Support versus Change, Evolution versus Revolution

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Jacob Morgan wrote a piece about adoption a while back, and he had a pretty interesting concept around supporting business process as opposed to change management.  This is really quite new to me, as we’ve always talked about change management and behavioral change as opposed to a softer concept of “support.”

You need to speak in terms of “supporting” rather than “changing”.  “Change” implies that people are doing things wrong.  “Support” however, implies that you recognize value of their efforts and you want to help further those efforts.  You can’t walk into a company and say “you guys are idiots, everything you’re doing is wrong,” because that’s not going to accomplish anything.  ((Morgan, Jacob, December 21, 2009.  “Strategic Principles for Enterprise 2.0 Implementation.”))

There are a couple problems with this.  Often, when you’re implementing a new system rather than upgrading, you really are looking for opportunities to change the current business process.  While we often implement on top of old process because we didn’t do the proper amount of future state visioning prior to kicking off the implementation, the purpose of the implementation is usually to fix the old system or process.  Seldom is it that we are spending millions on the implementation of a new product to simply support, enhance and bolster the existing.

I’m not sure you can’t walk into a company and say “you guys are idiots.”  We’ll, that’s not how I do it, and rarely do I think anyone is an idiot.  But it’s pretty common that I know their process has room for fundamental change and in most cases, they are hiring me because they know it too.  Same goes for implementing software, they usually know they need the help.

I’ll admit that the same does not go for the end user.  The end user does not see business process at the same level that corporate sponsors of these projects do, and often do think that all is ok.  But they also don’t necessarily see the opportunities that lie in leading practices around the HR industry either.  This is where adoption really occurs, is the end user and helping them get to a point of understanding that not only is this better for the organization, but also where the enhancements that will help them grow also.

I don’t think we are usually “supporting” or “evolving” their current business state.  I think usually we are trying to change things up.

2 thoughts on “Support versus Change, Evolution versus Revolution

  1. Very interesting perspective.

    As I talk to customers about automating performance management, I see many companies who want to keep too much of the status quo and not think about the behaviors they need to change to really see value from this process. Take something as simple as how they write their goals. The other day, I was speaking with a manager who was writing goals for his employees. His goals listed the tactics to accomplish the goal. I challenged him to think about whether that was really what he wanted – especially given that one of the company’s core competencies is innovation. If you spell out for an employee the specific deliverables they need to create to achieve a goal, that is exactly what you will get. How does that that foster innovation? How does that add value to the organization? What opportunity for major change and improvement was missed?

    We need to start thinking that change management isn’t a one-time happening ,and it isn’t a bad word. It is the process of making wholesale improvements to a process that impact the results, either better, faster, cheaper, etc. It will cause churn and discomfort but we need to help organizations work through the discomfort in order to see the improvement at the other end.

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