1. Which types of barriers (cultural, structural, business case) are the biggest threat to IT health project? Why did you select these? Identify and assess strategies to overcome these barriers.
I think the biggest barriers to an IT health project are: perceived inequity, depersonalization, deskilling, and lack of generally accepted standards. I’ve chosen these three barriers because I’ve personally experienced them in organizations that made IT changes. In more cases than not the majority of users of implemented or planned system changes often feel that the changes are not being made for their benefit, but for the benefit other stakeholders – most often stakeholders in upper management. Many users often feel threatened by notions of how the new system could possibly affect their standing in the organization, particularly if the implementation would mean they had to learn new skills or unlearn old skills. Last but not least is that in some organizations the lack of generally accepted across the board standards tend to confuse and complicate established interactions between differing parts of the organization – for example, the system change may not affect users in sales who are still using the old system and still have the same expectations of their interactions with a department in which the new system has been implemented. Organizations looking to overcome barriers to IT change should make sure that senior executive leadership is fully on-board and invested in the proposed change; this invested commitment needs to be frequently communicated to build necessary consensus across the organization for the support of the project. Leadership must also make sure that allocated resources are sufficient and are adequately protected for the duration of the project until completion; but last and not least, leadership must play a big role in ensuring that staff who will actually use the system are sufficiently represented in the process and given a serious hearing throughout the process.
2. Why are some individuals resistant to change? How can you motivate them to change?
Individuals can be resistant to change because they feel that change will threaten their job security or disrupt their accustomed job routines, or they may be reluctant to learn new skills; they may even be resistant to change because of change fatigue. The recent, and seemingly always ongoing, spate of changes in almost every industry, has left many employees with feelings sometimes bordering on hostility to ‘more’ change. This can be especially evident if those employees have witnessed multiple system changes which turned into system failures. Many of these professionals view themselves as working for more than just pay, and generally have a deep connection to the work they do – as a result they may be apt to view ‘change’ as another intrusion they could ill-afford. Any attempts at motivating change among these individuals has to take these factors into consideration. I think engaging these individuals early on in the planning and discussion stages of the planned change may be a good way to hear them out and offer them direct insight into why the organization deems the change necessary, how the change will be implemented and what some of the perceived benefits would be to them, their department(s) and co-workers. It is also critical to communicate that the change is not just change for change’s sake; it may even be useful to attempt to engage these individuals as change ambassadors – giving them the responsibility of bringing the concerns of the users to the change project team, and tasking them with taking the news of the change and how it is expected to positively enhance current work efforts.
3. Give an example of two professional cultures within a business system that may have competing interests in a CMS platform change project. Describe a strategy to manage the two groups’ disparate interests.
Management and non-management employees, due to the often inter-relatedness of their roles in most organizations, are not always thought of as coming from different professional cultures. I posit however, that since a major component of a management staff’s role is to enforce and implement company policies – often times amidst the protestations of non-management employees who are expected to carry out said policies – that these two groups, from this perspective, are different professional cultures within organizations as a consequence of their separate user roles on current and future platforms. have competing interests in an electronic health record project. A successful strategy to manage the disparate interests of these groups would, I believe, depend to a great extent on the amount of credibility currency that management has with non-management employees. If managers think their main task is to control and direct employees who may be unmotivated, or who may be perceived as not liking work, then they are not likely to have any credibility currency with this group – and attempts to generate synergy between them for the project’s sake would encounter real roadblocks. If on the other hand non-management employees believe that management has created a nurturing culture that is inspirational; that management is competent, and that they have a healthy relationship with management; then a strategy to manage the disparate interests of the two groups can be readily developed. Such a strategy would have to include training and knowledge for both groups; it would need to include well thought out and presented information sessions; internal communications via fliers if available, and posters, touting the project and the benefits it would provide for all. Initial meetings should be held with both groups separately to convey the urgency and importance of the project to the business, and then if needed, a joint meeting to help everyone to get on the same page.
4. Identify and describe the most important factors to consider when deciding to adopt a quality improvement or governance model (CMMI, ITIL, Six Sigma, or Lean)?
Which quality improvement or governance model is chosen depends on what is needed to be accomplished. Six Sigma and Lean are the two measures which are specifically designed to provide quality improvement, while CMMI and ITIL are specifically geared towards software development organizations and IT service management practices respectively. If the intent of an organization, for example, is to find ways to quickly eliminate waste in a process in order to improve quality – then the Lean model may be the best way to go. This model concentrates on eliminating non-value added waste with a focus on reducing process cycle times, improving on-time delivery performance and reducing costs. If the focus of an organization is to improve quality from a customer or user point of view – then Six Sigma, a statistical process improvement method, is better suited for the task. This method defines service levels and measures deviations from those levels. It is a data driven approach to solving business problems by finding root causes.
Inevitably, how successfully change is managed in an organization will depend heavily on the existing trust quotients that exist within the groups whose roles are to plan, design, test, and implement the system – and the group(s) whose roles will be to actually use the system.
Sherwin L. Kendall