I am a student of the AIM Methodology of organizational change management. AIM is an acronym for the Accelerated Implementation Methodology, a proprietary approach developed and perfected by Implementation Management Associates, Inc. (http://www.imaworldwide.com). Pfizer included me in a pilot AIM training program after their Learning and Organizational Development group decided to deploy the methodology to the Research and Development Division. I became a vocal advocate and champion of the process, even sending one of my direct reports to school to become an instructor.
Don’t confuse this AIM with the other popular AIM, Oracle’s Application Implementation Methodology. Oracle’s AIM is essentially a legacy SDLC for the Oracle applications platform. The two AIMs couldn’t be more different. Also, don’t confuse organizational change management with project change management. Change management in a project context is very different from organizational change management. Project change management is a process by which changes to projects are formally introduced, vetted, approved, tabled or denied. An organizational change management method is not typically part of a SDLC or project management method although elements of organizational change management, such as communications plans, may be.
Organizational change management is about people’s behavior. Organizations are comprised of people and their behaviors formulate the accomplishments of the organization. Organizational change management explores behaviors to achieve greater results in performance which in turn drive bottom line value.
Just as IT system development methods share commonalities, so do change management methods. Regardless of the method you choose to follow, the core fundamentals of organizational change management are the same and must be observed if you want to achieve success.
Change management starts at the very top of the organizational structure. For IT, this starts with the CIO or CTO as he or she defines the strategic vision and goals. The CIO’s goals are aligned with the overall strategic goals of the organization as determined by the Board of Directors and the CEO with his/her senior staff. To successfully deploy an organizational change such as implementing a SDLC, it must be a strategic goal of the senior most leaders. As strategic goals cascade throughout the organization, it creates alignment with a clear and common language and understanding for the change.
Once goals are defined and distributed, assessing the organization’s readiness for change is the next step. How do you do that? Surveys are a good method. The goal of an organizational readiness survey is to uncover the barriers that exist within your organization’s climate, both current and historical. Barriers that may have impeded the progress of previous changes must be discussed to capture lessons learned. You’ll also want to uncover implementation strengths. What has gone right in the past that we can do again?
Identifying the approach you’ll take to implementing change follows the readiness assessment. You really only have two choices here. You can force your hand and generate compliance using the hammer approach or you can choose to build commitment and buy-in by managing the transition. On the surface, you may think the hammer approach is a little heavy handed and it may not be a good fit with your personal values. There are reasons where the hammer approach is the right approach. What if the change is due to regulatory, HR or safety compliance?
The second approach, transition management, requires more time to adapt a change. The organization becomes increasingly focused and the additional time allows for course correction along the way before implementation. You’ll gain greater buy-in, produce less waste and achieve greater precision in your implementations. Transition management is particularly effective when implementing changes in customer service, quality assurance and developmental paradigms such as the SDLC.
Organizational change will not happen efficiently without the right sponsorship. We’ve already talked about strategic goals cascading from the top down. Sponsorship is making certain the right people are doing the right things at the right times to demonstrate their commitment and ownership of the change. You’ll need an Executive Sponsor who has sufficient authority to authorize the change and commit the resources to make it happen. Then you’ll need Champions who can influence the organization’s commitments levels and Change Agents who’ll plan and execute the implementation.
Tomorrow, we’ll take a look deeper look at one of the most significant key success metrics of organizational change management: cultural fit.
Skip Ward says
Having been in global change projects for Shell Oil for 10 years, I have a few learnings to share.
1. There is a difference between leaders who say, “Yes, I approve.” and leaders who say “I not only approve, I will appear in a poster, engage in a webcast, do an article for our e-newsletter, hold a town hall etc.” In short, visible and active support is critical.
2. And even leadership team members who say initially, “approved” can do so without review of the pre reads or participation in the discussions. These folks easily change their minds and can ask for a stand down.
3. Champions have to know in advance exactly what is expected of them. They are at times nominated to be champions by managers who know little to nothing about the changes coming and have delegated down. Often a written “job description” is the best way around this issue.
I look forward to Part 2!