Dec 31, 2013

Some Applause, Please!

Posted by Allen Young in Culture & Change Management | 0 Comments

Kick off the New Year right by learning how to manage change effectively.

When I initially received a PDF draft copy of PMI’s “Managing Change in Organizations: A Practice Guide,” the first thing I did was cry out “It’s about time!” The concept of organizational change management (OCM) has been around for quite a while now and over the last decade or so has become recognized as a key factor in project and program success. Just a seedling during the heydays of implementing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems in the 1980s, OCM has grown into a mature and sturdy tree since then. Several firms such as Prosci specialize in it, and more and more companies are starting to establish OCM as an internal capability—including staffing up with OCM specialists who are added to project teams when needed. Consulting firms such as ours have embedded OCM concepts into their products and practices; project and program practitioners are starting to seek out formal OCM certification.

Even given these advances, there are still thousands of firms and practitioners who struggle in this area. Well after the OCM risks have surfaced on their in-flight, mission-critical, cross-functional projects they realize they should have done a better job of addressing the “people” aspects of change, and not just the technical or process aspects. It usually only takes one well-designed, well-documented, technically state-of-the-art Client Relationship Management (CRM) implementation that the salespeople hate and resist using ... or standing up an enterprise-based Project Management Office (PMO) in an organization that already has departmental PMOs, inciting heated arguments over turf and authority ... or a Project Portfolio Management (PPM) tool implementation that project and program practitioners will only use to make status reports look good, while clinging to older tools to actually manage their work ... then, suddenly, OCM gets the attention of management. The last thing any company can afford to do during this current economic period of reduced sales, tight budgets, “do-more-with-less” and “lean & mean” approaches is spend significant chunks of time and money to introduce change that won’t be adopted or utilized. For the uninitiated, PMI's new guide is their introduction to the light!

After the Applause, Some Critique

While I found the guide to be somewhat dry and repetitive, especially since it had separate chapters on how to integrate change management into portfolio, program and project management (which all started to look the same after a while), I thought it was pretty good overall. In fact, Chapter 6, which specifically covers change in project management, has a table in it in sub-section 6.2.4 that is somewhat similar to the one I created for PM Solutions, showing what kinds of OCM tasks typically occur during the project management life cycle by project phase. The biggest difference is my table includes specific template-based deliverables that should be produced at each point along the way, and PMI’s isn’t that granular. (To view my table, click on the image at right.)

One section within Chapter 3, which is where the guide covers overall change management the most, it mentions assessing the organization, but really doesn’t get into exactly how that’s done; and thus it also doesn’t get into what to do about problem areas. Recognizing that this is still just a practice guide, and not necessarily PMI’s final word on OCM, I feel it could move closer to a standard by addressing these gaps in more detail. For example, a common shortcoming is sponsorship; it’s either missing, too low in the organization, the person isn’t right for the role, it doesn’t cascade sufficiently through middle and lower management layers, and/or it isn’t sustained through the entire project life cycle and beyond.

PM Solutions’ OCM assessment questionnaires cover the following domains: sponsorship, culture, resistance, history, change agents and targets. Once all areas of risk within these domains are identified and analyzed, our consultants can then recommend ways to help our clients mitigate them. While I’m not going to “give away the farm” by providing all of our trade secrets on OCM assessments, I will give an example for each domain to give you some idea of what’s involved in the next blogs in this series. Stay tuned! We'll kick off the New Year right by learning how to manage change effectively. (That was one of your resolutions, right?)

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