Develop or adopt a strategy for change

Figure 11.3 Change Management Plan the associated change that will impact the organization. This commitment may be in terms of how they communicate with the rest of the organization, how they deal with challenges and issues, and the amount and quality of resources made available. In addition, sponsors must be effective leaders. If the project fails because the organization cannot adapt to the change, the project's envisioned value to the organization is lost and the sponsor's credibility is diminished. As Conner points out, "they lose twice."

Change Agents In the most basic terms, the change agents will be the project manager and team; however, others from inside or outside the organization may be involved as well. An agent may be an individual or group responsible for making the change happen in order to achieve the project's goal and objectives. Change agents report directly to the sponsor and must be able to diagnose problems, plan to deal with these issues and challenges effectively, and act as a conduit of communication between the sponsor and the targets of change. The ability to sustain the change associated with the IT project rests largely with the change agents. They must be ready and properly prepared to meet the challenges they face.

Targets The target is the individual or group that must change. In general, these may be the users of the new system or those who will use or be directly involved with final product of the project. Conner uses the term "target" because these are the people who are the focus of the change effort and who play a critical role in the ultimate success of the project.

Although the project sponsors and change agents play important roles in supporting and carrying out the change effort, the dynamics associated with the targets of change become the most critical. Therefore, the willingness, ability, and readiness to change also rest largely with the change targets. This may require: (1) clarifying the real impacts of the change, (2) understanding the breadth of change, (3) defining what's over and what's not, and (4) determining whether the rules for success have changed.

The project team and sponsor often do not think about how the planned change and transition will really affect people within the organization. As described in the previous section, change often brings about endings and a sense of loss of control. The project team and sponsor should take the time to think about what various individuals or groups stand to lose. For example, perceptions of loss may include power, relationships with other people, stability, or even control. As a result, people may become confused and disoriented.

Change within an organization can affect different things in different ways. Leavitt's model, as illustrated in Figure 11.4, suggests that changes in people, technology, task, or organizational structure can influence or impact the other areas (Leavitt 1964). These four components are interdependent where a change in one can result in a change in the others For example, a change in the organization's technology (e.g., implementing a new information system) can impact the people within the organization (e.g., new roles, responsibilities, etc.) as well as the tasks the individual's perform (i.e., the work they perform), and the organization's structure (i.e., formal or informal).

As a result of the planned change, people will go through a variety of emotions. On first learning of the impending change, people may feel shock, anger, and even denial. Later on, they may try to bargain or negotiate as a way of maintaining stability. This time is difficult because compromise, or appeasement, may seem to be a good alternative for avoiding conflict and resistance. Unfortunately, this tactic will only undermine the effectiveness of the change initiative. Therefore, it is important that a boundary be defined in a way that allows the change to happen as planned, but also allows individuals to "take something with them" by giving them something familiar to hold on to so as to ease the transition. This allows the past to be remembered with reverence and can also mark the end and the new beginning.

People become confused and disoriented when the rules for success change or are no longer clearly defined. Let's say that you have been working at a company for several years. Over that time, you have come to understand and become part of that culture. You know from your own experience and from those around you that promotion is based solely on seniority. As long as you meet the minimum performance requirements of your job, you know that promotions and the pay raises that follow will come arter working a specific amount ot time m a particular job. If the company ever has to layoff employees, you know that layoffs will begin with the employees with the least seniority. But what if the company you work for has been acquired by a larger organization? The acquiring company has decided to "make a few changes" and starts by downsizing the workforce in your company. But now each employee's performance will be reviewed and only the top performers will be invited to stay. You can only begin to imagine peoples' reactions. The rules for success have changed.

Develop or Adopt a Strategy for Change

Once the organization's capability to change is assessed, the next step involves developing or

Figure 11.4 Leavitt's Model of Organizational Change

adopting a strategy for change. Davidson (2002) provides four approaches to change management.

Rational-Empirical Approach The rational-empirical approach to change management is based on the idea that people follow predictable patterns of behavior and that people will follow their own self-interests. Therefore, a change agent must be persuasive in convincing, explaining, and demonstrating how a particular change will benefit a particular person or group identified as a target of the change.

It is important that the individuals affected by the change be provided with consistent and timely information. Consistent information means that the project team and sponsor send the same message to all individuals and groups throughout the organization. Mixed messages can lead to confusion and suspicion. Credibility should not become suspect. In addition, each message must be accurate and timely. Often the excuse is, "It may be better to wait until we have all the details." But, saying nothing at all can send the wrong message.

When people are not given enough information, they tend to seek information from other sources. Often these sources rely on innuendos, misinformation, and opinions, which become gossip that spreads through the informal organization. Stress levels rise until a point is reached where the organization becomes dysfunctional. It is better to be honest and tell people that there is no news before the rumor mill goes into warp drive.

Many managers believe that it is better to spare people bad news until the very last moment. However, it may be better to give people enough advanced warning to allow them to prepare for any upcoming changes. Then they can deal effectively with the gamut of emotions that will be brought on by the change.

The change management plan based on this strategy should provide each individual with the purpose, a picture, and a part to play. Purpose is the reason for the change. Often individuals within the organization have a narrow view of their job and its relationship to the rest of the organization. It may be useful to provide people with a chance to see or experience the problem or opportunity first-hand. For example, a person may be given the chance to witness how the current level of poor service is affecting the organization's customers. Then, it should be clear to that person that unless the organization does something (i.e., implement a new information system), it will continue losing customers to its competition. In time, the company will have to reduce its workforce or inevitably face bankruptcy.

A picture, on the other hand, provides a vision or a picture in the individual's mind as to how the organization will look or operate like in the future. If done effectively, this procedure can help the individual buy into the proposed change.

A part to play can be very effective in helping the individual become involved in the proposed change. Although purpose and a picture of the proposed change are important, it is also important for the individual to understand and visualize the part he or she will play once the change is instituted. Having a part may provide the needed WIIFM (or what's in it for me?) to help them through the transition.

Normative-Reeducation Approach The normative-reeducation strategy for change management is based on the work of Kurt Lewin. This approach takes the basic view that people are social beings and that human behavior can be changed by changing the social norms of a group. Instead of trying to change an individual, one must focus on the core values, beliefs, and established relationships that make up the culture of the group. For example, you may hear, "That's the way things are done

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Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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