Why fortune always favours' the well prepared...
We have all heard the British SAS motto "Who Dares Wins". There was even a movie titled with the SAS motto, which was about wartime heroics that somehow got executed with gusto and charisma. The truth is somewhat different in the real world with the British SAS trooper Andy McNabb confirming that the SAS's real motto is 'Check and Test'. After all, managing adversity for special operations embraces nearly all of the change management best practice recommendations out there and I would not be surprised if they gave rise to many of them.
In business and technology, our relatively mundane existence can be just as tricky to navigate if we are not careful. This fact made me very cautious about giving up my full-time (permanent) job and investing a considerable amount of money, time and effort to become a contractor and business owner. The steps involved will seem alien to many seasoned professionals in established and consistent working environments. As strange as change may seem, everything is up for grabs as one reality is sunsetted for another. As I enter the final set-up stages of Maolte Technical Solutions Limited and the start of the manically busy post-launch stage, here are some key change management practices that have brought me to this point maximizing my chance of success in my risk-averse orientated approach.
- Understand your goals, in terms of where you want to be and what you want to feel when you achieve them. If you can connect your passion with your goals, your ability to reach your goals will be done in a more qualitative manner making for a more sustainable result. Detailed research and validation of your goals should always be your first step in a change management project.
- Evaluate risk in continuous cycles over the period of your change project in terms of what elements both positive and negative were ranked and if the data behind your rankings is estimated or actual. This approach allowed me to build a data-driven picture of risk on a simple spreadsheet over time showing a lowering score and was helpful in connecting the dots to new risks previously unseen. Ranking each element in risk likelihood and impact on a scale of 1-10 is the best way with commentary around them to quantify risk, assuming you are not using any complex algorithms associated with managed risk services.
- Project plans should break up your project into critical and non-critical paths with an approach to take in the objectives of that stage in the project. Remember change affects people more than processes so if people are impacted in your project path, ensure they are brought along in a critical path of change. The goal here is to ensure they are informed and educated about the substance of change when it is clear to you, not before then.
- Be credible from the start. It's a good idea to ensure competencies and education around new tasking and requirements are in place. An ambitious yet phased approach is recommended where people feel in control. You need to ensure you bring your people with you along the project path.
- Scenario plan for failure and success. Expect the best and plan for the worst but don't be caught out by your own success. Be sure of your competencies and those of your compatriots in whatever you are doing. In short, capitalise on your success using a planned data-driven approach, that is subject to review and refinement.
- In change management, every next step and next phase is new to everybody so ensure your planned approach is timed to include support processes such as training and documentation steps. Also, change products always need to be auditable in companies at all levels given the inherent risk they bring to an organization.
- Define processes in a manner that is woven into your overall process infrastructure at a base working level where steps are carried out manually at first. Automate what you can but make sure you have a central repository of process knowledge, not several.
There is more in terms of change management best practices but the above features in my prior and planned steps of my own journey. Change management requires good planning that is flexible, quick thinking and being comfortable with both structured and unstructured environments. Above all, it requires a calm and methodological approach as all change management success starts with people, then ideas, then process and finally their execution. Stay tuned for more on writing in this blog along with articles on other areas of interest in the infrastructure and DevOps arenas. To not miss out on any updates on my availability, tips on related areas or anything of interest to all, sign up for one of my newsletters in the footer of any page on Maolte. I look forward to us becoming pen pals!