Tuesday, 30 October 2007

The answer to myth 7: New processes and systems will create the new necessary behaviours

The traditional management of change is often based on changing the systems and processes. The establishment of new processes and systems often assumes that behaviours will follow as a consequence of those changes. It is expected and taken for granted.

However, as we know, it is often the case that people just continue to do things like they did them before. That is why we have all those incredibly big fiasco's of new processes and systems' implementations, often lead by a new IT system, which end up with ‘poor usage and acceptance’.

Viral Change tells us that the assumption is wrong. In many cases, we see temporary peaks of adoption, but with poor guarantees of sustainability. The role of behaviours in the process is flawed. New processes and systems do not create new behaviours. We need to have new behaviours in place first, in order to support ant new processes and systems. Remember the case of the un-collaborative sales force? (See my book, Viral Change, for this case study.) New processes and electronic systems do not create collaborating. On the contrary, you need to have collaboration in order to support these systems. Just a small change of paradigm!

Many organisations are stuck with this flawed process and it is not until behaviours are ‘re-placed’ that we start seeing the light. As described in the book, the biggest fiasco area I know is CRM: an area where the software and IT industry has produced very sexy tools and where the implementers use that incredibly weak assumption: ‘it is so good, people will adopt it’. There is no behavioural science expertise in most of those areas, so it is not surprising that the wrong assumption prevails. Even in those cases where people are aware of the naivety of the assumption, little is done to remedy it. Blaming IT or the specification or the project teams is a useful alibi. Blaming lack of stakeholder involvement is another one, a funny one, particularly when the implementation has been done through a myriad of project teams, user teams and stakeholder Task Forces.

If you want to read more about Viral Change, or want to revisit some of the other myths, you can read it all again in my book of the same title: Viral Change: the alternative to slow, painful and unsuccessful management of change in organisations

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