Month: February 2020

The Art of Change Management

The Art of Change Management

Excellent article here from Gordon Kedslie about how organisations can sensibly prepare to “conquer change”, including three top tips:

  1. involve the right people early on, getting buy in on changes from key stakeholders
  2. ask the hard questions up front, including where we are today and where we want to be in the future
  3. if it involves new technology definitely consider a testing or sandbox environment, where technology version 2.0 can be safely trialled in a controlled environment before exposing changes to customers or the broader organisation.

Whole article with thanks to

Change Management is a tricky thing. You balance the needs of the client with the restrictions of their organisation.

Defining the desired outcome is key, yet often overlooked.

“According to Mckinsey, 70% of change programs fail to achieve their goals, largely due to employee resistance and lack of management support.”

Change management is a uniquely important discipline for organisations of all sizes. For companies operating at scale though, something as simple as a new configuration for its support software can have unintended consequences across multiple teams, functions, and geographies.

It’s important for organisations to be able to quickly innovate and adopt new features and solutions, while not creating chaos in the process.

The good news is that with some upfront planning and the right tools in place, companies don’t need to be afraid of change. When done properly, change is a positive experience for companies and customers alike. Here are a few tips to help any organisation conquer change:

Involve the right people

When it’s time to actually embark on a change management journey, it’s important for companies to understand the impact that the process will have on the people in the organisation.

This includes involving the right groups early, getting buy-in on changes with key stakeholders, defining a clear plan for communicating change to the organisation, and having a roadmap to onboard the organisation to new workflows.

Ask the hard questions upfront

The first step for executing a change of any scale within an organisation is a clear-eyed assessment of where the company is today, where it wants to be in the future, and an agreed-upon set of goals and objectives against which to measure its progress.

Before embarking on any changes, the company should audit its current solution and customer experience. It’s important to understand how and why the current solution was implemented, what technical trade-offs were made, what worked well, and the challenges that are prompting the change to begin with.

This is also the right time to assess what suppliers a company is using and begin working on a plan for how to roll out changes to the organisation once implemented.

Consider a testing environment

Most mid-to-large enterprises have unique set-ups and custom configurations for their internal systems. With so many variables and internal dependencies, it can be easy to wreak havoc on even the most well-oiled of machines when testing and implementing new solutions.

One of the most powerful tools for companies looking for a safe, efficient way to make changes to their workflows is an environment dedicated to testing new workflows and solutions.

A testing environment (or sandbox) separate from the live environment where companies can replicate part or all of their systems, including automation, metadata, and customer information. Sandboxes allow companies to experiment with changes to their system in a controlled environment before exposing changes to customers or the broader organisation.

Working in a sandbox removes much of the risk of implementing changes to existing systems. Sandboxes are an ideal way to experiment and innovate while minimising disruptions and operational risk to the current production environment.

Sandboxes also allow companies to test their changes before rolling them out. Since sandboxes replicate a company’s actual live environment, they allow developers to understand everything about what will happen when the changes are pushed live.


This is key in particular to internal buy-in.

The first step is to develop a written communication plan to ensure that all of the following occur within your change management process. Each is important when you are asking people to change their former ways of doing things.

  • Communicate consistently, frequently, and through multiple channels, including speaking, writing, video, training, focus groups, bulletin boards, intranets, and more about the change.
  • Communicate all that is known about the changes, as quickly as the information is available. Make clear that your bias is toward instant communication, so some of the details may change at a later date.
  • Allow time for people to ask questions, request clarification, and provide input.
  • Communicate how these changes will affect them personally. If you don’t help with this process, people will make up their own stories, usually more negative than the truth.
  • Communicate the reasons for the changes in such a way that people understand the context, the purpose, and the need.
  • Provide answers to questions only if you know the answer.
  • Publicly review the measurements that are in place to chart progress in the change management and change efforts.

Training & Workflow

Alongside communication, consideration must be put in place for training where appropriate, as a source of frustration would manifest itself from users’ inability to make the most of the new workflow and tools.

Certainly, consideration should be made in bringing in 3rd party companies that can help with this process, dependent on the change itself, and whether resources can be dedicated internally to these activities.


