Avoiding Frequent Mistakes in Change Management

change management leitfaden

Twice every year, we are changing clocks to summer and winter time. A small change – yet one that has a noticeable effect on many people: many struggle in the days after with tiredness, sleep disturbance and difficulties with concentrating.

Man is a creature of habit. That is obvious in many everyday situations: In the office in the morning, many consistently pick the same cup. Also lunch often follows the same rituals. In the gym, the goal is always to get the same locker and the grocery shopping in the supermarket goes on autopilot. And woe, if something interferes with our usual procedures.

If you don’t Change and Adapt over time, you are out of the game …

What goes for everyday situations and rituals, also goes for the working day. We are reluctant to change, and yet we are always exposed to a need for change. Constantly new challenges and changing framework conditions require that organizations can swiftly and efficiently adapt. If you do not move with the time – and adapt – sooner or later, you are out of the game.

That is exactly why Change Management plays such an important role on all levels of the organization – as the ongoing adaptation of company strategies and structures, as well as the transformation and adaptation of a complex system and service landscape in IT. In both cases, Change Management aims at enabling beneficial changes to be carried out in a controlled manner, while minimizing the risk of negative impacts.

The Phases of Change Management

As early as the 1940s, the American psychologist Kurt Lewin presented a simple three-phase model for change processes in organizations and groups: In the first phase, all necessary preconditions for the changes are created and the present condition of the organism unfreezes.  In the second phase, the changes are carried out, while in the third phase the changes are accepted as the new norm, and the condition refreezes.

The best practice framework, ITIL, describes the Change Management process in a similar way: Changes are always first evaluated and released, then planned and finally implemented.

Frequent Mistakes in Change Management

Numerous experts have already dealt with the subject of Change Management in various literature, scientific papers, and at specialist events. Yet, typical errors are still made that stand in the way of a successful adaptation. Such errors are especially critical for IT.  After all, IT must keep pace with trends like digitalization and industry 4.0 to ensure the competitiveness of the business.

In the following we will take a closer look at three typical errors:

(1) Urgency and Assessment

In the first phase of a classical change process the main concern is to raise awareness about the urgency for the change. There is an issue, so something must change. Especially, when facing scarce resources, changes must be carefully examined in advance. You must, for instance, clarify which changes make the most sense in connection with reaching company goals, and which changes have the greatest benefits for the largest possible number of users.

The need for a careful cost-benefit analysis is obvious. Yet studies show that less than 30% of all changes rely on a robust cost-benefit analysis.

(2) Communication

Without communication Change Management will not work. This first starts with clearly showing all stakeholders the necessity of the changes. Because only when all implicated parties are clearly aware of the urgency and the value of a change, can it be effectively implemented. When changes are simply pushed on people from above, they are often met with resistance. When someone doesn’t realize the advantages of a change – they are hard to motivate and not likely to carry it out.

A clear communication, however, provides for more transparency across the entire change process and thereby also for the commitment from colleagues in the organization. On all levels, Change Management will profit from the consequent involvement of all affected employees – be it through improved motivation or constructive contributions to the realization of the planned changes.

(3) Overview and Resource Planning

Changes tie up resources and carrying them out often has significant impact on the daily business. Therefore, before beginning a change process, a careful resource planning should take place.

For an efficient Change Management it is important, first of all,  to maintain an overview of all ongoing and planned changes. And secondly, to keep in mind not only the resources within IT, but also the resources in the other affected departments in the organization.

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