Monthly Archives: January 2013

Organization Theory and the Transformation of Large, Complex Organizations

Since the late 1990s, the transformation of large, complex organizations has become a topic of considerable interest in industry, academia, and government, especially in the context of a global economy linked to increasingly pervasive technology.  Such transformation is understandably of particular interest in the United States because, in many ways, it is defined globally by its enormous and influential government and business organization as well as by the reputation of some of its most prestigious academic ones.

Dissertation: Donald H. Rumsfeld

Transformative Change – It’s Bigger Than You Think

Dr. Linda Miller’s latest article in Government CIO Magazine talks about how approach communicating that a transformative effort is approaching.  It highlights the primary elephants in the room to recognize to retain audience attention and avoid the “you’ve got to be kidding” response.

Communicating clearly and in realistic terms from the get-go is critical to opening the pathway for transformative change and avoiding the paralysis of disbelief and starting the wheels of innate wisdom turning.

Government CIO Magazine


Defining IT in Business Terms

Beyond being table stakes for doing business at all, the strategic position of IT has expanded from being an enabler of business process and a toolset for productivity, to being a meeting place for thoughts, a collection point for corporate wisdom, and a connection maker for customers and staff.  One could say that IT is as fundamental to the organization as having a staff to do work and a place to do business. This puts a new spin on business risk and business value definition that boards and executives are still catching up with.

IT as a Resource

The Process-People-Technology construct that was a rudder through the late ‘90s and into the first decade of the new millennium comes under scrutiny in the light of an emerging business definition of IT, and today, it looks more like…

People & Technology     >     Process & Project   >    Product

( Resources )          ( Creation Vehicle )

People and Information technology must be kept in sync in order to be applied optimally as resources, through corporate processes and projects, to produce the products the company sells.  This synchronization has proved difficult to do, particularly with the speed of change escalating year over year.

When we think of IT as a resource that needs to be understood and developed and applied just like people, the risk management picture changes and IT starts to be regarded as something to be acquired, like talent – get the best there is for the money available, and considering the organizational capability maturity that will apply it. Also, the opportunity costs of not maturing existing IT are the same as the opportunity costs of not maturing people to meet marketplace demands.

IT as a Location

Comparisons between outdated skillsets and outdated IT hardware and software aside, the business definition of IT can be expected to continue to evolve toward a point where it replaces brick and mortar as the place where business is conducted.

The IT place-of-business houses the knowledge capital of the organization, and is a connection maker between physical locations and people, providing a meeting place for dialogue, collaboration, and creation of new thought.  IT leverages business reach and removes physical barriers to conducting business and to consuming and applying human abilities.

Many organizations already categorize hardware IT with physical facilities when it comes to managing risk, but software that connects people should be included, thereby keeping all aspects of the IT place of business synchronized.

Leadership Commitment

IT is and extension of place and an extension of people.

Understanding corporate IT well enough to change how it behaves is as complex and painstaking a piece of work as understanding staff sufficiently to change their behaviour to meet business challenges.  To express this in terms of risk: if not understood, valued and purpose-synchronized neither your IT nor your people can achieve the necessary magnitude and frequency of change for transformation to occur or to maintain the right level of agility to remain viable.

In accepting this reality, corporate leaders must evaluate and retune their strategic and ‘good-governance’ commitments systems, software, networks and IT architecture to the same depth and breadth as the commitment they make to their people and their physical locations.

What a CMO Can Do For Your Organization

Most people say “Isn’t that what a PMO is for?” when the subject of a Change Management Office comes up.  The answer is, yes and no.

Where the PMO acts to standardize how initiatives are raised and executed, and manages the mechanics of the demand on corporate resources, project reporting and interrelationships over an entire portfolio, the CMO can act to provide an enterprise view of the aggregate impacts to staff across the portfolio.  Like the PMO, the CMO can provide a framework for internal and contracted change management resources to work within for consistency in approach, and can serve as proactive strategist as well as intervener whenever barriers to forward motion surface.

A CMO can take many forms over its lifespan, and grow alongside your organization just like a PMO and in fact CMO functions reside within an enterprise PMO for many organizations.  However, Change Management can be instinctively assigned an HR meaning within the minds of executive, management and staff. And positioning the CMO within HR is appropriate if the primary emphasis of Change Management work is expected to involve organisational development pieces of work : mergers and acquisitions, restructures, leadership development, outsourcing, etc.

While some organizational cultures will initially find the notion of Change Management threatening in the same way as some might regard the idea of seeking the services of a Psychologist, the CMO function can be positioned as a way to deal with the issues of :

  • backlogged change,
  • past ill-fitting or partial change implementation, and as
  • support for management and staff in absorbing further changes coming down the pipe.

Additionally, a fundamental function the CMO can fulfill is to raise the change management capability within leaders at all levels.  Where transformation is concerned, this work furthers the ability of organizations to focus the wisdom, talents, abilities and efforts of people on transformational change, thereby supporting Transformational Leadership methods.

It is important to be very clear about the purpose and function of the Change Management Office or function you are implementing especially where change management is brand new to the organization. Not surprisingly, implementing a CMO function works best when change management practices are applied.

The arrival of a CMO or like function can be a beacon for stewarding transformational initiatives into benefits realization, and as a catalyst for the unrelenting organizational development associated with preparing people for wave over wave of transformative change.  Whether your CMO is positioned as an advisory function placed within HR, or a combination of enterprise standards and practices administered and applied through the PMO (or both), its presence can help pave the way for transformative change.