A disciplined approach to change management can help companies of all sizes tackle even the most complex transitions with confidence.

By taking the time to align its people, processes, and technology with its business objectives, organisations can increase the adoption of new workflows and solutions, leading to happy internal stakeholders and customers alike.

Whole article with thanks to

Due diligence matters

A great Case Study here on what can go badly wrong if you don’t get your M&A integration planning right. 

Thank you to Sukand Ramachandran of the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and ITPro.

When dealing with a merger or acquisition there’s a lot for the boardroom to consider, from potentially differing business cultures to the rationalisation of technology platforms and people. 

And it only takes one small matter to be overlooked for a security breach to happen, with potentially serious consequences. 

For example, within a few days of completing a takeover deal by hotel chain Marriott, Starwood announced a security breach. This resulted in a 5.6% decline in Marriott’s share price and, ultimately, a £99 million fine in the UK from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Whole article with thanks to

Ensuring cyber security during mergers and acquisitions

A lack of due diligence when bringing two companies together can lead to major IT and security issues down the line

Almost all organisations face significant cyber risks, but the dangers are higher in certain scenarios, such as during mergers and acquisitions (M&As), where you’re looking to bring together two independent domains of technology from businesses that may have very different levels of risk.

The types of risk at a business where most of the information and data is protected behind ring fences are very different from an externally-facing, customer-orientated business where there are lots of points of interaction, notes Sukand Ramachandran, managing director and senior partner at the Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

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“In the past everything was using either one or a handful of monolithic platforms protected physically in a data centre and with limited access,” Ramachandran tells IT Pro. “In today’s very different world we have multi-layered protocols where web services may run on cloud platforms and there may be layers of middleware. Every little stack, and interface with the stack, creates points of vulnerability to consider.”

Due diligence matters

When dealing with a merger or acquisition there’s a lot for the boardroom to consider, from potentially differing business cultures to the rationalisation of technology platforms and people. And it only takes one small matter to be overlooked for a security breach to happen, with potentially serious consequences. For example, within a few days of completing a takeover deal by hotel chain Marriott, Starwood announced a security breach. This resulted in a 5.6% decline in Marriott’s share price and, ultimately, a £99 million fine in the UK from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).Advertisement

According to Tim Hickman, a cyber and privacy lawyer at White & Case, points out that in its ruling the ICO criticised a Marriott’s “failure to spot a significant cybersecurity vulnerability in Starwood, due to an alleged lack of due diligence”.

“In light of this, every business needs to put appropriate resources into investigating cyber security defences to ensure that any significant vulnerabilities are detected,” he says. 

Put together the right team 

Due diligence is often conducted by a group of technical experts and legal advisors, but in the experience of Jo Stewart-Rattray, founding chair of SheLeadsTech at ISACA, the right people aren’t always involved from the start.

“Acquisitions are sometimes transacted under a cloak of darkness and the CIO and/or the CISO are not necessarily included in the due diligence team. Therefore, issues may not be discovered until after the sale has been completed,” she tells IT Pro

“I’m currently dealing with issues that have appeared as a result of an acquisition, in fact I’ve been brought in to deal with the legacy systems that are problematic and exceptionally elderly, which in themselves are causing issues that potentially have cyber implications. This could have been avoided by a more thorough due diligence process in which the senior security and technology leaders were included to be able to assess the risks prior to acquisition.” 

The solution is to put together a robust due diligence team at the very start, ensuring you have the individuals with the key experience, knowledge and skills in place. According to BCG there should be a designated officer in charge of leading cybersecurity efforts throughout the M&A process, which is often the CISO. They should put in place a team of area experts who can provide in-depth assessments in areas such as penetration testing and data audits. 

Evaluating risk is key, and it’s important for both organisations to understand their infrastructure security based on the software, systems and architecture and prepare a risk control matrix. This way the level of cybersecurity risk can be identified and minimised before the merger or acquisition notes Professor Muttukrishnan Rajarajan, Director of the Institute for Cyber Security. “There are also predictive risk modelling methodologies that can be used to understand future threats based on the nature of the businesses,” he adds. 

