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Evolve or Face Extinction: The Nature of Change Management

Level 13

Two recent thwack conversations touched on the theme of change and initiated tremendous engagement from community members. The first article, Moving Network Configuration Management Forward by lindsayhill‌, discussed network configuration management that enables higher reliability at the speed of business and the hold up with moving forward. The second discussion, Why are IT people afraid of change? by optwpierce, covered a situation where an IT pro ran into IT inertiaother organizations refused to adopt a more efficient method.

I’ve mentioned before that the only guarantee in IT is that something will break. I’d like to amend tothe only guarantee in IT is that something will change. People, process, and technology will change. Accordingly, IT professionals need to adjust to those dynamics as well.

So why doesn’t IT just change? To understand the angst against change, you have to understand what changes in IT and the drivers of change. IT change management used to be characterized by just IT operations only i.e. those configurations associated with systems, applications, storage, networks, and software. IT received an annual budget that it could spend as it saw fit to support all of the business projects. Because of the steady, constant nature of the IT budget, IT could plan on a regular cadence for procurement, deployment, testing, and integration.

waves-change.jpg

Unfortunately, many times this did not meet the business requirements or the business opportunity window. This opened the door for IT-as-a-Service from someone other than IT. And guess what, others can sometimes do it better, faster, and cheaper.


So two things emerged against change: process and people. Sentiments like “We’ve always done it this way” “It’s not broken, why fix it” or “If we automate and orchestrate those responsibilities, what will I be doing?” arose in IT organizations. However, these excuses can’t hold off the impending IT transformation. The business is mandating that IT operations match the speed and the scale of services that it wants to use. IT change management needs to evolve to incorporate business operations alongside its day-to-day IT operations.

The threat is clear to IT budgets and IT professionalseither effectively and efficiently deal with change management at scale and high velocity or be completely disrupted out of a career. I highly recommend reading the aforementioned articles and the associated comments. And share how you and your IT organization are dealing with change in the comment section below.

12 Comments
jkump
Level 15

I think that the biggest hurdle in small to medium sized companies is the learning curve to get the IT staff up to the level that can support the driving change from the Business.  It seems trivial to us in the trenches that we welcome and fear change.  I personally welcome and am a strong advocate for change and particularly the proper method to implement change.  However, there are times when it is more prudent to slowly roll out changes at a rate that the customers can actually absorb rather than just throwing it at the customers and causing the environment to collapse.

Technology is a wonderful two-sided sword.  Wielded correctly and everyone wins, wielded incorrectly and we die.

kong.yang
Level 13

Great points jkump‌! Thank you for sharing.

Agree that IT rigor and discipline is required in services and apps deliverables. Compliance, governance and security are key deliverables of IT pros. The evaluation and integration time for new tech, ultimately, will vary depending on the IT pro's experience and expertise.

clubjuggle
Level 13

This mindset seems to rear its head when deploying network management systems. I recently had a conversation about someone who thought they should be able to set up network monitoring and then just let it run, not needing to touch it again. I said to tell them that is true only as long as they don't change anything about their environment. I suggested that if they think back about how much their IT infrastructure had changed over the last five years, they would understand why their NMS solution would need to continue to evolve over the next five.

kong.yang
Level 13

Thank you for sharing clubjuggle‌‌! And your analogy is spot on!

Jfrazier
Level 18

The opportunity with change is that it requires more work to implement properly (testing, patching, etc.).  Otherwise change is painful and people don't want change because they don't want the pain or work involved...

kong.yang
Level 13

Jfrazier‌ exactly - speaks to the inertia in IT organizations and personnel. Thank you for sharing!

clubjuggle
Level 13

Thomas Edison may have put this best. "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."

rharland2012
Level 15

I've noticed, too, that change management processes are often resisted or met with chagrin - especially in small-to-medium-sized businesses as jkump‌ mentioned - due to the cultural contagion known as 'firefighting'. I've seen past peers push back simply because the old model - they're notified of a problem that needs resolution NOW, sprint to the scene of the crime, fix it, and move on after catching their breath. "Oh, I'll document the change later." Of course, by the time they intended to actually document said change, another fire/sprint/extinguish cycle has begun. It's tough - but essential - to show that the ancillary pieces of change management as a practice are the keys to undoing the need for the firefighting mindset to begin with!

Good topic, kong.yang‌!

kong.yang
Level 13

Love your firefighting analogy rharland2012‌! Experienced that many times and yes, documentation is oftentimes a low priority but it is a vital & necessary step in the change management process. Thank you for sharing your insights!

cahunt
Level 17

Change is inevitable, even if it's just the running status of your systems changing from Node up Green to that **IT's a brick now Red! Mass change is also the challenge in the enterprise world. Being able to script your changes is a must otherwise you will be here until next week performing that small change that has to take place on all switches due to a change in policy, or an addition of a logging server, etc.

cahunt
Level 17

interesting, I've known people who had their dream job and never went to work a day in their life - until it felt like work .... so now they work a regular job type job.

Forget work, just keep busy.

mhudson
Level 7

Does anyone have a Documented Change Management procedure, they are willing to share, that also includes the NCM & SCM processes?

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