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Change Leadership

They say people are resistant to change. I disagree. People are resistant to uncertainty. Once people are certain that a change is to their benefit, they will change so fast it will make your head spin. It would be a mistake however to underestimate the challenges of changing an organization from one where integration is a collaboration between two project silos to one where integration is a sustainable strategy with a common infrastructure based on strict standards and shared by everyone.

This is part one of a two-part article that discusses what YOU can do to be a change agent in your organization. The articles have been drawn from the Integration Competency Center (ICC) book which is available as an eBook on Amazon and iTunes.

The relatively easy issues to overcome relate to rolling out new processes and having them be understood and accepted, new technology stability and performance issues, dealing with off-shore and outsourcing demands and finding competent staff. As tough as some of these issues might be, the solutions to them are relatively straight forward. The really difficult change management challenges which you may run up against include:

  • The “not invented here” syndrome and other similar “religious” views;
  • Project funding by fine-grained business units that don’t have the money for and aren’t motivated to solve the “big picture;”
  • Tactical short-term investment emphasis that doesn’t appear to leave any room for strategic infrastructure investments;
  • Concessions and trade-offs needed by functional teams in order to optimize the enterprise;
  • Autonomous operating groups in distributed geography that simply will not listen to or accept guidance from a central group; and
  • Fear of change and vested interests in the status quo that come across as having no compelling reason to change.

The term “challenges” may be too polite when referring to the above list; these seem a lot more like immovable barriers. As insurmountable as these hurdles may appear to be, they are not unique to an ICC implementation and have been conquered in the past. While there is no simple “silver bullet” solution, there are nine key concepts which have been proven over and over to be effective.

  1. Think strategically – Act tactically
  2. Credibility through delivery
  3. Grow incrementally, organically
  4. Sidestep resource issues
  5. Choose your battles
  6. Take out the garbage
  7. Leverage knowledge
  8. Refocus innovation
  9. Take it outside

All of them require a common ingredient; leadership.  In today’s posting, I’ll expand on the first two.

Think strategically – Act tactically

The idea is to have a clear vision of the future, but to get there one step at a time. If you are fortunate enough to have an environment where you have spare resources and lots of executive support to invest in the strategy, that’s great. But it’s also very unusual. More commonly you will need to set your vision three-five years in the future and be patient enough to build out the integration services and shared infrastructure in small increments one project at a time.

It is good to keep in mind the  Second Law of Integration which states, “There is no end-state.” In other words, in an integrated environment, something is always changing. For example, if you miss a window of opportunity to establish your new SOA standards on the latest ERP project to be approved, don’t worry. Another project will come along. If you are in it for the long run, individual projects, even big ones, are just blips on the radar screen.

Credibility through delivery

In order to be perceived as a leader by others in the enterprise, you need their trust and respect. Clearly this means being open, honest and trustworthy. But there is another dimension of trust; do people trust that you will actually get the job done? This is probably the most important aspect of trust when you are trying to change a culture from “I want to do it my way” to “I will give up control to you because I believe you will do a good job and maybe even better than I could.”

In the final analysis this comes down to your ability to execute, to organize your work, set appropriate priorities, assign the appropriate resources to the task and maintain good communications with your customers. Above all, keep your promises.

Stay tuned for my next blog article on the remainder of the nine integration change management challenges.

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