Thursday, April 4, 2013

Vexing change

In a recent discussion about the difficulties of effecting change, I wrote this:

There are these vexing issues about change management generally:

·         The business is not stationary while the change is ongoing; thus it’s difficult to fix cause and effect. Sometimes only a loose correlation is possible.

·         Project success—in the sense of change project—and business success—in the sense of the impact of change on the business—are often confused; the success (or not) of the former may be evaluated quite differently than the success (or not) of the latter, all the more so because the latter takes much longer to evaluate… so which success/failure are we really addressing?

·         Success/failure is too often measured by evaluating consumption of input according to plan—as in cash flow—without regard to earned value of outcomes.  (Debate: If the outcomes are acceptable/successful, but the input consumption is over plan, is the project successful or not? Some say there must be success of both input and output; others only evaluate the output)

·         Leaders and managers are largely trained in process mechanics, less so in the psychology of change, whereas the issues that dog large scale change are weighted the other way around: more psychological than process mechanics

·         Leaders and managers fail to grasp that change and opportunity are nearly synonyms, and that opportunity is the flip side of risk (See Chapter 11 of PMI PMBOK). Thus, when addressing the opportunity offered by change, they are also taking on the risk attendant to the opportunity. They fail to grasp that the body of knowledge re risk management has a lot to offer to the manager addressing change—like for example game theory and options management.

·         And, finally, when has the business reached post-change steady-state such that we can say: the change has occurred and is fully internalized in both culture and operations?

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