Let’s face it, the world is changing at such an incredible pace that hardly anyone can predict where it’s all going. Maybe we’re slowly entering the next ice age, where all measured global warming effects are merely a precursor to a much colder climate, and maybe, just maybe, in some years and tears from now our (faulty) DNA will be rewritten, re-sequenced and genetically improved by little creepy robots working as a bunch of busy bees in their own dimension referred to as nanoworld (nano = one billionth [e.g. of a meter]) fully hidden from our sight, and who knows they could even “carry” their own intelligence and be fully sentient like smart engineered viruses. Yeah, I love science and science fiction, as I believe the two exist, and will always exist, in full symbiosis. Where was I, oh yes, indeed, the topic of change! This article is one in a series of many that describes change and change management in all its fame and glory. Why, I can hear some of you think? Well, firstly, because English is definitely not my first language and I need to practice my writing skills, secondly because I enjoy the topic, and last but not least I enjoy writing and I hope that some of you equally enjoy reading. Didn’t Isaac Newton say that “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”? Well, I guess for every author there’s an equal and opposite reader (or at least one may hope so in order to account for one’s own existence).
It’s funny how my Nokia mobile phone just slit of my newly acquired “An Introduction to Modern Astrophysics, 2nd ed.” book – which I used to look up Newton’s 3rd law – into my always patiently, obediently, awaiting and serving plastic green transparent bin (fully brand-less) on top of a just emptied can of “V Double Hit Guarana Energy Drink 500ml”. It makes you wonder if the forces of the Universe were trying to tell you something, or whether I merely used this opportunity to do some unpaid unconscious marketing, very deep sigh.
Let’s reiterate the 10 commandments of change management, unravel change management’s most basic (is there a word that describes “less than basic”?) activities, and somewhere along the kerb come up with some sort of explanation and/or definition for a process, as most definitions I’ve seen to date are requiring at least 5 PHDs to decipher, let alone comprehend and make sense of. Again, take a deep breath, relax, buckle up, get your can of energy drink, read on, absorb, and most importantly have fun!
The 10 commandments of change management
I admit, it’s still not clear to me whether I should be using “thou shalt” or “you shall”, but the ears prefer “thou shalt”, and so it shall be. Close your eyes, slowly inhale and exhale (but not too slow, because when you experience signs of turning blue [Smurf/Avatar blue is most definitely too deep a hue] you may want to consider making the slow a wee bit faster) 30 times and then allow the 10 commandments to burn their message onto your retinas as to be preserved and used for at least your moral and mortal (I made a typo and then decided to leave moral in – think about this decision) existence.
- Thou shalt adhere to the rules and guidance of the change management policy
- Thou shalt provide the organisation with enough time to properly assess and plan each change (this time will be agreed for each change category)
- Thou shalt record all change (from miniscule to mega-sized)
- Thou shalt assess each change on added business value (monetary, but also soft factors), on complete lifecycle costs (implementation, maintenance/support, removal/disposal) and on risks (threats and opportunities)
- Thou shalt ask for change authorisation from the appropriate stakeholders and/or committees (the stakeholders/committees stamp)
- Thou shalt approve each change to continue/discontinue in the change management process (the change management process stamp)
- Thou shalt have a remediation/back-out plan in place for each change
- Thou shalt test each change
- Thou shalt review each change against success criteria
- Thou shalt communicate with all applicable stakeholders on the progress of change
Just visualise the 10 commandments to be rolling across your screen in the same format as the introduction used in Star Wars with the same background music, causing the same WOW factor when originally released in 1977. How cool would that be? Use the force Luke! I’m your father’s brother’s uncle’s auntie’s adopted niece’s twin sister’s long lost daughter’s son! Do you remember princess Leia’s hairstyle? Until today I’m convinced she was wearing old-style headphones under those hair Danishes (preferable raspberry) receiving instructions from Master Jedi Deity Lucas himself.
To be continued...
Neah, not yet! That only happens in trilogies that somehow turn into utterly boring quintilogy, sexilogy, and septilogy cash-cows. Please don’t give me a sequel to Avatar! One movie with giant Smurfs/Vulcan crossbreeds was more than enough for me. Whatever happened to Harry Potter? Are they still making those movies? I sincerely hope not, although I must say I’m really enjoying reading “Barry Trotter and the unnecessary sequel, the book nobody has been waiting for” from Michael Gerber.
