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Gently Does It

Gently Does It

If there's one lesson to be learned from Jeff Kennett's shock defeat in the Victorian State election it's that if you try to ram through change, someone, sometime, is going to kick you in the teeth.

Many CIOs have discovered the hard way the hurt that can be engendered by trying to force change on unwilling recipients. Just look at the widespread dissatisfaction and mistrust that early business change projects targeted at slashing costs and head counts left in their wake. What those pioneering mistakes taught above all is that the only successful change program is one that involves all participants early, identifies champions of change throughout the organisation, inspires people to embrace rather than fight the changes involved, and fosters commitment to a common purpose.

But if some CIOs have got better at involving stakeholders early and often, and finding ways to entice and inspire people to accept change rather than trying to drag them kicking and screaming on board, organisational change management still remains a poorly understood management discipline. By most accounts, managing change remains something most CIOs need to work on. To help you to change, CIO went looking for some change leaders for tips, derived from their own endeavours to achieve change.

Creating and Disseminating the Concept

Change starts with a vision, with widespread communication of that vision, and with a sincere desire to listen to people's responses to that vision.

Lend Lease-MLC

Rosemary Kirkby, Lend Lease Corporation's general manager, people, says it's the processes you use to support change that make the difference, and that the CIO's role should be less about managing change than facilitating it. When Lend Lease set out to strip 40 per cent out of its cost structure a few years ago, it only succeeded, Kirkby says, because it built people into the process.

"I have a view that somehow you've got to get that common purpose established; you've got to excite people. And they're not excited about being told we need 40 per cent out of our cost structure. It's something else; it's about building a better company; it's about competing; it's about really making a contribution. So you've got to get some sense of common purpose and some vision of how the world could change that will excite people," she says.

Planning for MLC's massive workplace redesign - undertaken in partnership with Lend Lease Projects - began with a paper called Imagine, written at Kirkby's kitchen table. Kirkby circulated the document defining her vision of the relationship between a modern corporate and its constituents as widely as possible, calling for input. "We started to get people talking about it, and before we let anyone near the building we facilitated lots of focus groups, saying: 'how do you want to live and work; what's important to you? Where is the rub in your personal and professional lives; and if you could design your dream workplace, what would it look like'?"

It's been said a thousand times before, but having senior management support was crucial, she says, and timing was everything. Indeed, unless senior management buys in to Lend Lease initiatives, the initiatives are inevitably dropped. "We don't push them, because the time is not right. So there's always a right time, if you like, to have these things happen," she says.

When Lend Lease briefed the architects the company told them: "We want 1200 people here to be able to say: 'I designed my own workplace'." Kirkby says the architect loved every minute of it.

Axa Australia

Ian Campbell, CIO at AXA, believes there are three critical ingredients to the change process:n a view as to where you want to be down the track ("that vision word that some people get sick of") n plan, plan, planning, and n communicating until people can hear no more.

Axa's vision, Campbell says, is that "IS is there to support the business, so the IS vision is about where we want to be to support the business imperatives. [The change project] has been driven from the IS executive to a large degree, with leadership from myself, but the executive is informed and are enormously supportive."

Reckitt & Coleman

Reckitt & Coleman's Asian consolidation started with a two-day workshop in Singapore, designed to help key players get to know each other and to start to build interpersonal relationships between participants. "We just basically spent two days talking about issues, trying to get to know each other, those sorts of things," IS director Frank Coogan says. "So it was really an informal process; it wasn't actually what you call out-and-out displays of leadership, or anything else. It was really just pulling people around the table and starting to talk about the newly-formed team."

While this didn't immediately solve all the issues, Coogan says it did provide a valuable starting point. For the last year all the players have continued to work on differences of opinion and approach. Coogan says it has been necessary to work hard to enforce continuity and the standardisation of processes without quashing individual initiatives and individual independence.

Publicising the Options, Inviting Dissent, Identifying Change ChampionsOnce the vision has been set it must be widely communicated, a consensus building process should begin, and change champions should be found and brought on board.

