On Change

On Change

I’ve been reading Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath & Dan Heath (amazon affiliate link).   If you haven’t read the book…check it out…some good insight into why people change…and why they don’t.

The basic premise of the book is that most change efforts fail. Change efforts don’t fail just because the change wasn’t the ‘right’ change.  They don’t fail because the change management principles weren’t followed correctly or that leadership wasn’t driving change.

Change efforts fail…and they succeed.  No amount of academic thought, leadership or management principles will create successful change 100% of the time.

That said….there are a few things that can be done to help any change effort get started down the right path.

In their book, the Heath’s provide a fairly simple framework for change.  That framework is:

  • Direct the rider – What looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity.
  • Motivate the elephant –  What looks like laziness is often exhaustion
  • Shape the path – What looks like a people problem is often a situation problem.

Now…let me say this right up front…I hate the names given to these three ‘steps’ in the change framework.  Hate them.  Without understanding the context of their use, they make no sense at all.  Much like Jim Collins ‘get the right people on the bus’ analogy….what bus or we getting on?

Again…without context, this framework make no sense.

In essence…the framework is attempting to highlight that every person has two sides: a logical side (the rider) and an emotional side (the elephant)…without having a change plan in place that addresses both, that change might not succeed.

Once you read the book…it makes more sense.

Why Change?

I’m not a change management expert but I have worked on many projects that were driving major change within organizations.

I’m thinking (and writing) about change today because its something that many organizations and people are looking for today.

Organizations are looking for ways to cut costs, improve productivity, reach more customers, increase revenue, etc etc.

People are looking for changes of their own. Many are looking for a way to be happier.  Many are looking for a job.  Many are struggling to keeping their home…and many have lost their homes.  Heck..there are some folks in this world looking for change that will allow them to live a life free from violence and war.

Change is real…and required; especially for IT

Change has come before…and it will come again.

You’ll find it in your personal life and you’ll find it in your professional life.

If you’re like me and have come up in the world of IT and Technology, you’ve seen your share of change.  You’ll continue to see change too…the future of IT isn’t what we thought it would be.

Five years from now, will IT be the main technology driver / owner it once was…or will IT be more like the ‘facilities’ group within most organizations like Nicholas Carr has argued in Does IT Matter? Information Technology and the Corrosion of Competitive Advantage (amazon affiliate link).

Will IT matter in the future? I think so…there will always be a need for strong technical people within organizations…but will the IT group remain the central technology authority and technology management arm of organizations? Not sure about that.  Should it remain that way? Probably not for most organizations.

Like I said…change is real and change is required. And its coming.

Whether you are directing the rider, motivating the elephant, riding the elephant or watching that elephant do circus tricks…change within IT is coming.  The Heath’s book can help you understand how to manage and prepare for that change…or you can pick up one of the many hundreds of books on the subject…but don’t forget to do something once you’ve read the books.

For the CIO’s, IT Managers and IT professionals out there – what are you doing to prepare for the coming change?  Are you driving that change or waiting for it to drive you?