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Author  Kevin Jones

Senior Advisor, Beyond20

December 14, 2021 |

 4 min read

  • Blog
  • Service management
  • Change management
  • Value
  • ITIL

Organizational change management (OCM) could be, I believe, to the 2020s what project management was to the 2010s in terms of managing change effectively.

And the past 18 months during Covid has made OCM both a rewarding and difficult reality. While it’s been a “gold rush” for OCM practitioners in well-prepared organizations, it’s been even more difficult in rigid enterprises.

Being forced to step away from office culture to remote working eroded much of the steadiness many organizations had achieved and forced them to confront the need for OCM, if they hadn’t already. Never mind the issues of domestic internet connectivity and remote schooling, this period meant even basic communications became challenging for companies.

Now, management teams are facing a new OCM dilemma: they had become used to their teams being at home perpetually and readily available for meetings; but hybrid working doesn’t guarantee that.

Company responses to the pandemic and change management have been as much about corporate culture as anything else.

Different values, different responses

If we take the so-called Competing Values Framework of organizational performance and its four key elements of Market/Control, Market/Compete, Clan/Collaborate and Adhocracy/Create, the organizations that responded best to change driven by the Covid-19 pandemic were those defined by Market/Compete: its short-term goals and quarterly reporting – and Adhocracy/Create with its entrepreneurial, risk-taking mindset – both are in near-constant change already.

Those defined more by Market/Control – with stricter hierarchies and uniform approaches – have faced a bigger challenge.

Organizations typically fitting the Clan/Collaborate definition – teamwork-based with a culture of deep human connection, such as in healthcare – could feel remote working was betraying their core principles.

Overall, I don’t think we’ve seen many organizations doing “standard-issue” OCM. The lack of a long-enough “runway” to adopt good OCM practice during Covid means it’s been more of a survival instinct. And this could appear brutal for staff, i.e. “comply or we’re all out of a job!”

Smart organizations adopting the pre-emptive strategies of OCM – such as ensuring employee awareness, desire for, knowledge and ability to change – have fared the best. However, in “change or die” circumstances, there is less time for the preparatory steps of a proper OCM response.

Now, it’s about leadership teams doing what they can to retain people while responding to changing market conditions.

OCM and ITIL 4

OCM is now established as one of the management practices in ITIL 4. So, how does this support the work of ITIL practitioners and improvement of service management in organizations?

In a “value-driven” organization, the practice guidance states, “stakeholders should adopt new ways of working and…minimize risks and possible negative impacts of any change to the quality of service/products and consumer experience”. It adds that “changes related to people require a high level of presence, consciousness, self-leadership and responsibility…”.

The human elements considered in the practice success factors provide a framework for managing change, such as:

  • People’s attitude to organizational change and level of resistance
  • Their satisfaction with procedures and communications
  • Acceptance and success of change.

What’s key is to create and maintain a change-enabling culture across the organization. Through staff surveys and individual meetings, you can keep your finger on the pulse by

identifying stakeholders and how to care for them as individuals. Knowing who they are and what they expect affords a better chance to deliver messages and show people what’s in it for them.

For service managers – and the nature of continual improvement in service management – this coming period in the workplace will involve an increasing velocity of change.

ITIL 4’s OCM management practice guidance can be applied to virtually any OCM methodology. And having robust OCM knowledge and skills will give service managers the critical tools to help people understand why their ways of working will change and how to adapt to them.