Organisational Change Management Lessons from Cisco

Organisational change management lessons from Cisco

Change management structures that promote organisational change in an environment where continuous change is required to remain productive and competitive are becoming more a necessity. Increasingly I find the organisations I work with no longer require change management expertise for a single change initiative, but rather for a continuously changing market and culturally diverse workforce.

When considering the pace of organisational change required in today’s business environments, people naturally think of the impact of ever-changing IT. However, with companies and their customer base becoming more global, the pace of cultural change is every bit as challenging as the pace of IT. Change management teams are finding they need to adapt to methodologies which allow continuous change to exist in harmony with people’s natural desire for stability.

One such company that has evolved its internal change management structure, and aligned it with the need for continuous organisational change, is Cisco.

Here I look at how Cisco manages to keep its ship on course while redesigning its rudder.

An organisational change management team for effective continuous change

Cisco, with 75,000 employees worldwide, has a workforce that is not only diverse but dispersed. It sells its products and services across different continents and to different customers. It has found the pace of change in its markets to be even faster than the pace of change in IT, with cultural change at the top of the list.

In order to manage the organisational change needs of the company, it has instigated a hub and spoke structure, with its organisational change management team at the centre. This team has up to 27 members at any one time, though only two of these are permanent. The remaining members of the team are hand-picked from where current change will most affect and with regards to the expertise most needed.

This helps provide an overarching level of stability, while remaining agile and in constant flux: mimicking the continuous change needed for Cisco to remain at the top of its game.

A simple approach for complex change management issues

Businesses now operate in cultural and market environments of overwhelming complexity. Cisco’s hub and spoke system of organisational change management allows the company to empower stakeholders of change with consistency of approach. Its methodologies for change management are simple:

  • It seeks to create consensus across large numbers of people
  • It designs change programs with the stakeholders of change
  • It develops and encourages integration between organisational change management and project management teams
  • It maintains speed through an agile approach

Further, its hub and spoke structure enables company-wide communication, the exchange of ideas and best working practices, and has become an enabler of change rather than a dictator of change.

While the company has a long-term strategic goal, Cisco has created a framework within which it is able to balance its short term objectives with longer term complicity and complexity.

Rolling out organisational change

Of course, creating a structure for continuous change is only the first step in producing a workable and strategic change management pathway. Cisco has also given it change management team a set of standards to work to.

At the hub of its change management efforts, the organisational change management team is seen as a centre of excellence, with the edict of aligning change management practices across the organisation, educating change leaders, and engendering those standards to all individuals and teams. Cisco calls this its ‘next generation leadership model’.

It has had to learn to deal with internal ‘fuzziness’, and communicate a new culture in which people understand that there will always be procedural and process ambiguity: nothing is ever fully settled in an environment where change is continuous.

The agility of the change management structure allows agility, with decision made at breath-taking speed, while maintaining an order and constancy of approach. It has developed smaller communities of best practice, with feedback given up the line and into the hub.

Selecting your fluid change management team

At the centre of its success is Cisco’s fluidity of change leaders. For every situational need it is able to draw on singular expertise. Every time it does so, it not only empowers new leaders but integrates them into a portfolio management process.

By selecting individual expertise for individual situations, no longer are projects isolate. Rather program life cycles and program size converge as separate communities work together and realise cross functional commonalities.

Moving to a common platform to manage change will help your organisation to achieve the benefits experienced by Cisco:

  • increased competiveness
  • change management process accepted across the whole organisation
  • change managers speaking in a common language
  • ability to influence strategies to get change adopted

All organisations need to change to remain ahead of their competition. The new requirement for continuous change is a difficult concept requiring a new cultural approach.

When executed simply, continuous change is often executed best.

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change management and innovation and leaderership

As you can imagine, I spend a fair amount of time keeping up with changes and challenges faced by industry and business in the fields of change management and innovation. So I’m constantly on the lookout for information and news that may impact behaviour and best practice across organisations.

Here’s a pick of what I’ve been attracted to this week:

Innovation News

To sum up, it says innovation management can help nonprofits in three different ways: – better funding – internal efficiency – unlock growth. Read full article: How Nonprofits are Leveraging Innovation Management Platforms …

New product development exists in just about every company, yet the success rates for developing new products is often abysmal. Learn how adopting a structured innovation management process contributes to successful …

Can the concept of disruptive innovation be applied in a systematc way? In this article the writer/researcher offers a retrospective view of the history of innovation, its incubation, periods of economically revolutionary change …

A real-time dashboard of the cumulative duration-value of projects within process work elements enables smart managers to spot and address bottlenecks as they occur (see Figure 1). The better an organization is at flow management … During this time, he has developed and implemented a number of innovative approaches to creativity, innovation, and productivity in NPD and is a leading expert on product line roadmapping. His clients include a wide range of global …

About the course The Innovator’s Accelerator® concentrated, independent online training program accelerates an individual’s ability to become more innovative. Enabled by a dynamic learning platform, lessons can be …

Change Management

The goal is generic cialis mexican advice to 10mg cialis more turn dynamic, overwhelming change and configuration data into actionable insights. The company states that using its solution allows IT operation managers to …

International Network Configuration and Change Management (NCCM) Market Report-Forecasts to 2019.

