Project Management Connection:
Sample of PM601
PM601: How to make change happen
Change: How to make it so
In this course, youll discover some insights into how you can
make change happen in any organizationwithout costing you your
position in the organization. This is an extremely difficult task,
and one that brutally punishes those who attempt it and fail. In many
organizations, especially non-profit or volunteer ones, it even punishes
those who attempt it and succeed.
Successful change implementation is also potentially rewarding, which
is why so many people attempt it. Well reveal the methodology
for effective change to you, and illustrate many key points with case
histories. Lets begin.
As Stephen R. Covey says, begin with the end in mind. Change for
the sake of change isnt always good, but change itself always
carries a cost. Be sure you can justify tht cost before you start
incurring it. Before embarking on a crusade to change something, ask
yourself what you hope to accomplish. What do you envision as the
end result, and is that something you will be happy with? More importantly,
is that result valuable to the organization and to those whose help
you need to make the change happen? Once you have answered that question,
you can begin building the framework for the engine of change. Lets
look at how to do that.
Introduction: Building the framework
Before you can chart a course to a destination, you must know where
you are. Assess the present situation. What is it costing the organization?
What are the potential liabilities? What are the missed opportunities?
What are the benefits? Who are the constituents? What do they lack,
that a potential change will provide? What are all the good things
about the status quo? What are the things people are most likely not
want to let go of, and why?
Before you can chart a course to a destination, you must know where
you are going. This step is similar to the previous one, and
just as important. Assess the desired situationwhat will occur
with the elements of the proposed change in place. What will it cost
the organization to maintain? What are the potential liabilities?
What are the missed opportunities? What are the benefits? Who will
the new constituents be? What will be lacking in the new situation
that you have now, and what will the new situation provide that is
lacking now? What are people most likely to embrace, and why?
To get from beginning to end, you must chart a course. Whether you
take a direct route or an indirect route, whether you pilot, co-pilot,
or navigate will depend on many factors. This third step is much more
detailed than the other two. You cant ask just a few questions
and then be merrily along your way. But, just to set up the framework,
you need to estimate what steps you need, how much implementation
should cost, who the main supporters are likely to be, and who the
main detractors will be. Finally, identify those people whose expertise
and connections can best help you form a solid plan of implementation.
These people should serve as a sort of "Board of Directors"
for you. If you are a user trying to get your company to change its
e-mail program, then you need to recruit the person who works with
the present systemotherwise, you automatically set yourself
up as opposed to this person and you are in for a struggle. Well
look at recruiting next. Its a very touchy issue.
Part One: Recruiting people
Once you have completed the steps we outlined in the introduction,
its time to recruit some help. Look at the list of people you
have identified as possible "Board" members. Carefully think
through what is important to each of these people, then modify your
implementation plan if it needs to be more palatable to them. At least
consider their needs and priorities before approaching them. If you
dont know what those needs and priorities are, then youll
need to do one of two things. Either ask each individual directly,
or convene a meeting to discuss things as a group. This can be tricky,
because you may want to reject a potential board member and doing
so can send the wrong signals. The worst thing you can do is broadcast
a need for board members. Make the recruiting personal, and do it
in a planned fashion.
The order in which you approach these people can be, and usually
is, important. This is partially due to the "bandwagon effect,"
(people see a winning team and want to join) but other factors come
into play also. Start with a technical person, first. Technical people
arent usually as sensitive to political concerns, and can help
you ensure your plan is workable when you approach people who are
weaker technically but stronger politically. As you move up the food
chain, youll want your "ducks" increasingly in order.
So, it is usually best to start with those who can help you make a
solid plan. And then move on to those who bring other things to the
table. Lets look at an example.
Get a technical person
Bills company was using an old e-mail system that was just
terrible. Everyone hated the system. Bill put in a formal request
for an upgrade to Microsoft Outlook, but noted "Lotus Notes might
be just as good." He sent it to his management, where it soon
found its way into the trash.
After a couple of months, Bill figured his proposal died. So, he
decided to build a stronger case. He contacted friends at other companies,
and talked about e-mail systems. One friend, Barbara, put him in touch
with the technical person, Ted, who oversaw the conversion to Outlook
at Barbaras company. Bill called Ted and invited him to lunch.
Ted said he was too busy for lunch, but could take a couple of minutes
to answer some questions. Bill honed in on the difference in user
satisfaction and cost to the company since the conversion. Ted said
the difference was like night and day. "Ted, I really appreciate
your time. In my company, we are really having a struggle with this.
I would like to ask you if you would accept a 5-minute phone call
from our CIO if he decides to call you for some quick advice or just
your impression of things."
Notice how Bill set up a follow-up phone call. He was very quick
with his call to Ted, which leaves Ted feeling such calls are not
a problem. And he got permission for another person to call Ted, by
appealing to Teds innate desire to give advice or opinion. This
is a desire you can nearly always play on, because peopleespecially
technical peoplelove to give advice and opinions.
