Two events this week have prompted me to produce this post and it just highlights what those of us who practice ‘change management’ know already – it is the people who matter if you want to bring about lasting change in your organisation. Sounds obvious I know, but two conversations this week have made me realise that I appear to be in a minority in knowing this!
The first conversation was at a financial services client where I am supporting a technology project to automate administrative processes. In a meeting with two software developers discussing how to get their systems to talk to each other, it quickly became apparent that technology was not going to be the barrier; the main issues were in using different language to describe the same things and dealing with ‘users’ (i.e. real people!) and how they relate to new systems. The outcome of the discussion – “it is all about the people”.
The second discussion was at another client, this time a law firm, where again I am supporting a number of process and organisational improvements. One improvement has been taking far too long to implement, largely due to the difficulty of developing a small piece of automation software which will make a massive difference to the Finance department. The IT team didn’t understand the first specification, wouldn’t accept how the Finance Manager wanted to implement the change and so it went on for weeks. Eventually an automated solution was developed that everyone was happy with. Now this week the same IT team have delivered a similar solution to another part of the business in a tenth of the time, plus they agreed to write the specification!
The question I was asked is why were IT much more motivated and committed in the second scenario? The answer is simple ‘it’s all about the people”. Firstly, IT wanted to create the solution because they were feeling the pain of the broken process in the second department. With the Finance problem they were remote and had no personal involvement in the current process or buy-in to the solution.
So if you want to get change implemented quickly and effectively here are some thoughts to help things along:
- consider the people first and the technology second
- change will be far more effective if people can feel real dissatisfaction with the current situation (see my post on the change equation)
- do not force your solutions on people, plant an idea and get them to come up with the solution themselves. It may take longer to plan and define the change, but the eventual benefits will be achieved a lot quicker
- people will be much more motivated when they themselves can get something back from the changes they have helped implement
And finally remember that change is all about the people!