Question -Organizational change goes beyond promotions and the threat of layoffs. What ways other than those discussed in the case would you use to entice people to embrace proposed changes? Provide several suggestions and justify their rationale.
CASE STUDY- Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and Others: Understanding the Science behind Change
Kevin Sparks has been trying to get his staff to change the way it monitors and supports the data center for the past year, but he hasn’t been getting anywhere. Not that he’s getting resistance—at least not overtly. His staffers at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City agree that installing automated monitoring software, along with a centralized control room and a set of standard processes for responding to problems, would be more efficient than the way they deal with things now, which is mostly through ad hoc heroism. “Logic always prevails and everyone will agree—at the intellectual level—that we need to change things,” says Sparks, who is vice president and CIO. Then he finds himself surrounded by empty chairs at meetings while the people who should be sitting there are off fighting the latest fire. “I tell them I need them at the meetings and if we changed things they’d have the time to be there. But things always break down when we talk about taking monitoring out of their hands through automation,” Sparks says. To help his staff accept the new processes, Sparks says he’s taken layoffs off the table, even though the proposed automation and process efficiencies could reduce the need for bodies. The change is part of a larger effort to implement the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) process framework to improve overall productivity. “I don’t want fewer people; I want the ones I have to do more things,” he says, sighing with frustration. In other words, Sparks’s staff doesn’t seem to have any logical reason for resisting the changes; but before you dismiss them as a bunch of inflexible, fearful losers, know this: They are just like you. Maybe your resistance to change manifests itself in a different way or in a different setting; for example, it might be a refusal to throw away that old slide rule, to look while the nurse draws your blood, or to dance at weddings. We all refuse to change our ways. This happens for reasons that are often hard to articulate, until you begin to look at it from a scientific perspective. In the past few years, improvements in brain analysis technology have allowed researchers to track the energy of a thought coursing through the brain in much the same way that they can track blood flowing through the circulatory system. These advances are bringing a much-needed hard foundation of science to a leadership challenge that to CIOs has long seemed hopelessly soft and poorly defined: change management. Pictures of the brain show that our responses to change are predictable and universal. From a neurological perspective, we all respond to change in the same way: We try to avoid it. Yet understanding the brain’s chemistry and mechanics has led to insights that can help CIOs ameliorate the pain of change and improve people’s abilities to adapt to new ways of doing things. Change hurts. Not the boo-hoo, woe-is-me kind of hurt that executives tend to dismiss as an affliction of the weak and sentimental, but actual physical and psychological discomfort. The brain pictures actually prove it. Change lights up an area of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, which is like RAM memory in a PC. The prefrontal cortex is fast and agile, able to hold multiple threads of logic at once to enable quick calculations. Like RAM, the prefrontal cortex’s capacity is finite; it can deal comfortably with only a handful of concepts before bumping up against limits. That bump generates a palpable sense of discomfort, producing fatigue and even anger. Resistance to change is not inevitable. The prefrontal cortex has its limitations, but it is also capable of insight and self-control. The ability to be aware of our habitual impulses and do something about them is what makes us human. “The prefrontal cortex is extremely influential in our behavior, but it does not have to be completely determinative,” says Jeffrey M. Schwartz, research psychiatrist at the School of Medicine at the University of California at Los Angeles. “We can make decisions about how much we want to be influenced by our animal biology.” Unfortunately, traditional change management tactics are based more in animal training than in human psychology. Leaders promise bonuses and promotions to those who go along with the change (the carrot), and they punish those who don’t with less important work and the potential loss of their jobs (the stick). “The carrot-and-stick approach works at the system wide level—offering cash bonuses to the sales department to increase the number of customers in Latin America will get you more customers there, for example— but at a personal level it doesn’t work,” says David Rock, founder and CEO of Results Coaching Systems, a consulting firm. “Our personal motivations are too complex, and you can only offer so many raises.” Patience is critical, says Rock. “You have to paint a broad picture of change and resist the urge to fill in all the gaps for people,” he says. “They have to fill them in on their own. If you get too detailed. it prevents people from making the connections on their own.” Leaving holes in any plan is especially hard for CIOs, who tend to be ambitious and process-oriented, which means they have thought out all the details involved in a strategy or systems change and believe they know all the steps required to get there. In general, they’re bursting with the need to tell everyone exactly how to do it. “When I put out change proposals, it’s obvious to me why we should be changing, so when people resist I tend to get more aggressive in trying to convince them,” says Matt Miszewski, CIO of the state of Wisconsin. “But we lose people in that situation. The more we try to explain things, the more dug in they get.” To try to focus people’s attention on personal insight and change their behavior, Rock uses the same technique that psychoanalysts have used since the profession began: He asks questions. “When you ask someone questions, you are getting them to focus on an idea,” he says. “When you pay more attention to something, you make more connections in the brain.” Rock also says that asking questions gets people to voice their ideas. “The best way to get people to change is to lay out the objective in basic terms and then ask them how they would go about getting there,” Rock says. One of the biggest mistakes that leaders, like CIOs, make in trying to win over the skeptical middle is assuming that everyone is motivated by ambition, as many CIOs are. Many people, especially IT professionals, are motivated as much or more by the work they do (for example, the craft of software development) as they are by the opportunity to move up in the hierarchy. “There are a lot of people who don’t want to be king or queen,” says Michael Wakefield, senior enterprise associate at the Center for Creative Leadership, a consulting firm. “That’s difficult for people to reveal because they fear their bosses will start to question their courage and commitment.” If these people don’t see an opportunity to maintain their allegiance to the work they love as part of a change, they won’t see the benefit of going along. They will remain skeptical or, worse, move into the camp of active resisters. One of the best ways to bring the skeptics around is through learning. At the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board, a change readiness survey of employees at the beginning of an effort to shift compensation cases from paper folders to electronic files found that employees’ number-one demand was for training. “They wanted reassurance that we weren’t going to ask them to do something new without giving them the support they needed to do it,” says Nancy Mulholland, who is deputy executive director and CIO of the Workers’ Compensation Board. Change management is time-consuming and hard to quantify for process-oriented CIOs. Yet avoiding the challenge leads to failure. “Anybody can stick $2,000 in someone’s face to get them to finish a job, but it’s the people who can inspire others to follow them that are the most successful in the long run,” says Richard Toole, who is CIO for Pharm Erica, a pharmacy services company. “The soft stuff is important,” but inspiring others to change isn’t a matter of charisma or charm, say the experts. Sparks’s latest tactic for engaging his staff’s prefrontal cortexes was to bring in an outside consultant to discuss the IT Infrastructure Library program and to field concerns. “We had an outstanding instructor, and she was able to address many of the questions people had,” recalls Sparks. “I could begin to see the lights come on in some of the skeptics. After a long meeting, one of my people stood up and said, ‘You know, we should have started working on this [automated monitoring] six months ago.’ ”
Incremental changes:- The larger projects can be divided into smaller and easily manageable sub-projects or components and then the team can operate or work on each one by one. It is a common fact that frequent smaller changes are more effective and easily manageable in comparison to major changes which can pose a lot of threat and risks.
Expect Change: - The company can focus on creating a system maintenance cycle in which the different types of changes can be executed or implemented by following a predetermined schedule. The involvement of various stakeholders can be quite useful in the process phases such as problem identification, analysis, and prioritization. Such kind of initiatives not only makes the employees be ready for any future changes and in fact it will also create a feeling among them that they are in better position to control and regulate the changes.
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