In IT and ITSM, we’re living in the age of change – and that change is accelerating.
If the birth of the internet was the start of this new age, we’ve now entered the next evolutionary stage: that includes a combination of cloud computing, mobility, big data analytics, robotics, predictive technologies and wearable devices.
The present rate of technological change is creating new capabilities that are highly consumable for people and businesses, which means that business models are changing and will do so perpetually. But what does change mean for organizations?
The challenge of organizational change
Having said that change is here to stay, there are people who don’t necessarily embrace – in fact fear – change, with its sense of uncertainty. Organizations can often underestimate the difficulty in introducing change to people who like things the way they are.
People can be suspicious of, and resistant to, how technological change will affect their lives, especially when observing children with their heads buried in laptops and other devices. However, they might simultaneously be using similar technologies – video calling for example – to connect with friends and family around the world. Getting past the negative connotation of change ultimately reduces resistance.
It begins in the boardroom
With the predominant demographic of the boardroom today being male and aged 50-plus, there is a risk that corporate leadership can be part of the resistance to technological change. And it’s being recognized now as part of the age of change that traditional business roles aren’t necessarily qualified to define and lead change. Certainly, organizations need people with a blend of skills and approaches: that includes the traditional, risk-averse, governance-based people with stability and security in mind alongside people looking at the latest thing to create change at a different velocity.
Both approaches are needed in two-speed, bi-modal IT and organizations need to grasp how these two worlds can co-exist and complement each other. But making change happen isn’t easy.
Getting organizational change wrong and right
At the root of failed organizational change is poor communication. This invites resistance to change based on an emotional reaction and lack of understanding.
Ensuring that the more traditional and the more agile sides of the organization can collaborate effectively relies on effective communication. This means addressing important questions such as: why are we doing this? What’s the justification? Who will it affect? What are the benefits? If these elements are not clearly understood at the outset, change is going to be painful.
With any major organizational change there should be an open forum to allow dialogue, feedback and transparency; aiming to overcome denial and anger about change as early as possible offers a better chance of acceptance.
You want change? It’s about behaviour too
IT departments, traditionally, have been guilty of thinking they are a law unto themselves. That is changing and more enlightened IT and ITSM professionals recognize that IT is there for the sake of the business. And with the rate of technological change that provides a golden opportunity for IT to step up and communicate in business terms; this is, in reality, an opportunity to lead rather than serve. The boardroom needs this to happen – to both foresee and handle the competition that’s coming their way.
And so IT needs to develop greater empathy and the ability to communicate change from a business standpoint. This means recognizing how change affects individuals on a personal level as well as its impact on departments and what they’re trying to achieve.
Developing the change professional
IT leaders need to be on the hunt for people who are not just technology-focused but are also business people who understand human to human behaviour. This is embodied in the rapidly emerging and critical role of the business relationship manager. A potential source of talent for this is the service desk, with the promise of a successful, future career in business relationship management.
Creating a pipeline of these people needs professional development today; helping the right people understand business, the customer view, the competition, profit, loss, new technologies and what it means to build rapport and learn how to influence. This way, they will shape, guide and define the technology that’s in demand.
Above all, this needs commitment and planning from leadership teams to create a culture and space for people to develop – and for people to be engaged, motivated and inspired to develop themselves.
Listen to Simon Kent debate the key causes of communication breakdowns regarding introducing change in the AXELOS Exchange webinar 'Why won't they buy into change?' . Join AXELOS' Professional Development Programme to access this and other best practice content to support you in your career development.