Processes, systems, and the stuff we do
The person that came up with those academic definitions for a process should be facing the firing squad, or at least be prepared to face the basket looking down from the guillotine. The world would be a far better place without some of the new ITIL v3 definitions! Whatever happened to Miss Simplicity?
Get yourself a pair of shiny new shoes (come on my female readers out there, I know you love your shiny shoes) and make sure you ask for the shoebox, because once arrived home safely and well, you can chuck away those shoes and focus for a minute on that shoebox. That shoebox represents a process! Huh what, a process? Yes, a process! Be patient, all will be revealed for those continuing reading.
Ah, I can see you’re still here, isn’t the world full of surprises! Believe it or not, but little invisible pixies (most likely blue with pointy ears – or feel free to imagine “The Wee Free Men” as described by the somewhat eccentric Terry Pratchett, as they are absolutely mindboggling awesome creatures) are working inside that shoebox making things happen, unfortunately they can’t see anything right now, and more importantly they can’t breathe, so I’m going to ask you to cut two holes at the opposite short sides of the shoebox, and furthermore I’m going to ask you to connect a small doorbell next to one of the freshly cut holes. Are you still with me?
It’s rather funny; because if you stuff your dirty old shoes through the hole with the doorbell, and don’t forget to press the bell, then if you listen carefully you can hear many different noises and sometimes even voices coming from inside the box (don’t peek inside, well, at least not yet). If you hang around a bit longer, then before you know it, shiny polished shoes (as new) will be pushed out from the opposite hole; the hole on the other side of the shoebox.
That’s what processes are all about! There are process inputs (dirty shoes), there’s a process trigger (ringing the doorbell, so the pixies know there’s work coming their way), there are process activities (pixies working inside the shoebox), and last but not least there are process outputs (shiny shoes). The general idea is that the process outputs have a real or perceived increased value compared to the original process inputs. You don’t want those pixies to make shiny shoes dirty, now do you?
Where was I heading? The mind is a strange thing, and keeps circling around ideas like vultures do for their prey. Oh yes, a definition for a process. I guess it should be something like: “The stuff we do to increase stuff’s value!”, or a bit more formally: “The activities we perform to achieve a certain outcome”. Anyway, I guess any definition will do except the definition used by ITIL v3 which states: “A process is an example of a closed-loop system because it provides change and transformation towards a goal and utilises feedback for self-reinforcing and self-corrective action.” To this I can only say “crap squared” and “get a life”. I never said or promised I would be subtle, not with my Dutch background!
Lights, camera, sound, action!
Rewind and fast forward: “shoebox, holes, doorbell, blue pixies, Terry Pratchett, process, activities, stuff in, stuff out, added value, crappy definitions”. Are you with me again?
If a process is “The stuff we do to increase stuff’s value!” then what exactly is the part that says “stuff we do”? What are those busy blue pixies actually doing? Well, that all depends which shoebox you’re looking at, and in this case we’re looking at the shoebox that’s wearing a label on the outside that reads “Best Practice Change Management”. No, not necessarily ITIL v3 aligned, as this author doesn’t agree with some of the ‘changes’ made in this version compared to earlier versions, which were way more straightforward, easier to follow, and a lot less academic. Not all innovation equals improvement, I guess that’s why OGC (the Office of Government Commerce) is talking ITIL v3 Refresh-Refresh (no I’m not text-stuttering here!)
Let’s lift the shoebox’s lid and observe those Schrödinger pixies. I guess under the tune of “hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s change we do, ho-ho” they’re roughly performing the following activities:
- Receiving submitted change requests
- Recording change requests
- Classifying change requests
- Organising assessment of the change requests
- Assessing change requests
- Approving or rejecting change requests
- Scheduling approved change requests
- Coordinating change requests
- Monitoring change requests
- Reviewing change requests
- Closing change requests
- Reporting on change requests
- Actioning on deviations from the agreed change management process
- Improving the change management process
More to be added shortly :-) Sorry, February went a lot faster than expected! Details will be added for each of the activities.
Live long and prosper