Axa Australia

The company kept key change documents in a Lotus Notes database to keep people informed, and used electronic Q&A sessions to respond to queries. Campbell launched the change program with "state of the nation" addresses in Sydney and Melbourne, and he has updated those via five presentations to about 100 people. Other state-of-the-nation addresses are planned, and Campbell's direct reports also regularly present to sub-groups while level-two managers present to work teams.

All IT staff recently attended a three-hour introduction to the changes the organisation was putting in place over the next couple of months. Since March will see a further release of changes in terms of the processes, tools and reporting systems to be used, IS staff till then go through a further three-hour workshop to set the change in context. Specific training relevant to their workgroup will follow.

Lend Lease-MLC

"As someone who has to facilitate change, you've really got to stoke the fire for quite a long time sometimes, and get the debate happening and get the consensus built," Kirkby says. "We're a very consensus-driven organisation. You've got to get consensus from the bulk of the people that something should change here."

Lend Lease is a highly empowered workforce that employs many workers from Generation X, and Generation X demands a say. Kirkby says there are change champions - people with a passion for getting things changed, at all levels of an organisation. Key influencers are to be found everywhere. They're not necessarily the most senior people, but they're the ones you need to have on side. "You've got to find the people with a passion for getting something changed, and really help them to build their own supporters in, too."

Reckitt & Coleman

It can be extremely difficult to manage a team whose members are located in different parts of the world, Reckitt & Coleman's Coogan says. "Face-to-face helps an awful lot. When you don't have face-to-face it takes an awful lot of the process away - I guess it makes it slower to actually get things done. What we can't do is have things slow up too much. So we do need to constantly talk to each other by phone and have videoconferences, where we can have physical face-to-face meetings, even though it is a bit cost-prohibitive to do that." Coogan says.

Planning the Change,

Considering Past and Future Champions

Planning for the change process starts with consideration both of where the organisation is today and where it wants to go in future. It also means drawing on intellectual capital wherever it can be found.

Pasminco

Before implementing its change process Pasminco spent an entire year working out where the organisation currently was and where it ought to be tomorrow. "We call it the As Is phase and the Should Be phase," says executive general manager finance and services Bronwyn Constance. "That involved all of the sites. Each site had representatives here in Melbourne working on that, and out of that we were able to do the design.

"We clearly needed to have the involvement of all our sites at that stage, otherwise it would never have worked. And they all came together and worked as a project team for the design phase."

Lend Lease-MLC

Lend Lease's change champions started by identifying the business drivers and customer needs on one hand, and the company's own staff needs on the other. The company pulled teams of focused groups of employees together to consider everything from toilets to colour schemes. It is that process that has seen the creation of the numerous innovative features of the refurbished building, including the "civic space" or vertical street running through the building, the art gallery, commercial cafe, Internet café and the amazing Zen Den, a Japanese-inspired landscape complete with river pebbles.

Kirkby says the idea is to draw on as much employee imagination and wisdom as possible. "It's about getting all the ideas unleashed, whether it's about getting your cost structures down, whether you're delivering a new IT project or whether you're delivering the building. You've got to unleash all the intellectual capital you have, somehow," she says.

Axa

At Axa, Campbell's planning started with a joint exercise with Andersen Consulting to draw up a series of operating models describing the IS shop in a range of dimensions going into the future.

"We've got an operating model for the end of the first six months, end of the first year, end of the second year and then a sort of end game; although there is never an end game, but the end game like three years out. It describes the IS organisation in terms of its structure, the tools that it's using, its location physically, its leadership, how we're executing strategy, organisational structure overview, processes we're using, competencies of staff, performance management systems, a view on where our application suite will be, facilities and layout and culture."

Campbell says the document states in plain English where the organisation is today, and where it wants to go along the way. That means people can clearly see the changes and design the change program around that. Planning is quite thorough, and includes both a detailed business plan for the next 12 months, and some broad targets to hit in year two and year three.

