Organizational Change Management

One of the most important yet often less fully considered aspects of using Service Management is Organizational Change Management. When it comes down to it, Service Management is about people—as customers, users, providers, maintainers, supporters and a myriad of other roles. So while we get caught up in getting effective, efficient and economical services, processes and technologies in place to provide value, we must not push aside the importance of attitude, behavior and culture.

We have all encountered new situations, changes in process or work flow, new technologies and other unfamiliar situations. Most people recognized from experience that different people deal with change in different manners. But we do not have to rely simply on hearsay or belief or personal experience. We can turn to experts in the field of Organizational Change Management for a way to work through the adoption of new ideas, approaches and technologies.

In 1962 in his work Diffusion of Innovations, Everett Rogers laid out a theory as to how new technologies, ideas and changes are introduced, accepted and institutionalized in an organization. Rogers’ Adoption Theory, as it has become known, proved highly important in helping to establish the field of Organizational Change Management. We can apply this theory to Service Management and our efforts to effectively and efficiently implement new processes, services and technologies.

Rogers spoke of five categories of individuals in relationship to adoption of new ideas and technologies. Each of these groups takes a different view of change and innovation and reacts differently.
  • Innovators—these individuals accept change often for the sake of change. These types should be identified early in an OCM effort and used as change agents to help convince others
  • Early Adopters—These individuals take some convincing, but when shown the benefits of the change will become some of your strongest supporters
  • Early Majority—These individuals represent the bulk of people in your organization and require a fair amount of convincing and evidence of the benefits of the change
  • Late Majority—These individuals take a large amount of convincing and are among your most skeptical people with regard to the benefits of the change
  • Laggards—these individuals may never be convinced and will often dislike change for the sake of disliking change
I suggest you begin by identifying people who fit in each category. Focus first on getting the Innovators to serve as agents of change by becoming bearers of the messages you want people to hear. Then you can approach each group in turn. As you secure the support and buy-in from that group use the group to help convince the others. The number of people who support the change in process or approach will outnumber those who are against it. The tide of change and support and favoritism will be on your side. Any Laggards or others who still resist must be then shown that their resistance is doing more harm to the organization than good.
If we can learn to leverage the ideas of Everett Rogers, we can create an advantage for ourselves in terms of people accepting new ideas, technologies and ways of doing things in our organizations. Rather than let people embrace resistance to change, use Rogers’ Adoption Theory to get people to embrace innovation.

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