Have a clear strategy in place 

Once past due diligence and onto announcing the merger or acquisition, the team should have a clear 100-day plan in place; the short-term strategy. Ramachandran advises that with a clear view of the ‘hot spots’– the points of high vulnerability – the team can focus on securing these and putting in place, and maintaining throughout, robust access management and cybersecurity protocols. 

He also notes this is the time to assess the business’ ability to respond to cyber events and recommends roleplaying cybersecurity scenarios with different parts of the business; no matter how busy executives are defining the new organisation. “This helps to ensure they’re also thinking about cyber security risk, as we ask them what their response protocol would be if they had a breach on day four.”

The long-term strategy should then revolve around establishing a more detailed integrated security strategy and governance which includes clear security roles and responsibilities, and, of course, ongoing staff training. 

Raise awareness 

So many things are happening during M&As that sometimes some of the above steps can be forgotten. The amount of change is vast, but it’s imperative not to ignore the inherent cybersecurity risks and ensure cybersecurity is a key part of the merger or acquisitions framework.

“Tuning into these risks will help leaders naturally prioritise,” says Ramachandran. “They’re figuring out what to spend their time on once they know how important it is. It’s just a question of raising the awareness inside an organisation of how critical a cybersecurity incident can be,” he concludes.

Whole article with thanks to

Due diligence matters
Tips for Overcoming Resistance to Change

Tips for Overcoming Resistance to Change

Whole article with thanks to

In support of any organisational change initiative, really good change managers arrive with an easy to follow list of what to do, and what not to do.

My personal favourite when planning how best to overcome resistance to change is ‘Be honest and open about personal impact’. When leaders explain to staff why it is that we have to change, it is far easier to get people to adopt new ways of working.

If you like top tips, Darleen DeRosa shares her own top 5 on overcoming resistance here in B2C.

There’s no question that change is hard for any organization. Unfortunately, many change initiatives fail to achieve their goals.

Whole article with thanks to

There’s no question that change is hard for any organization. Unfortunately, many change initiatives fail to achieve their goals.

Overcoming resistance to change is usually high on the list of many leader’s concerns, which is understandable given that making any kind of change is next to impossible without sufficient buy-in throughout the organization. A good change management plan, however, should already have several strategies in place for overcoming resistance to change and be prepared to answer tough questions about the process.

5 Tips for Overcoming Resistance to Change

1. Set Realistic Goals
Change management is difficult under the best of circumstances. It takes time to overcome organizational inertia and change longstanding practices. Setting overly ambitious goals will only place additional pressure on the change management team responsible for implementing the initiative and the employees who are impacted by it.

The situation is only made more difficult when there is no track record of success when it comes to change management. If the organization has tried to make changes in the past and failed, people will be skeptical that the current goals are achievable. While leadership often wants to undertake radical transformations, setting their goals too high or being too aggressive with the timeline can be barriers. By setting more modest and achievable goals, it’s easier to demonstrate to stakeholders how the organization can successfully move from one point to another.

2. Expect Resistance
If there’s one certainty that accompanies every change initiative, it’s that there will be resistance from somewhere. Change management requires leaders to think about how the changes they’re proposing will impact others. It’s easy to become wrapped up in the broader view of issues, focusing on how the changes will benefit the organization as a whole while failing to consider what those changes could mean for employees.

Simply brushing aside concerns and expecting employees to “deal with it” is a recipe for disaster. Many of those employees will need to buy into the changes in order for them to be successful. Without that buy-in, organizations can expect to deal with varying degrees of opposition or even lower levels of performance as people deal with the problems created by change. Consulting a wide range of stakeholders beforehand can help to minimize resistance and provide a good idea of what kind of resistance should be expected. The people being impacted by change should be involved early and often to help improve decision making and buy-in. Forming a cross-functional team with representatives from these stakeholders to facilitate dialogue can make it easier to manage potential resistance.

3. Understand the Reasons for Resistance
There are a variety of reasons why people are resistant to change. Fear is usually the biggest motivator, especially if there is a great deal of uncertainty about how changes will affect people. In other cases, resistance may be the result of interdepartmental or even interpersonal rivalries. If leadership has not made a strong commitment to change, it can often be difficult to convince established and experienced leaders to shake up the status quo. And, of course, it’s also worth pointing out that sometimes resistance is a completely rational and necessary response to a change initiative that was not well thought out and has little possibility of success.

