Over the past 30+ years, IMA’s change management experts have been helping organizations worldwide implement complex changes. From Mergers and Acquisitions to Shared Services to IT implementations, we’ve pretty much seen it all. One of the distinct advantages of our work is that we have an opportunity to get a bird's eye view into what is going on across global enterprises in terms of change management challenges and practices.
As change management and project implementation consultants, we’ve seen our share of unsuccessful attempts at change. These failed implementations happen for a multitude of reasons. Most commonly, organizations just don’t apply the same business-discipline and rigor for managing the human elements of their change as they do the timeline, the budget, and the technical objectives for the project.
Recently, IMA president Don Harrison led a webinar entitled, “Change Challenges: Extreme Edition” in which he discussed the extreme challenges faced by organizations during transformational change. For the past 30+ years, Don has focused his work on helping organizations to implement large-scale, complex changes in organizations.
Transitioning to a Shared Services model is one of the most common transformational changes we see in our Change Management Consulting work. The rationale for this type of enterprise-wide change is clear-- why support redundant services such as IT, Human Resources, Financial and/or Legal, in each organizational silo when there can be one corporate-wide resource that is shared? But… the question is… are organizations achieving true benefit realization from their Shared Services implementations?
Organizations are experiencing an astounding rate of business change. Changes designed to improve market share, competitive advantage, operational efficiency and shareholder return have multiplied at an alarming rate—so many projects chasing too few resources. In short, everyone wants to get better, faster.
One of the barriers to change is a lack of clarity around implementation roles and responsibilities. What are Change Agents accountable for? What about Sponsors? And by "Sponsors" we are talking about the entire management team ranks. When there is a lack of clarity around accountability, everyone thinks the next guy or gal is the person who is accountable. As Don Harrison, IMA President, says, "I used to think that this was a problem for Sponsors-- but now I realize that if no one is accountable, it is a very comfortable place to be!"
A common barrier to success for organizations seeking transformation is that there is inherent risk-aversion which becomes a cultural barrier to transformational change. If you are seeking to truly transform you just can’t do it if people are fearful of making decisions and taking some level of risk. One of the most common pathologies we see in organizations today is that risk-aversion has slowed down decision-making and progress to a virtual crawl.
The terms "transformational change" and "transformation" may be two of the most over-used words in business today. In our change management consulting work, we identify three different types of strategic change: