new way of doing things didn't seem as important as focusing on my day-to-day job.
  5. Past projects have either failed or been abandoned.  This project will probably be the same.  Why should I waste my time learning about something we won't be using in a month?
It's unusual to hear someone say a project failed because the technology didn't work.  Instead, it becomes apparent very quickly that when projects fail, it is typically because they ignore the people who are impacted by the change. 

Each one of the reasons for failure listed above can be addressed with a strong Change Management program.  Whether it's a plan to increase Executive Sponsorship, a reminder that employees can't learn a new system through osmosis, or the generation of clear communications, Change Management brings the people-side of a project to the forefront.

Have you seen a project fail?  What was the main reason the project didn't succeed?

1 comment:

  1. The Scrum Guidance Body usually defines a process for approving and managing changes throughout the organization. In the absence of a formal process, it is recommended that small changes that do not have significant impact on the project be directly approved by the Product Owner. The tolerance for such small changes could be defined at an organizational level or by the sponsor for a particular project.