"Things will get worse before they
get better" - Ehrman's Commentary on Ginberg's Theorem (from the infamous Murphy's Laws)
Edward A. Murphy,
Jnr. was one of the engineers on rocket-sled experiments undertaken by the U.S. Air Force in the 1940s to test ejector seat technologies.
After one experiment failed (due to a very
dangerous cock-up where no less than 16 parts were fitted the wrong way round), Murphy made his original observation - oft abbreviated as "if anything can go wrong, it will". This spread like
wildfire through the technical professions, starting the huge body of "Murphy's Law" we know and love today.
The J-Curve Effect observed in change
Where Change Management is concerned, the most
appropriate of Murphy's laws is that 'things will get worse before they get better'. This is often described as the "J-Curve effect" by practitioners:
The stakeholders will normally believe (through a
combination of naivety, your hyped business case and the efforts the project has made) that things will start to improve right away after go-live.
Alas, the normal result is that things get worse first. Why? Because you've upset the system. You've
introduced instability and change into a system that (albeit sub-optimally) operated on comfortable and well-established habits. It takes time for people to get used to the new portal!
Surviving the Dip
Your Change Management approach should have three key aims:
- Managing Stakeholders' expectations
- Minimising the depth of the dip - Making sure you come out of it again!
If the disruption to performance is too great (or the
benefits take too long to come through) then there is a risk that your stakeholders will withdraw their support for the project and you will fail.
Change Management Techniques
The following three-step approach should be used to plan the Change
Management Approach. The example Plan (see panel bottom-right) may also prove useful.
Step 1: Change Gap Analysis - Define Current and Desired States - Describe and measure the Gap - Define Critical Success Factors
Step 2: Assess Change Variables - Assess Culture & History Factors - Assess Specific Resistance & Readiness - Establish Specific Support for Change
Step 3: The Deployment Plan - Establish Network of Change Agents - Develop a Learning Plan - Develop a Rewards Process & Plan
Summary of Principles
If you have executed your planning properly, you should be able to answer
questions like: (a) how big a change is this for people?; (b) what does a successful outcome look like?; (c) who will fight me and who will help me?; (d) how will people re-learn the new way of doing
things; and (e) how will they be rewarded for making the change?
This can be distilled into three principles: 1) You recognise that change can be hard
2) You put people at the heart of change 3) You help & reward those that change
Change Management Plan (doc)
Incorporating Change Gap Analysis (to measure the gap between the 'as is' and 'to be' states) and the Deployment Plan (to manage the transition).
Who Moved My Cheese?
Read & perhaps buy the best-ever-selling book about managing change in your own life and those of others (and it takes less than an hour to read!)
Managing Change & Expectations
A useful series of Articles from Paul Allen including a summary of the The Four Stages of Transition (i.e. shock, defensive retreat, acknowledgment, adaption & changing).