Use Culture to Your Advantage: IT Integration Success

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The information era demands that technology professionals excel not only in the technology space but also as change managers. Given the complexities and constantly changing nature of technology, this expectation must become an organizational standard for the successful implementation of innovation.  

In 2006, Andrew McAfee stated, Executives need to stop looking at IT projects as technology installations and start looking at them as periods of organizational change that they have a responsibility to manage.

Fast forward to 2020. I work with clients to do just that—support executives as they launch new systems to redesign business processes and standardize workflows.

Abstract in nature and, by default, a subjective topic, organizational change is something we struggle to define in concrete terms. Every work culture grapples with how to institutionalize a concept that, inherently, everyone thinks about differently. 

Perhaps the clearest and easiest way to think about this is by framing it as a question: What does organizational change mean to technology integration work?

Here are some guiding principles for how I have started to think about it with my clients.

Seven Guiding Organizational Change Mantras

  1. Organizational change begins with the review of the IT proposal and how it will impact various stakeholders.
  2. Engage colleague in the early planning stages to prepare them for the upcoming changes through intentional efforts in as many ways as possible, including surveys to the community, meetings with advisory boards, and bi-weekly website updates.
  3. Once a vendor has been selected, host a retreat with key stakeholders to discuss their objectives and deadlines that must be met over the life of the project. This dialogue sets expectations for the project and allows you to better understand your colleague’s needs.
  1. Form an advisory committee of individuals that you know are critics. Yes, critics—that is not a typo. Your critics allow you to gain a better understanding of the “no-go” perspective thus forcing you to diversify your strategy. In the end, the project will be much stronger.
  2. Set up regular meetings to understand their challenges and work to convert them to allies. Later, this group will play a key role in guiding their colleagues’ perceptions of the project.
  3. Create interprofessional teams. These are the backbone of excellent implementation. In this capacity, all professionals leverage their own talents and tap into one another’s strengths, approaching strategic planning as a collective whole. Recognize when you need to bring in a third party to help close important conversations and move one step closer to execution.
  4. Dedicate time and money to organizational change efforts. Insufficient resources devoted to organizational change is one of the top barriers to lasting change.

As Peter Drucker stated, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”  Thus, working as if culture and strategy are separate functions puts your success at risk.  Organizational culture must be attended to—particularly when embarking upon large scale technology projects. Do not let culture drive the success of your project. Shift the paradigm and use the culture to your advantage!

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