The next thing Bill did was e-mail the CIO with this message:
Subject: Getting you an attaboy
I found something I think will help you get a major feather in your
cap, as well as make a lot of people happy here at Interspect. You
have no doubt been pondering this awful e-mail situation. Well, I
know a fellowTed Mailer over at Cerncomwho went through
exactly the same thing last year. They are now using Microsoft Outlook,
and the users are extremely happy. Ted is tooI think this was
a major factor in his last review. Anyway, his number is 555-1234
and hed be happy to let you know what they had to do to get
such great results."
Next thing you know, Bill gets a call from someone in IT. "Did
you hear the news? Sams trying to hire an Outlook upgrade consultant.
We may finally get rid of SmokeSignals 5.0 for Windows."
In this case, Bill enlisted an outside technical person and an inside
technocrat. Theres probably not much else he has to do, but
he proceeds with more effort. His next step is to get some high-powered
clout. He realizes the CEO stops at the 2nd floor coffee
machine at about 9AM each day. So, Bill conveniently arranges to be
there. He gives the CEO a hearty hello, and gets one in return. The
CEO says, "How are you?" (Everyone says that.). Bill says,
very directly, "Id be much better if I didnt lose
so much productivity to SmokeSignals 5.0 for Windows. I sure hope
we update to a better e-mail program soonthis one must be costing
the company a fortune. Say, did you see where the Dow ended yesterday?
I didnt get my copy of the Journal today."
Bill does three things, here. First, he drops the bomb about the
e-mail, as though that is the one thing the CEO should be concerned
with. Then, he quickly changes the subject so the CEO doesnt
need to give some kind of excuse in responsehe takes him off
the hook. And he ends by putting himself on the same footing as the
CEO: concerned about money and profits. You can bet the CEO is going
to think about that e-mail problem on the way back to his office.
The first time that program crashes or displays some other unacceptable
behavior, hes very likely going to call his Chief Information
Officer (Sam) and ask, "When are we going to get rid of this
SmokeSignals 5.0 for Windows? The thing just crashed on me. No wonder
people are complaining about it. If we dont get this fixed,
the IRS is going to say we arent really out to make a profit
and theyll declare us a hobby instead of a business. So, what
are you doing about it?"
Now Bill has recruited his CEO, CIO, and a technical person. The
CIO, now under pressure, remembers Bills helpful e-mail and
calls Ted over at Cerncom. Ted, who is working 70-hour weeks, figures
Sam just wants some affirmation that the move to Outlook will be good.
Ted wants to do two things. One, he wants to keep from admitting he
screwed up by going to Outlookwhether this was a screw-up or
not, so hell say all good things. Two, he wants to get off the
phone, so he tells Sam what he thinks Sam wants to hear.
Sam, armed with Teds honest appraisal, now knows what course
he must chart. Thank God for that e-mail from Bill. Over the next
3 months, Sam tracks the number of service calls due to problems with
SmokeSignal 5.0 for Windows. Bill, anticipating this was going to
be the next step, casually drops hints to everyone about a potential
Bill, in the restroom: "I heard through the grapevine the company
is going to change our e-mail program if they get enough complaints
Rick: "zat so?"
Bill, "Thats what Im hearing. You know how that
crappy program crashes every time youre in the middle of something."
Rick: "Thats the truth! So, you mean if we let them know
about the crashes, theyll finally give us something decent to
Bill: "Yeah. I think we should both spread the word. If enough
people complain and we get a decent program, we wont have to
work as many hours."
At the end of the three months, Sam has enough ammo to put SmokeSignals
5.0 for Windows out of its misery. And so, Interspect goes online
with Outlook. Bill got his change made.
In this case, the change was not really that major nor that political.
Bill got it done with some benevolent tools of interpersonal manipulationand
not much else. So, this was an easy score. It could have gone completely
wrong, though. For example, if Bill came across as unduly negative,
"This company is screwed up
." Or if he appointed himself
as "the expert"thus insinuating he thinks the very
people in a position to help him have their heads up their buttshe
would have gotten nowhere. A change agent who steps on the wrong toes
this way gets either booted out of the organization or consigned to
A little more challenging
The larger the change, the more types of people you are going to
need to recruit. Bills recruiting of three major players and
subtle recruiting of his coworkers was for a change Bill would not
be personally administering. Lets look at a more complicated
example, and see how additional recruiting comes into play.
Linda is a manager in the accounting department. She heads up accounts
payable. Her payables on expense reimbursements are flow in a "lumpy"
fashion. As a result, her staff twiddles their thumbs most of the
month and then must work like fiends to get through an avalanche of
incoming work. Also, in some months the expenses run way over budgetsome
months, way under. Lindas first temptation is to fire off a
memo to the CFO, insisting that Jeffs expense reimbursement
group get their act together, work overtime, or do whatever they have
to do to even out both the work flow and the cash flow. "Whatever
they have to do?" Linda doesnt know what that might be.
She heads over to talk with Jeff. Upon hearing Lindas gripe,
Jeff explains what his people must deal with.
"We get these expense reports a month late, and
usually in bunches. Theyre hand-written. The sales guys fill
them out whenever they take a day at the office to do so. These all
wind up on a sales directors desk, where they get a cursory
examination and then a signature. These sales directors must synchronize
their watches, because they send this stuff in all at the same time.
Most of the math is wrong, and we can hardly read these forms. So,
we send a lot of stuff back, which causes further delays."
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