The Pain of Change

Posted by in Ty Kiisel: Strategic Project Management

Benjamin Franklin said, “In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.”

Implementing change is never easy. When change does happen, particularly within the project management process, most of the common implementation problems are really excuses—not roadblocks.

Knowing (and then educating everyone involved with the change) upfront about what to expect can make the culture shock a little easier to deal with. I’ve noticed over the years that “fear of change” in most cases is a fear of the unknown. Here are some of the most common fears that organizations face as they try to implement new methodologies:

  1. It’s different. Realizing that there are some people who really thrive on change, but most people don’t, is important. You might get push-back simply because it’s a change. I think the key here is to understand that sometimes it takes time for people to embrace the change. Whether it’s a new practice, a new process or a new boss—giving people time to accept change is important.
  2. Some people (managers and team members) are uncomfortable with the additional scrutiny that often accompanies change. If your organization is implementing a project review process to evaluate potential projects, some stakeholders might be a little nervous that their proposed projects might not stand up up to peer review. It’s important to realize that projects that might be important to one senior manager or stakeholder might not be important to another. Making the review process transparent and understandable to everyone often helps reduce those types of concerns.
  3. Some projects are more important than others. Implementing a sound work management methodology will mean only those projects that provide the most business value will get pushed forward—not the  “pet” projects of influential stakeholders. Because this might negatively impact some projects, there are stakeholders that may try to block the process.
  4. There are tough decisions to be made. Sometimes it’s not easy for decision-makers to make choices regarding projects and people, but it has to happen. It’s important that senior managers understand that they have a responsibility to the organization—not just their individual departments or careers. There will be some who don’t like this fact.
  5. Implementing change takes time. Regardless of the change, it never happens overnight. It takes time to implement new methods, it takes time for people to accept the change and accommodating for  that time is crucial for change initiatives to be successful.

With any change, there will be those who embrace the change and others who don’t. Be prepared for both and your efforts will be successful. What are some of the challenges you have successfully faced when implementing change.