Help! No One Is Following Our Processes!
I Just Don’t Understand Why They Don’t See The Value!
We did everything by the book and We thought for sure this would work.
- The CIO stood up and declared that she/he believes
- We sent everyone to ITIL Training
- We engaged knowledgeable consultants
- We developed process design teams with participation from key stakeholders
- We had creative communication sessions
- We conducted proof of concept pilots, focus groups, process testing workshops
- We delivered quick wins and small improvements to show people we were on the right track
- We designed and executed a brilliant marketing campaign
- We purchased a great ITSM Service Management Software
- We trained all key stakeholders on our new processes
Why then is there no real adoption or compliance to the new Process?!!!
Interesting question, can you relate?
Apparently many organizations are in the same boat. This week alone I spoke to three quite different companies with this specific challenge.
Now to be clear, all of the points above are necessary and the right things to do when you are tackling a major transformation project. However all of that is not sufficient to ensure the organization follows the process after you go live and disband the project team.
The item missing from this list comes down to Professor John Kotter’s 8th Step for Managing Organizational Change “Anchoring new approaches in the culture” from his well known books “Leading Change” and the “Heart of Change”
- Establishing a sense of urgency
- Creating the guiding coalition
- Developing a vision and strategy
- Communicating the change vision
- Empowering broad-based action
- Generating short-term wins
- Consolidating gains and producing more change
- Anchoring new approaches in the culture
Without that last step in the Kotter model the result of all your work comes to naught leaving you (and the rest of IT management) frustrated and disappointed.
In the end, this last step may well be the most critical to your transformation activities. You have to find the courage and organizational will to transcend silos, create new governance/ownership structures, new roles and personal performance measures that will ensure that Executives, Managers and Staff feel personally accountable to actually change their behaviour and practice the new methods.
When you address these critical success factors for anchoring the new approach at a personal level for every individual in your organization you will get real change. Oh, the more positively inclined and cooperative people will get your message and intuitively understand why the new process is better. However it probably means more work for them and they will willing follow the process until during a stressful moment they are forced to make decisions about what to do and what to drop.
Unless the individuals / departments and organizations believe they are being measured and held accountable for the process in a real and tangible way that actually has consequences, they will resort to the path of least resistance when deciding about how they operate and what work they will prioritize.
This inability to establish the organizational capability to deploy the process is one of the key impediments to success that we hear over and over again, and is a key finding of the research we did in 2008 and 2011.
Moving people to change their current practices takes effort on many levels. In one sense you need to engineer out of the organization any potential legitimate excuse for non compliance. A topic I explore in greater depth in the following article: Employee Compliance A Key Factor For ITIL Process Adoption
So, if you are on an IT Service Management journey and you look back on your efforts and are asking “Why is there no real adoption or compliance to the new Process?” , the chances are that you have not created the necessary organizational structures, governance roles and performance measurement systems to motivate people to believe that this is a change that benefits them as well as the organization and that they have to follow the processes or suffer the consequences.
Ask yourself, “What are the real consequences of not following that process you worked so hard to establish?”
Build it and they will come only works in fantasy movies like “Field of Dreams”
You can have the world’s best process design and a great IT Service Management tool and people will still not choose to change and follow your process unless you have anchored your new approaches into the culture with personal accountability.
Troy’s Thoughts What Are Yours
PS: Make sure you check out the comments for this article from several of Pink’s most experienced Executive Consultants.
“Experience has taught us that men will not adopt and carry into execution measures the best calculated for their own good without the intervention of a coercive power” ~George Washington
I would add one other thought to your points. One of the keys I have found to changing individual behavior is the amount (measure in time and energy) that front line management and senior management is prepared to spend on compliance.
At the front line level - individuals will be prone to try to go back to the old way of working or their comfort zone unless they are reminded by their manager or supervisor of the importance of staying the new course. This takes management time and commitment on a continuing basis - there is no one and done.
At the senior level - the CIO and her direct reports must be asking for and acting upon reporting that reflects the continued commitment of the organization to the new behaviors - the underlying human activity of processes. If folks know that their manager, their managers manager and so forth are paying attention to overall performance, there is less motivation to back slide.
As Troy said, its all about changing the organization’s culture. Kotter defines culture as the shared values of the organization and norms of behavior. It is very hard to change the values but it is possible, through processes, to change the norms of behavior. The bottom line is reinforcement of the desired work behavior until the teams see the new ways as THE WAY of working around here.
My two cents
This is a common problem. People have strayed from the path ever since there have been paths and people. Some fail to take even the 1st step of the proverbial journey.
Process compliance is needed if an organization is going to get to the desired end state. The word “process” is rooted in words that meant to advance or procede, implying a way or path. (By saying there is a path I am not saying there is no better way to the desired end state, just that while we are looking for that better way, lets make progress on the path we have already decided to take.)
In this Blog Troy addresses how to help folks stay on the ITSM path.
It seems the straying from the path has gotten worse everywhere, not just in IT! As Jack was posting his comment to Troy’s blog, Brad Power was posting a blog at the Harvard Business Review about the same thing happenign everywhere! http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2010/09/does_your_company_suffer_from.html. His findings are very similar to Troy’s!
There are two statements that I firmly believe are important to your blog.
1. What gets rewarded gets done. This means that their has to be a focus on having staff change their behavior to the new required behavior. This means ensuring that job descriptions are updated with new process responsibilities and that also performance plans, performance appraisal systems and reward / compensation programs all take performing process activities into consideration. If old behavior is what is rewarded then this is exactly what an organization will get. Direct report managers as well as process owners and process managers can all support this.
2. You get what you inspect, not what you expect. An organization can expect their staff to follow the new process and use the new or modified tool appropriately, but unless they are inspecting this, there will be no guarantee that it is being done. I like to recommend an audit 30 days after a process is deployed and for Incident and Change Management this would be auditing the tickets. Do we have good incident descriptions, are the prioritization and categoriztion models being used correctly. Is the risk model in change management being used correctly so we can determine the correct change type. 90 days after a process is deployed I recommend doing a process assessment where the process, roles, policies, tool etc is assessed for proper usage. Assessments and audits need to be built into your plans over the course of the year. This activity also supports Continual Service Improvement. Conducting assessments and audits creates visibility and shows that this is important to the success of the organization.