Case Study: you want to Change, but Users in the Firm/Department resist

What is going to change?

In our case, a new project management solution is required: let’s assume you want to introduce Change Control in your projects.

Let’s deal with the worst case: final users in the firm or departments resist change and … unfortunately some middle-managers/team leaders would like the new system to fail; final users are trying to stop the new system by multiplying requests for new functionalities which they say are absolutely necessary.

What should been done before initiating such a project?

The project manager should hold a meeting with team members, the executive and department heads.

To begin with, the executive should officially present the project manager and state that the project manager is now in charge of Change and that he /she [the executive] expects everyone to take note of this.

Then, the project manager should try to convince final users that the changes are for the best, to arouse their enthusiasm for Change Control (as part of project management) and to encourage them to do their best.

And … if you have not done what described before (or it was unsuccessful) and you are now experiencing problems? What can be done now, before it is too late?

The same as above, but the executive should officially state that he/she expects everyone to do his/her best to contribute to success by cooperating with the project manager in implementing new Change Control principles.

The project manager should stress how beneficial the new way of working is and how important Change Control is for its success.

Then, the executive should make clear that he/she is not going to accept unnecessary delay and that he/she trusts the project manager and everyone else; he/she is not going to accept uncooperative behaviours.

After that, if the situation does not change, take action: have a “chat” with the highest-ranking uncooperative person.

Why is it so Difficult to Introduce Change in a Business Environment?

They speak of change but they never say in a clear way what they want, usually because … they do not know what they want.

A change needs clear goals and clear ways to get those goals: that is seldom done. Team members think “Ok, you [the boss] want us to change but we don’t know whether you know what you want and got the impression you never paid real thought on how to do it – that is your role, not ours!

Add this: quite often the bosses want a change but … when real change is taking place they do not like it – “Oh, yes, I told you I wanted to change everything but … this is how we want it done, in this firm we have some procedures, you are going too fast [for me, not for the people], ...”

That is usual: they want change for the sake of it (or maybe they realized something was wrong) but never paid real thought to what change implied, its goals and consequences and, above all, whether they (the bosses, not the team-members) would accept it.

Strategic Plan and Firms

To begin with, a strategic plan exists in the leader’s mind.

A strategic plan should be very simple, therefore you need no tools, nor you need to communicate it to everyone in the firm, for your strategy is the core of your business; why give away your more treasured secret? Keep it for decision-makers.

Employees need to know other things, i.e., what the firm wants to do and obtain: that can be called strategy, but it is not your strategic plan.

The best practice is to operate as I have said; it will not “sit on the shelf” because it will be an important “document”, implemented directly by decision-makers.

As for small businesses, why complicating their life with tons of documents? Decision-makers should know what they want and … put it into practice.