Great session on Change Management at Gartner BPM Summit #BPM11

  • May 3, 2011
  • Lance

Gartner’s BPM Summit this year in Baltimore was a little different than previous years for a few reasons. First off, almost 850 attendees were present according to Gartner’s stats which is a  non-trivial improvement over last year! Secondly, for the first time I can remember we actually ran into a larger business audience than before. Normally these conferences are highly IT represented but this year marked a shift- quite a few business professionals were also in attendance.  This is obviously a very good thing. Lastly, there was great content all around but I caught a session focused on Change Management that really hit the nail on the head and certainly left an impression with me. We have discussed how critical change management is when it comes to BPM and yet it’s something most companies have little competency in doing on their own. Now when I say Change Management this is not your IT notion of change management and it also isn’t this idea either!

 Change Management is not just:

  • Communication
  • Training
  • Group therapy sessions
  • Cheerleading
  • Etc.

The talk was presented by Phil Eastman II of ProSci and you could clearly see that this subject is a passion for him. One of the key moments came when Phil cited research performed over several years that stated in essence, “Keeping the human side of process change in the forefront buys on average a six times realization in quality of solution”.  That is a big number and as we want to de-risk these initiatives to the greatest extent possible, why would we not look at the change management with a lot more diligence? He also added, “Change management is not about training”. Sure, it is a component but it is not what is most highly correlated with success – change management is about getting results! Before I get to that, here are some points Phil cited on why change management is not done more:

  1. It’s hard – it requires planning, discipline and persistence to be effective
  2. Poor measurement – it’s difficult to quantify benefit other than the stat above therefore, funding for it becomes a bit more of a challenge
  3. It’s expensive – change management requires real resources, time, and money to do correctly

However, without appropriate focus in Phil’s words you allow ‘Chance’ to be in the driver’s seat over ‘Change’. This definitely hit home for me as a practitioner because over many years I have seen this in action as well as other key success factors being under-capitalized on programs deemed “mission critical” by organizations.  So what is Change Management about? It’s really about taking the human aspect and getting extremely serious about ensuring the crew of your ship you just built is actually recruited. In Phil’s words, “There is no such thing as organizational change; only individual change summated is organizational change. The unit of change is without a doubt the individual”. Absolutely true! Phil then broke the idea of Change Management into two perspectives which were ‘Individual Perspective’ and ‘Organization Perspective’. Most of the focus went into the ‘Individual Perspective’ which is appropriate considering he just stated that the individual is the ultimate unit of change. The idea is to understand what it is going to take to make any given individual adopt the change successfully based on the dynamics of the new solution presented. ProSci has a model called “ADKAR” (acronym, of course) which in turn has five major building blocks of successful change:

  • Awareness – Are individuals aware of the change and do they understand why it’s occurring
  • Desire – (This is the hardest according to Phil), Do the individuals actually want change
  • Knowledge – Are the individuals understanding of what is being ultimately asked of them and do they know what is in it for them
  • Ability – (There is a major gap between knowledge and ability), can the individual successfully participate in the new world
  • Reinforcement- What is being done to reinforce the behavior of individuals post change, because people are readily capable of regressing)

The ultimate idea is to understand the mechanisms that perhaps got one individual over the change hump and be able to replicate that over and over again. Phil stated, “Processing a billion transactions a month is not hard. Processing one transaction a billion times is”. One other very insightful concept to keep in mind is that “organizations are not mechanical systems, they are living systems. You cannot change a living system, you can only disturb it”. Great session all around and it certainly kept the attendees attention. Kudos to Gartner for locking this one up!

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  • Jeff Sarsoun

    I’ve experienced several projects where the technology of BPM was the easy part and Change Management issues were the detractors.
    As Caterpillar CIO John Heller said at this years Impact event “Culture eats strategy for lunch”.
    BPM is about more than throwing more layers of bits and bytes at a problem but rather getting business users comfortable with doing their jobs in a different way, which isn’t always easy if they don’t agree that their current processes are inefficient to begin with.

    • It is often said but rarely heard 🙂

  • Related article here from Adam Deane-

    Regarding changing culture- closely related to change management…

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