Managing to Project Change

We had three days of class last week…three of the final six.  Thursday was the debrief from the trip for Global Issues (I really am still planning to put some more out in posts and pictures related to the trip…eventually) with presentations on our trip from each classmate.  That took all day.

Friday we entered into Change Management, which was taught by another favorite of the profs, Dr. Jennifer Robin (assisted by Ross Fink who taught project management on Saturday, assisted by Jennifer).  Implementing change involves people, and people are messy and complicated.  That’s the summary statement which is not a surprise to anyone who’s managed change before.  Particularly helpful was a game we played that illustrated the stages of change…awareness, understanding, interest, and action (or adoption).  Some people move through those stages of change quickly, and others take a long time.  And assessing where someone is on that line correctly will help in managing that change without breaking people unnecessarily.  That last word, unnecessarily, is important because some changes are important or crucial and have to be implemented before everyone is ready.  Best to avoid that if possible.

We also looked at the congruence model of change.  For a strategy of an organization to become actually performed and implemented it has to be considered in how it affects four areas:  Work, People, Culture, and Structure.  Often only one of them is considered and then the change is considered done.

Consider creating a new position in an organization.  If you add it to the organizational chart that handles the structure area.  A defined job description and the person in the role is all that takes for structure.  But what about people?  There are others who will interact with that new role.  How will that affect them?  Have they been spoken with about this, and are they going to find their sense of identity threatened because the “new guy” is taking some of their work?  And how will this new position affect the culture of the organization?  Is that disruption positive or negative?

One big takeaway from Friday was this:  if the change wasn’t finished in all four areas…it may need to be revisited and the damage control done.  Even if the change is old.  The undone part doesn’t just go away, it brings resentment and builds distrust and will breed resistance to future change as well.

Saturday we did project management which will be a big part of our capstone documents.  It was really helpful for me, though not as engaging as the people related part of change management from Friday.  There were several takeaways for me, though, and I have a better idea about how I’m going to organize the timeline for the capstone project.  We also watched a video about Boston’s Big Dig which depending on your perspective is one of the biggest project management failures or successes in history.  (I may write another post on that by itself)

33 days.  It’s starting to raise the stress level for me as the number drops. This is helpful, by the way, because I’m very stress motivated on projects…starting early isn’t my thing.  Even though I’d love to be an early starter, I haven’t been able to pull it off any other time in the program.  This one’s big enough that I’m already starting “late” though I do have quite a bit of the research done.  33 days, one weekend of class (week before Thanksgiving) and the capstone morning on December 6th.  It’s going to fly by and I have a lot to get done.

And as a parting gift, here’s a great TED talk on simplifying things at work.  The guy has a strong accent so you may need to watch it twice:

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