“Everything changes and nothing stands still.” – Heraclitus, Greek philosopher, circa 500 BC
“Change happens” – they knew it 2,500 years ago and we know it now. And along with that, we have heard again and again that the best approach is not to resist change, but learn to manage it effectively. But how to do this? What does it mean for organizations to “manage change effectively”?
Change comes from many internal and external factors. It could be a deliberate force, such as from new management or a company growth initiative; at other times, it comes unbidden from circumstances such as an economic downturn or competitive pressure. No matter what the cause, every organizational change has its own unique characteristics; an understanding of these will help make change an effective force in your organization’s success.
We have much experience implementing change at organizations – after all, installing a new application or custom project can have a significant impact on a company. We often have to work with legacy applications and users familiar with older programs. Our goal is to make our installations successful and managing change is an important aspect of that. We would like to share what we have learned over the years about how ”change done right” can have the most positive effect on an organization and bring about the highest user adoption rates.
Change? Get O.V.E.R. It!
Here are four easy-to-remember terms to help you get O.V.E.R. it!
O – Organizational Culture (Are others open to change?)
A company’s culture is a significant determinant of how change will impact the organization. To generalize, a start-up culture is typically not as risk averse as an established company — startups thrive on change as part of their rapid growth curve, whereas well-established companies have invested time, effort, and money into processes and systems that cannot be readily replaced or modified. Flexibility is often sacrificed for stability; when the need for change comes, the transition may not be an easy one.
Companies are change averse for many reasons. Organizations may have experimented with a different approach in the past and, as a result, got burned. Negative experiences can take a long time to heal, effectively making companies much more hesitant to try a different path, even when the “right decision” is painfully obvious.
If you are in an established company, what cultural considerations need to be addressed before enacting change? Often, laying out the reasons behind the change and getting those affected on board needs to be done well before implementation can begin. Or maybe, gradual or incremental change is the best approach – it all depends on the “O” factor: Organizational Culture
V – Value of Change (Should we change?)
Will change really help? More than a few companies have enacted broad changes simply for the sake of “doing something different,” without any real regard for whether it’s the best decision for the company. In order to be effective, the value of change needs to be carefully quantified and analyzed. We’re not necessarily talking about monetary value (more on that later) but, rather, will your organization be better off or worse off after the change?
This question has found some answers in the field of data science. Forecasting the future is not just a job for fortune tellers; data science analysts have long been collecting, cleansing, and formatting data for predictive analytics purposes. Such technology, exemplified by Microsoft Office Graph, is used to produce intelligent content (i.e., predictive) based on historical data. Change Management evangelists are starting to use this technology to help organizations understand the impact of change and, specifically, the value that it may (or may not) bring to their corporate clientele. Forecasted results help organizations understand the long-term scope of their proposed changes and, consequently, determine the best course of action.
E – Effort (Does the effort required make change worth it?)
All change requires some level of effort, whether that means employee training, hardware replacement, or a re-vamp of company policies. Even if the cultural obstacles have been overcome and the change brings legitimate value, one must still ask, “Is it worth it?” In other words, how much effort is required to enact change?
Not everything in business is straightforward: a proposal may save a company time and effort over the long-term, but the cost of its implementation may render those long-term benefits moot. Determining the viability of a change-based proposal requires an objective analysis of all business areas that will be impacted while keeping an eye on the bottom line. When the level of effort surpasses the ultimate benefit, then it’s time to head back to the drawing board.
R – Return on Investment (Will change be profitable?)
Of course the most common driver of deliberate change is monetary. In a competitive environment, corporations need to provide value and increase revenue while being mindful of expenses. A non-profit may need to expand services or operate more economically. One or more of these ingredients are the usual instigators driving organizational change.
In the world of retail, gone are the days when marketing consisted of placing a product on a shelf and “seeing what happens.” Careful consideration goes into all aspects of marketing, from brand development to accurate pricing. This process consists of constant change on a micro-level — continually modifying marketing elements (e.g., target audience, message, inventory, logistics, and cost) until a point of revenue optimization is reached.
On a larger scale, organizational change may take the form of major policy shifts designed to fundamentally alter the way a company does business, such as changing a business model. These types of major changes are almost always revenue-driven.
Whether small or large, the decision to implement change needs to be filtered through another criteria: will the change increase our ROI? Simply put: if we spend $X, will our return be $X + a large enough $Y?
Consider all the Factors
Successful organizational change is never a smooth process; there will be challenges, obstacles, and plenty of opinions from all stakeholders. Riding out those waves requires a fundamental understanding all of the factors considered when making change-based decisions.
As you consider the O.V.E.R. acronym for successful change implementation, you will notice that intelligent decisions involve the savvy navigation of all four factors. For example, the (E)ffort of implementing change may be too great due simply to the (O)rganization’s Culture — in other words, the rank & file may mutiny if the proposed change goes through.
Likewise, a change proposal may have an intrinsically high (V)alue (i.e., everyone would absolutely benefit), but the (R)OI may make the change unprofitable in the long-run. Hitting a homerun on all four factors may be too much to ask, but balancing them while improving the long-term success of your organization is usually more than enough to give your new change proposal the green light.
Crow Canyon Systems has 18 years of experience assisting organizations in leveraging their existing infrastructure, rather than requiring new hardware & technologies. We specialize in building upon your collaboration platforms, such as SharePoint and Office 365, in order to give your Help Desk and Support Staff the tools they need to provide assistance without the need for additional infrastructure.
Want to learn more about how our solutions can transform your SharePoint experience? Give us a call at 1-888-706-0070 or contact us by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org