Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Value of Assessing Readiness in Change Efforts

First off, I have to say that I personally find the term "change management" irritating for some reason. I find myself shaking my head every time I see the term come up in plans or initiatives. Maybe it's because I'm reacting to underlying principles or philosophies of dealing with knowledge workers that are still overly rooted (implicitly or explicitly) in the scientific management method. Maybe it's a reaction to strategies and approaches that seem to draw way to heavily on Pavlov and Skinner to guide human behaviour in an organizational setting. Or maybe it's that the concept of control features prominently in definitions of management, and I wonder about the amount of control that can really be exercised in changing culture in complex, unordered systems that are today's organizations.

Nonetheless, I think there is much value in looking at the concept of change "readiness" at both the organizational and individual level.

To achieve an agreed upon end-state, does the organization have the right roles, responsibilities, policies, structure, processes and work flows, governance and accountabilities, and physical environment.

Do the individuals involved or implicated have the right awareness and understanding, capability, information and contextual knowledge and comfort level to perform effectively at the end-state.

(Reminds me of Situational Leadership in some ways.)

I was always impressed how JetForm (purchased a few years back by Adobe) had an Organizational Readiness Office with very talented, dedicated people, responsible for ensuring that the entire organization, and reseller channel, was ready to market, sell, distribute, consult on, and support JetForm products and related services.

In 2000, the Canadian Federal Government created the Organizational Readiness Office to build greater information management, information technology, and service delivery capabilities across government to better enable successful large-scale change and modernization initiatives.

Looking to manage change, start with readiness.

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