When addressing opposition to change, it’s important to first identify the underlying motivations of that resistance. In some instances, resistance could simply be due to a lack of communication. More often, the disruptive effects of major organizational changes are much more fundamental, forcing people to move outside their comfort zones and worry about their future. By identifying concerns and connecting them to resistant behaviors, it’s easier to address specific issues and effects associated with change in ways that are both reassuring and empowering. Leaders should also keep in mind that the questions and concerns they perceive as “resistance” may be a natural part of the transition process as employees work to understand how the changes will impact them and prepare to make them.

4. Make the Case for Change
When an organization rolls out a major change initiative, it’s usually in response to a significant challenge or problem that makes it difficult to move forward. Longstanding stakeholders often don’t see the need for change thanks to status quo bias. They may point out that the organization has always done things a certain way in the past and that those practices have served it well. While this may be true, it fails to ask the critical question of whether that will continue to be the case in the future.

The burden falls to change advocates to lay out the necessity for changes, explaining why the changes are necessary and what they will enable the organization to do going forward. It’s important to remember that not all employees have the same perspective. While things may seem to be working well in their own department, they may be oblivious to problems elsewhere or not even realize how their own practices are far less efficient than they think. Whatever the reason, it’s important to be able to explain to them why difficult changes are necessary from more of a “big picture” perspective.

In addition to making the business case for change, leadership needs to be clear about how the changes will be executed. Realistic goals and time frames should be established. Leaders must allocate sufficient resources and be transparent about what the plan will look like in practice. When employees feel like they know what’s going to happen, they can better prepare for the transition and manage the demands it places upon them. Leaders should also be up-front about the potential challenges that may develop along the way so no one feels blindsided when obstacles emerge.

5. Identify and Involve Non-Supporters
Implementing change shouldn’t be an exercise in authoritarian leadership. Simply forcing people to make changes will generally lead to much greater resistance in the form of disengagement, turnover, and negative behaviors. One of the best ways to secure support for change initiatives is to identify the people who are not supportive of change and incorporate them into the process.

This approach is largely inspired by models of positive conflict resolution. Even if the non-supporters do not manage to dissuade anyone from their efforts, they will be more likely to support the process if they feel like their voices were heard early on in the process. In some cases, their feedback can bring much-needed perspective to the change management team and help it to refine plans in ways that are much more likely to gain widespread support.

Making changes of any kind to an organization is a difficult process. Even minor changes can be incredibly disruptive and should not be taken for granted. That’s why it’s critically important for a change management plan to have a solid strategy in place for how to manage resistance in all its forms. Failing to address these challenges in the planning stages can result in significant delays and other problems later in the process, potentially endangering the success of the project itself.

Whole article with thanks to

How to Adapt to Constant Changes: Create It

Great read here on the benefits of organisations building in house capability to manage change.

‘To get ahead of the competition, organisations need to flip the script on change and enable employees to lead change themselves’.

Thank you to Mara Hoogerhuis and Jillian Anderson for sharing.

Full article with thanks to

As leaders well know, constant change is the new normal in today’s workplaces.

As a result, organizational agility is increasingly evasive. It’s no longer enough to react to disruption — or to delegate change management to HR or other internal functions.

To get ahead of the competition, organizations need to flip the script on change and enable employees to lead change themselves.

To prepare their people to help lead change, leaders need a workplace culture that lives and breathes adaptability — a culture with agility in its DNA.

A truly agile workplace culture empowers employees to think on their feet and spearhead innovation with ease.

Leaders must fundamentally alter their approach to change management to create an adaptable work culture. Modern change realities require modern change strategies that prioritize the human capacity to thrive in a state of continuous change.

The Behavioral Economics of Change

Traditional change management focuses on processes and tools — the logistics of “what is changing” and “how it will change.” Change management typically is about minimizing disruption, and it often underemphasizes the behavioral side of change.

