Change management: The single biggest killer of business transformation

Behind every transformation is a story. In the world of technology, these stories are being told every day. From the small to medium enterprise starting its journey with automation, to the large organization migrating its heritage estate to the cloud, these changes are happening all around us.

Do these changes just happen? Does somebody press a big red button amidst rapturous applause and ticker tape raining down? Hell no. Most changes start with a pressing need or a big idea. They need planning, and in the world of technology, where the smallest change can cause unprecedented chaos, they need to be managed.

Change management is a critical path to business transformation. It needs to happen. However, it can be the biggest threat to business transformation and growth.

Ask Google how many transformation projects fail and you’ll be met with the same search result millions of times over: a 70% failure rate. Where this figure first originated is unclear, but like an urban myth it has propagated, disseminated and promulgated to the point where it is now regarded as a cold hard fact.

Don’t believe all you read.

The fact is that it isn’t the change in technology that is killing projects; it’s the change management processes within the organization. After all, if the technology is so bad, a solid change management process would stop it from being implemented in the first place.

It isn’t the change in technology that is killing projects; it’s the change management processes within the organization.

Take the organization that is struggling with IT modernization. They know they need to support increasing workloads without increasing costs. They see business rivals transforming all around them and understand that this is the key to staying relevant. However, when it comes to actually taking the first steps towards agility, unlimited scalability and reduced costs, they freeze.

Image courtesy of Alan O’Rourke

Why the freeze?

What causes this freeze? Well, cloud computing is certainly transformational, but it’s also a massive mindset shift. When you start exploring a consumption-based IT model you start to expose the real cost of IT and the human resource savings that could be made by transitioning. This can be a red flag for some stakeholders who are protective of their budgets, or indeed their jobs.

However, it is only by exposing these costs that you see the bigger picture. In fact, it’s often the things providing the most business value that cost the least money. The fact is that humans, by our very nature, do not like change. We reject it without question if it doesn’t suit our current mindset. Moving forward is essential for any business, but it’s important to get over this hump in the road as quickly as possible.

One way to view change in simplistic terms is to refer to the organization change model developed by Kurt Lewin in the 1940s. His Unfreeze – Change – Refreeze process used the analogy of altering the shape of a block of ice, and it’s a process that still holds true today.

The status quo needs to be broken, traditional IT models need to be challenged and the path to digital transformation needs to be validated and proven to stakeholders.

Unfreeze – The first phase of change involves convincing the organization to accept that change is critical, to re-examine its very core. The status quo needs to be broken, traditional IT models need to be challenged and the path to digital transformation needs to be validated and proven to stakeholders. System owner stories, user stories and application stories are key to change management in the cloud.

Change – In a perfect world the path from unfreeze to change would be clear, quick and painless. Unfortunately, just because change is essential it doesn’t mean people will agree it should happen. For the organization moving from on-premise IT to a managed cloud model, the technology needs to be proven, predictable and able to deliver on its promise without fail.

Refreeze – Digital transformation to the cloud is flexible, predictable and agile. Once transformation is complete and the new way of working has been embraced, it’s time to refreeze and allow the changes to sink in and become part of everyday business.

Change management in the cloud needs a different approach to typical change management processes. Taking the right path will help to ensure a predictable, repeatable and scalable migration and minimal disruption to your business.


Mike Revitt was the global head of Managed Platform as a Service at DXC Technology, with an emphasis on our Oracle partnership.

RELATED LINKS

Enterprise cloud and the business-aligned paradigm shift

Transforming to a digital enterprise

Gartner shows us a world of public cloud haves — and have-nots

Comments

  1. James Harrison says:

    The critical aspect of digital transformation is not the technology but the people. Moving from on-premise IT to a managed cloud model requires a shift in culture and behaviour across all levels of a business. As is rightly pointed out, just because change is essential it doesn’t mean people will agree it should happen or that when it does, they will use it in the way it is intended. Organisations need a clear strategy on how to manage the change and the willingness to accept ownership of the change in order to seek, build and maintain the appropriate buy-in to the transformation at all levels.

    Like

Trackbacks

  1. […] The number of abandoned and dead projects on SourceForge show us this. In fact, they make the 70% commercial project failure rate look amazing!  Many of these defunct projects have been dropped simply because they became too […]

    Like

  2. […] Change management: The single biggest killer of business transformation […]

    Like

  3. […] Change management: The single biggest killer of business transformation […]

    Like

  4. […] via Change management: The single biggest killer of business transformation — DXC Blogs […]

    Like

  5. […] Change management: The single biggest killer of business transformation […]

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: