What Do IT Specialists Know about Managing Change?

There used to be a discussion going on about ICT and change management.
Some say that change management is a truism when it is linked to technology. Some says that it is key. The “truism-er” is convinced that if the technology works, the change management is unnecessary. Some say that change management is key in whatever situation.

Of course, if technology fails, then the project has failed… change management is out. But, in reality, to which extend change management is known by ICT professional?

There is one document (ref below) that analysis this issue. I read it for you!

It first mentions the changes that have been occurring in the IT business. For example: from make to buy. Secondly, users’ understanding of what technology can deliver increase, they are demanding more power in determining their own computerized objectives. Third, organizations are experiencing multiple attempts at radical transformation. [90’s research documents]

The emphasis is shifting from technical to business and IT management. IT professionals are to function more like change agent. As mentioned in this post,

Later in, some were saying that IT specialists need to become better organizational change agent and this for three reasons:

  • “A vast body of scientific literature shows that how a system is implemented is a major factor in the results organizations attain from new IT”, but yet knowing this: companies still have considerable problems to implement IT. “IT project failure can be traced to: inappropriately conceived future states, resistance by organizational member, lack of project champion, faulty implementation strategies during transition periods, etc…”
  • “Transaction cost consideration suggest that IT work that does not require organizational loyalty and or specialized organizational skill will be outsourced”… So in consequence: this theory also means that “any IT work where organizational loyalty and insider knowledge of the organization are essential (e.g., IT implementation and change management) will be less vulnerable to outsourcing”.
  • “Becoming better change agent means improving IT specialists’ credibility”. The document adds “Many people think the IT dpt has poor record of project completion, a weak reputation for IT service quality and a weak profile of leaders” […] this linked “to experiences of confidence’s ciris with the IT function”.

“In short, it is difficult to imagine any IT effort that does not fundamentally involve change at some level […]”
“We concur with Fougère (1991) and Markus and Benjamin (1996) that IT specialists are in the right position to facilitate organizational change. However, if they do not properly understand change, they cannot be effective in helping others through this often difficult and arduous process”.

Positive or Negative Change patterns:

  • Only manage the changes in an anticipated way…thus forgetting the unanticipated ones change
  • Superficial vs fundamental changes. Or said otherwise: visible and more hidden type of change (mostly human related) and not taking care enough about the second category
  • Improvisational change mechanism can be useful and a “better way of viewing the business transformation”… the ability to “view change dynamically” (anticipated + unanticipated!) will help

It is key to have the right transition team that is able to map any change and road map them in a proper way. It is as important to have a sense of “employees readiness to change index” in an organization.

If we look at the integrated framework of change suggested by Sigal in 1996:


– Individual response to change: “Change is not always resisted, apathy can be more difficult to work with”
– General Nature of change: Evolutionary or revolutionary?
– Planning change: “The importance of surfacing dissatisfaction with the present state and articulating a desired future”
– Managing the people side of change: How to communicate on the transition, what psychological issues? “Allowing people to disengage from and grieve the loss of present state”
– Managing the organization side of change: “The contribution of slogans and symbols to establishing credibility and importance; the need to reduce barriers and restraints to achieving goals rather than applying more pressure”
– Evaluating change: “Recognizing that complaints can often be a sign of progress and positive energy”; “The importance of providing feedback to people regarding progress made”

What is the conclusion of the study? Find it here:

The change within the IT world is not unique. But each modification requires an organizational perspective vision, no way to avoid this and no way to avoid the management of the change, but nerveless a technical success is needed first!
Finally, I wonder how deep is the same understanding amongst other professional sectors?

With the help of Guy Paré & Jean-François Jutras (What Do IT Specialists Know about Managing Change – Février 2004)

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