Call it culture, resistance to change, fear, politics or just old fashioned pig-headedness, but BPM initiatives are seldom without change issues and internal friction of some kind. And as we see BPM adoption increasing, there is increasing proof of the existence of such a thing called BPM Inertia. And it compromises the degree of BPM success.
It seems to me that almost any firm running a BPM initiative acknowledges the need for change management at the beginning, but not all of them actually take the effort to address it directly and methodically as the initiative rolls forward.
Here is a truth pill you must take: change issues threaten BPM success much more than you ever cared to admit. If you really want to tackle every force adversely affecting your BPM success, you need to stand up and look at that BPM Inertia in the eye.
Vendors and System Integrators will offload slide after slide of wisdom, frameworks and methodologies as you prepare your approach to tackle the change demon. All good and necessary, but IMHO, don’t get swayed – it’s all only like a recipe. You still need to figure out how much salt & spice works best for your family; what shade of rare, medium or well-done the meat should be, by considering each unique preference of those about to gather at the table.
The avatar that change issues might take is different in each organization. It could be a manifestation of one or more factors – those that may not be directly related to BPM or even Biz/IT. Not all of those will be evil, negative or wilful. They could simply stem from a lack of appreciation, or awareness of the nature of change or its benefits.
So an important ingredient that goes into the creation of a Change Management program is deep insight into organization culture, people, and a sense of understanding of cause and effect – all coming from a great position of strength – that of firsthand experience. From being part of it.
Acquired from being one of ‘them’.
Your vendor may have great experience and track-record of successes in running a change management program, but let someone from within, that knows the pulse of your organization be an influential, driving member of that program. At the same time exploit the fresh, detached perspective that your vendor/SI brings in.
One key pivot that I am increasingly beginning to believe Change Management success hinges on is when everyone involved is aware and truly believes that the ‘change’ can improve their daily work life, and can indeed help them work smarter, easier and better.
In the end though, IMHO, the crucial ingredient to leading a successful change management program is to address the cause, not the symptom.
Hi Jaisundar, I thought this post was very insightful, particularly when you said “So an important ingredient that goes into the creation of a Change Management program is deep insight into organization culture, people, and a sense of understanding of cause and effect – all coming from a great position of strength – that of firsthand experience. From being part of it. Acquired from being one of ‘them’.”
I also agree with your point that any vendor methodology, no matter how advanced, will replace first hand experience. I think one way to help continue BPM inertia is to provide those people with first hand knowledge with the ability to communicate that knowledge about how processes should work to vendors, consultants, IT, business analysts, executives, etc. throughout the initiative, not just at the beginning. The BPM company I work for (I’m the Dir. of Corporate Communications) is trying to address that with a process discovery and collaboration tool and I wanted to get your opinion on if you think it would help the change management challenges you discussed. If you’re interested please email me.
Thanks, Kim Malseed
Earlier this year, Forrester completed an in-depth analysis of how BPM leaders are making process improvement sustainable through effective change management work. For a sneak peak, see:
Thanks for sharing your reactions. It is great to know that you are thinking of such a tool addressing what easily is one of the most critical stages of the BPM journey in any firm.
Look forward to connecting with you.
Jeanne, this is an excellent article – thanks a lot. I also liked a very insightful post by Connie Moore titled Tackle The Most Common BPM Challenges where she lists common BPM challenges and shares the finding that “If there’s one problem that gets cited repeatedly as the single most point of failure, it’s change management.”. What I found most powerful is another challenge Connie listed – that of ‘overcoming 100 years of functional thinking’. I think it says a lot and it does allude to another aspect of change by itself. Thanks again for sharing.
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Well written JV! Surely brings out the most important perspectives for marrying change management into any kind of change.
JV — Thought provoking post! Successfully addressing change is a challenge for most organizations irrespective of the driver.
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JV, great post and an ongoing painpoint for most of the corporations I support. Unmanaged change is what makes BPM efforts lack staying power or stickiness. Unmanaged change creates cynicism that creates enormous barriers to getting exec and colleague buy-in. Change management could be called the ‘secret sauce’ in making BPM successful.
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Read this great write-up in Forbes about Marissa Mayer. http://www.forbes.com/sites/markfidelman/2012/10/15/inside-yahoo-how-marissa-mayer-can-turn-it-all-around/