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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.

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

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.

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.

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.

This blog first appeared on DXC Technology Blog


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Mike Revitt

Author: Mike Revitt

Mike Revitt is the global head of Managed Platform as a Service at DXC Technology, with an emphasis on our Oracle partnership. Mike ensures successful deployments of enterprise solutions, drawing on his nearly 30 years of IT experience. Under Mike’s leadership, customers benefit from flexible, scalable, hybrid cloud solutions that address their business challenges and meet their own customers’ demands.