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Ch-ch-ch-Changes

Ch-ch-ch-Changes

Ah, David Bowie there's a man who knows all about change: Ziggy (if you're thinking Telstra, get a life), the man who fell to earth, the GQ sophisticate and so on.

Speaking of change, I know there's a list which ranks the most stressful situations a person encounters in life: new job, a move, divorce, death of a loved one and so on. Each involves major change. I wonder if anyone's ever put together a workplace stress list?

If not, I'm willing to start one. Some spring immediately to mind: promotion, new boss, merger/acquisition, cut-backs, going public, an ERP implementation. But in today's business environment, I'd have to put e-enabling your company near the top - if not firmly at it -- because the online economy requires a lot people to go where no man or woman has gone before, and do it fast. (After all, buggy-whip manufacturers weren't "automobiled" at anywhere near the speed that companies are "Amazoned" today.)I speak from experience. The company I work for, IDG Communications, was largely a print publisher until a few years ago. As information deliverers, we had to embrace the Internet early and that meant numerous forays (read trial and error) and, of course, much change.

The problem with change is you don't always know where the pockets of resistance are. Moreover, in FBI-speak it's tough to "profile" the resistance leaders.

Are they old timers entrenched in their ways? From personal experience, not necessarily. I've seen young people with the most static views imaginable and 20+-year employees with incredible flexibility.

Are they people who would seemingly have turf to protect (old economy versus new economy)? Again, not necessarily. At my company I've seen people from all departments willing to realign and re-invent their business processes to the online world.

How about personality? Is it only the dynamic disposition that embraces change? I don't think so; I've seen quietly competent people effect massive change.

Is it a male-female thing? Well, I'm not touching that one. Yes, I will - and the answer is no.

But my message here isn't just about the negative aspect of change -- the resisters, the malcontents, the fractious, the subversives (thinking that I might have some specific people in mind here?). Instead, it's that change leaders - the people you want to move your business forward -- can come from anywhere. For every person opposing change, there's a person embracing it. Seek those people out. Listen to their ideas, gain from them.

Much of this month's issue deals with change, most of it in relation to the new online world. In addition, to our special section on managing change, it's a recurring theme in a number of stories. There's plenty of lessons to be learned from other people's experiences.

Then again, you might just use David Bowie as a model. He's still in business and e-enabled.

Ch-ch-ch-changes.

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