Thursday, February 11, 2010

Change: How not to do it!!

They were all working as normal when the General Manager walked in. There was very little time for the usual banter before he said" "I'd like to discuss something with you." He went on to tell them of some significant reporting and operational changes that the company would like to make. He told them that he would welcome their suggestions prior to making any final decisions. Then, when he was asked when they could get back together to share their thoughts, he told them that the changes would be introduced within 2 weeks and that any suggestions would need to be made in this meeting and that the meeting would only be for the next 30 minutes. The meeting concluded with him thanking them for their suggestions and telling them that the change as originally shared with them would be operational as scheduled.


No. To my certain knowledge, it happened in a major company in this month of February 2010.

The team has been working on a major upgrade of the IT facilities. There are months of work left before the project is scheduled for completion. They are close knit and put in long hours without additional financial recognition because they are proud of their work and of their company.

Or, at least, they were.

The changes will mean that they lose their direct link to the relevant decision maker and that the new person to whom they will report has no background in IT or understanding of the programming issues involved. She will be unable to help them with technical expertise when they need suggestions or assistance and, with the company's rigid reporting lines, they will be discouraged from going directly to those who are able to provide help.

The entire team is now job hunting - and there is reason to believe that they will all leave the company within the next month or so. The cost to the company is going to be significant in money terms quite apart from the continued customer and supplier disquiet because of the current inadequate IT systems.

Over recent years I have observed two significant change programs that were badly designed and implemented. In both cases the changes were initiated after there were changes at Board level and, in both cases, the company is (or at least was) a well known and very successful one with very good EBIT and dividends. This new example appears to be doomed to the same result as the earlier one - good staff will leave; revenues will drop; EBIT will crash; dividends will become close to non existent; and everyone will be blamed except the change initiators.

These days virtually everyone accepts the reality of and the need for change. Most people do not oppose change "on principle". All that people ask is that there is authenticity and integrity from the change initiators. Don't be seen as manipulative by pretending to discuss change and seek input. Either share information and seek input at an early stage or else let people know that the decisions have been made and stop treating them like recalcitrant children.

There are plenty of resources available to help anyone and any organisation through the change process. No matter what the budget or organisational issue, someone can be found to assist you.

A little professional help at an early stage can save a fortune in later costs.

More information about Doug Long and how I can help you at

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