"In terms of the first six months of the business plan the detail in terms of the change program and in terms of the ongoing operation is there. We're launching the first wave of changes now; we'll make sure they're bedded down in the first quarter next year. Then with the second change come the end of March-April next year, we're actually doing the planning for the second change now, while we're launching the first phase."

Implementing the Change and Training Change AdoptersHelping people to make the transition to change can be the most crucial step of all. It is at this stage that you have to ensure people don't feel they've been left behind, to avoid them reacting out of confusion and resentment.

Pasminco

Pasminco's dedicated full-time implementation team involved people who came to Melbourne from every Pasminco site to engage in examining work transition and change management issues.

"They went out to the sites, they reviewed what people were doing and what the change would be in the way they did their duties and tasks. They looked at how these roles would change, and what they would need to do. They discussed them with the people, and then set up training programs and training courses to make sure the needs were catered for and everybody was trained in what would affect them," Constance says. "The training was not at a generic level, it was actually at a specific level. And we trained trainers, and the trainers came from the sites, so the people from sites were actually training their own people, and talking their language. That was a pretty important part of the whole thing."

Nothing is ever perfect, but Pasminco completed rollout across all sites, including international sites, in 18 months and is pleased with the result, Constance says. "We now have an opportunity to look at ways of perhaps enhancing the system and that would be in the ways of the front ends like the reporting, and we're looking at that now to develop better reporting for people."

Axa

Axa is running a just-in-time change program that involves knowing where the organisation wants to go and the main things it wants to achieve, then delivering the resources to support the change just in advance of implementing the change. The company is also introducing a comprehensive kit of support tools and training to support its change program. Campbell says the program has also required some organisational restructuring around the edges. The company is looking to implement changes in a series of six monthly blocks, each building on the last.

"For example, in project delivery it means rolling out a consistent solutions-delivery life cycle for all projects, bedding that down and training all the development staff in that. [Then it's a matter of] ensuring that the projects comply with that methodology, and then over time building on components of the methodology to make them get into a level of detail, advancing the methodology further than where it is on its initial launch," says Campbell.

"Testing is part of any application development; therefore, you've got to have a test plan, but down the track launch to people involved in designing test plans - and how to run them - education and training to show them how to do it even better."

Lend Lease-MLC

Project management is Lend Lease's bread and butter, so the company naturally set some tough performance targets for the project and ensured it had rigorous processes in place to support the implementation. Project management is vital to the success of any change project, Kirkby says. "So you know what you've set out to get; you've got a project control group that meets regularly, that reviews with absolute rigour the progress; and you've got to meet time and budget on these things.

"Of course, the key to it all is communication, and on campus we employ an intranet Web site that is used interactively by employees to follow the construction on the floors. That Web site has been important to support the behavioural change. We've tried to impose few rules for living in this new environment: if people take ownership of the change it's easier to make it stick."

THE PROJECTS

Reckitt & Coleman: Consolidation of the Australian and New Zealand business with the East Asian business to form Reckitt & Coleman Asia Pacific. Frank Coogan says the project tested his ability to lead people of different nationalities, different cultures and with different approaches to doing things.

MLC Limited: Overseeing, in partnership with Lend Lease Projects, a $60 million workplace refurbishment creating a ground-breaking work environment designed to attract, hold and maximise the creativity of the knowledge worker of the future. Employee buy-in and ownership of the change was considered crucial to the project's success, as was building flexibility, including maximum IT flexibility, into the design.

Pasminco: A three-year rationalisation of the global Australian resource company's infrastructure across seven sites in Australia, one in The Netherlands, one in Hong Kong and one in Malaysia, while achieving Y2K compliance. Under the One Pasminco project the company moved to SAP in the interests of achieving significant business benefits.

Axa Australia: A McKinsey-inspired IT transformation designed to reduce non-discretionary costs, improve project delivery, increase service delivery, increase the transparency of IS to the rest of the business and enhance staff skills.

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