The thing is, this approach doesn’t work when disruption is constant (which might help explain why more than 70% of corporate change initiatives fail). While processes and technology are important, the true opportunity that traditional change management misses lies in liberating people to create and sustain change.

In today’s ever-fluctuating work environments, the workplaces that win are home to change leaders. The ability to initiate and navigate change should permeate all levels of the company, not just the C-suite. Of course, this is a tall order — one that requires a nuanced understanding of the behavioral economics of change.

Gallup defines behavioral economics as “the mathematical description of the role human nature plays in just about everything.”

When leaders understand human emotional dynamics — including mindsets, behaviors and cultural norms — they can create a work environment that energizes people to get ahead of change and push the organization forward.

Shifting Your Mindset on Change

The Mindset of Managing ChangeThe Mindset of Leading Change
Drive change from the top down.Inspire change at all levels.
Prioritize the structural aspects of change.Prioritize the behavioral and cultural aspects of change.
A manager’s role is to inform employees about change.A manager’s role is to coach and empower people to create change.

How to Create a Change-Leading Workplace Culture

Here are four ways leaders can foster change leadership and encourage their employees to own disruption.

1. Involve, trust and empower your people.

Leaders can motivate employees to accelerate change when they cultivate and integrate employees’ ideas. To source these insights, leaders should broaden their internal networks, give employees and managers a voice, and develop employees at all levels.

Leaders also need to entrust employees with autonomy. Employees need far more than information to guide change locally — they need authority, coaching and accountability. For example, leaders should involve managers and employees who are affected by change as early as possible and ensure employees understand the importance of their role in the change.

Ultimately, leaders can develop employees into agents of change by consistently demonstrating that employees’ ideas and contributions matter.

2. Prioritize manager development.

Managers wield tremendous influence over how well employees adopt and sustain desired behaviors. In fact, Gallup data show that managers account for 70% of the variance in team engagement — a critical driver of discretionary effort.When managers serve as coaches, not bosses, they fuel engagement and inspire employees to move away from their routines and adopt new mindsets and behaviors. To position managers as coaches, leaders should invest in ongoing manager development — and most importantly, give managers the freedom to coach their team members.For example, managers who are overwhelmed with administrative responsibilities will find it difficult to fully invest in one-on-one coaching conversations. But when leaders support managers with the right tools and performance expectations, they can unleash managers to strengthen employee awareness, adoption and accountability.

3. Use analytics to get ahead of employees’ perceptions and emotions.

Emotions primarily drive decision-making, not rational thinking. In fact, 70% of decision-making is based on emotion and 30% on rational thought. This can be problematic because change can cause mixed emotions among employees — from fear and uncertainty to anticipation and excitement.Leaders should use multiple channels to understand employees’ emotions and perspectives, including ongoing dialogue, employee analytics and feedback mechanisms. With in-depth insights, leaders can adjust their strategies, grow employee buy-in and disseminate best practices.For example, through individual conversations with key stakeholders, leaders can glean success strategies from early adopters and early resisters. And with qualitative and quantitative data on their people’s change readiness, leaders can discover ways to unify employees behind a change initiative.Because managers are responsible for inspiring change locally, leaders should involve managers in feedback collection and give them access to real-time employee analytics.

4. Create a culture of learning.

A disruption-ready organization never stops learning and growing. To lead change, employees must repeatedly adapt to new discoveries and shifting demands.Leaders should create processes and cultural norms that propagate rapid experimentation, adaptation and collaboration. Siloed learning won’t create a culture of change leaders; leaders must ensure their people are aligned and working together to drive success.Further, leaders need to use performance management practices that promote ongoing communication and coaching between managers and their teams. The right performance management solutions enable managers to keep employees “in the know,” manage role expectations and inspire desired behaviors.

Disruption in the world of work is here to stay. It will continually alter workplaces, workforces, workspaces, workflows and workloads.

Only leaders who respond to this new norm by disrupting their own philosophies and strategies about change can position the heart of their organization — their people — to continuously adapt and excel.

Mara Hoogerhuis is a Senior Workplace Consultant at Gallup.Jillian Anderson is a Subject Matter Expert at Gallup.

Bailey Nelson contributed to this article.

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How to Adapt to Constant Changes: Create It