Organisational Change – is it an option?

The implementation of IT Service Management and adoption of best practice as per ITIL will involve organisational change.  Organisational change is hard because it involves people but this is no reason to ignore it in the hope that it will go away. It won’t! It is not an option.

We consultants as the “change agents” cannot make the organisational change happen. It cannot be delegated to “outsiders”. Change is an inside job. Although outsiders like consultants might provide valuable ideas and input, people inside the organisation must accept responsibility for the change. The consultants cannot act as your scapegoats.

When an organisation commits to making the change the message has to be that change is not an option. People generally do not like change. It is unsettling and unnerving and is often a fear of the unknown. Therefore if you give people the option to change they won’t. The message is often “we would like you to change”, “please change”. This will not work. The message has to be “you will change”.

The leaders of the change need to recognise that change is a personal thing. Everyone is different and will respond to change in different ways. People will change at different speeds. Everyone has to be given time and support to make the change.

People need to be involved in the change so that they feel that they have had input. Communication is crucial. It has to be made totally clear what the organisational change is and why it is being done, how it is going to be achieved and what impact it will have on people.

Everyone needs to be involved. Get staff to identify those things that will aid the change and those things they believe will get in the way. Use the positives to make the change happen. Address the negatives in a systematic fashion. Do not be afraid to discuss the un-discussable. A threat to the change that everyone perceives but no one is willing to talk about is most damaging to the organisation.

Getting staff involved in the decision making process will lead to greater commitment and achievement of the goals of the change. Staff can identify issues with the change that you had not even thought about and would have not addressed. But best of all staff can offer their skills and knowledge and identify solutions to issues to which you did not have the answer.

Not getting people involved and just railroading the change across the organisation will ensure that the change does not happen. Do not downplay the human pain of change. This insensitivity to peoples feelings will not only ensure that the change fails but will destroy morale and loyalty along the way

So in addition to involvement, what else will help make the change happen?

Reward good behaviour not bad behaviour. Do not focus wholly on those people who are not making the change but pay attention to those who ARE making the change. Reward them for that. Don’t underestimate the power of peer pressure. Seeing others being rewarded for making the change will encourage those who were reluctant to also get on board.

Reward teams not individuals. This strengthens teams as it encourages teamwork and collaboration. The stronger ones in the team will mentor and coach the weaker ones to ensure that the team gets its rewards.

Make sure you change the reward system. If you reward people for what they have always done, that is exactly what you will get -–how it has always been done.

Managers of change have to recognise that the organisation is not just made up of organisational structure and technology – it is made up of individuals with different personalities and roles. The managers of change therefore need to be able to handle all the variations and this will require empathy, energy, commitment, time and patience.

The leaders of change need to lead by example or “walk the talk”. People are not going to demonstrate behaviours that they do not see in their leaders.

Without management that recognise that change only happens through people, the change will not succeed.

Implementation of IT Service Management and ITIL requires more than just processes and tools. We consultants can design you the most effective and efficient processes and identify the best tools to support those processes, but without addressing the people issues the implementation is not going to work.

It is like leveling a three-legged stool. You need to get all three legs right at the same time if you don’t want to fall on your backside when you sit on it!!

Of course, there will always be the “hard case” – those who can’t or won’t make the change. These people cannot be ignored. They need to be dealt with otherwise the chances of success will diminish.

Perform Problem Management on these people! Determine what the underlying cause of the problem is and deal with it. Determine where the misalignment is and address it. Make sure you have channels of communication open with these people. Until you do that, you cannot work with them to make the change.

Take time to re-evaluate yourself. It might be that you are bringing out the worst in them and you may need to change the way in which you communicate.

If the problem persists, you may have to stage a formal encounter with the person to deal with the issues. This may lead to a dismissal but at least you will know why.

Of course, all this is extremely time consuming, and many of you will have IT departments or businesses to run. However, dealing with these issues is not separate from your job – this is your job.

At the end of the day, you will gain time as you will have reduced the problems and can start to move forward and make the organisational change and implementation of IT Service Management a success.

But remember, as IT Service Management is a journey of continual improvement, likewise, organisational change can never end.

MACANTA can help you with your organisational change journey. Our Process Maturity Assessment includes an assessment of organisational readiness for change.

Karen Ferris is a Director of Macanta Consulting and can be contacted at

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