Sunday, August 30, 2009

Organizational Changes - why they are painful ?

Why changes don't happen easily in organizations, why are they painful?

Most common reasons, employees don't like it. As popular saying goes "Change is painful".

My understanding is different. Human being always like change, it makes them feel they are alive and that's why they change their furniture's and personal vehicles and on top of it they pay for it and they enjoy doing so.

So why does it not work in organizations?

First reason I think is - it is because the process “change” starts from Management and flows down to people/employees, so it's not their idea or thought that is being implemented. It's an idea of some manager sitting somewhere in an isolated area. Though the change might be strategically the best one - but people at each desk think differently about the management.

Second reason as per my knowledge is the "process" of change is painful. This can be best explained with typical case. Suppose in an organization a developer is writing his Java programs in a notepad and saving it into a source control application which is totally external (not integrated). He has been doing this from last couple of years, let’s say 7 years and it involves very simple steps. Most of the developers know how to use it and also troubleshoot. Apart from this there are good amount website and forums that talk about this current method of Java development setup. Now organization decided to bring in some Integrated Development Environment (IDE) to improve the productivity of the developers. And they decided to bring in some XYZ IDE. Management decided on this "XYZ IDE" as the comity involved in the decision making decided so. Now developers are asked to use this development environment.

All the assumptions or the predictability that developer had about the old process, over course of time are now invalid. He doesn’t know whom to approach, what to look for. Of course this is common thing with every thing that changes in life. What if that developer is given some training? - Even that will not work any magic. I would say people should be given with learning resources that can help them right when they want it. If this kind of help is not available I am sure the change is going to bring just frustration, no productivity, in fact negative productivity. Individual's productivity loss will further spread into his other job areas.

Here what I think should be done:

Involve as many people as possible while implementing change, make it their own. Involve them in brain storming, testing and evaluation processes. So that knowledge start building in the community before the change is brought.

Secondly I would suggest forming a mentor groups before bringing in change. The individuals affected by these changes should be aware of resources that can help them, when they need it. The resources could be the documentation, on-demand video or a co-worker sitting next to him

If someone commits mistakes, he should not be discouraged, by making it painful to fix it or worst case by a office wide memo publicizing his name. Such events will discourage individuals from exploring the "NEW" tools or techniques. Most of the inventions are brought to the world via accidents (while exploring), not by the dedicated R&D efforts, so exploration is good.

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About Me

By profession I am a Database Administrator (DBA) with total 13 yrs. of experience in the field of Information Technology, out of that 9 yrs as SQL DBA and last 3 years in IBM System i/iSeries and DB2 LUW 9. I have handled Developer, plus production support roles, and I like both the roles. I love and live information technology hence the name "Techonologyyogi" Apart from that I am a small, retail investor, with small investments in India and United States in the form of Equity holdings via common stocks. Don't ask me if I have made money, I have been loosing money in stocks.