When undertaking a change initiative, its success will be dictated by the effectiveness of the change management team you build around requirements.

Knowing the organisations strengths, just like strength based case management, is a means to create stability; it is like a guiding beacon even if the final destination remains unknown and the change emerges over time. …. Sign-up to receive Australia’s #1 Social sector news and jobs services and you’ll get the latest news, jobs, opinion, research, features, and reports from conferences and events around Australia – all in one place, and straight to your inbox.

To help match the new office to employees’ work patterns Canon engaged change management consultants Puzzle Partners. Puzzle conducted a survey of how Canon’s old offices were being used. “They went round the …

Where My Words Have Travelled

publish around the place from time to time. Here’s the latest:

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are the subject of a lot debate in the blogosphere. Will they be a disruptive technology for universities? Will they take over the trainer’s job in corporate organizations?

From a higher education perspective, it’s easy to see the selling point for students

In 1987 Paul O’Neill became the CEO of Alcoa. Taking over the helm of a company usually means making grand statements about finances, about cutting costs, and change the investment priorities. But what O’Neill did at his first investor press conference was a little different.

To improve productivity in organizations you need only get leaders out in the field

The controversial Koch brothers wrote a book called the Science of Success (2007). I don’t recommend you read it as it’s one of those books that successful people write where they think they were successful because of these management techniques, whereas it’s more likely that because they were successful they could try out these management techniques (fads of the day?).

According to the ASTD’s 2013 State of the Industry Report, U.S. organizations spent $164.2 billion on employee learning and development in 2012. The report does a good job of categorizing and classifying expenditure. But what about ROI? How can managers structure training to ensure a positive ROI?

How often have you rolled out a new IT project that failed to deliver the desired benefits? Most projects fail to deliver benefits because of poor change management. Little to no attention is paid to the people side.

From the Vault

Successful people – life’s winners – innovate. They’re not scared to try something new to improve the tried and tested.

Perhaps one of the best known examples of this is Dick Fosbury, who in the 1968 Olympics introduced a brand new style of high jumping and trounced his opposition. Until the 1960’s, the landing surface for high jumpers had been piles of sand or sawdust. Fosbury saw the introduction of a softer landing surface as creating an opportunity to innovate and improve on the standard scissor kick jump technique.

I MENTIONED to a project sponsor the other day that I was about to do a brainstorming workshop, and she laughed at me saying how “1980’s” the word ‘brainstorming’ was. I don’t know what to call it any more, maybe a more sophisticated word is ‘ideation’.


What to do when individuals resist a change initiative

When individuals resist a change initiative

Whenever an organisation takes on a change initiative, there is always the possibility that there will be people who will be resistant to change. For the leader of the change initiative this can be frustrating. When the person resisting change is a key member of your staff, the change manager’s frustration can be replaced by the change initiative’s destruction.

The secret to leading a difficult key member of staff through a change initiative is communication.

The  with a difficult key member may depend upon the stage of the change initiative.

Reasons why some people refuse to change

The way in which you deal with difficult staff during a change initiative will define the success of the change, and mark out your capabilities as an effective change manager.

It may be that the need for change is understood, but some people may disagree with it. They may see the change initiative as adding extra layers of work to a process they currently employ, viewing the change as an unnecessary waste of time. It may be that the new methods and procedures disrupt their current level of comfort, or they are simply difficult personalities.

The change initiative, though, cannot be cancelled because of one person. You’ll need to work them through the change: find out why the resistance to change exists and communicate accordingly.

When the resistor to a change initiative has a rational reason

It’s likely that you’ve selected this person as a key member because of their experience and expertise. They are likely to be respected by their peers, and not usually a trouble maker. When this person resists change, then there may be a rational reason.

Discuss the problem in private, and find out if his resistance is valid. Perhaps the change initiative puts an unworkable amount of extra pressure on the team, or disrupts other procedures and processes. Whatever the reason, afford the difficult key member the time and place to voice the reasons for their behaviour.

If the reason for difficulty is valid, having this discussion will enable you to adapt the change initiative.

When the resistor to a change initiative refuses to break current habits

The changing of habitual routines can make a person anxious and uncomfortable. A person becomes used to their regular routine and change which disrupts this can itself be difficult to cope with.

To these people you need to provide ongoing support and reassurance that the change will bring benefits to them as an individual as well as to the team. Procedures will be streamlined and new processes save time. This might lead to better productivity bonuses or an easier workload. Brining these people on board to help design ongoing training may be the reassuring arm around the shoulder they need.

When the resistor to change is just plain difficult

This is the hardest of resistors to change with which you’ll need to deal. The change initiative needs to be pushed through, and this person will do all in their power to make things difficult for you.

You’ll need to start communications privately. You will already have established that they don’t sit in either of the first two categories, and now will be the time to begin asserting authority. In extreme cases you may be forced to issue an official warning, or even refer the matter up the line, perhaps to someone who has the ability to affect reviews, pay, and bonuses.

If this action is necessary, then think about training another person on the team to be ready to take on the key member’s duties should further disciplinary action be necessary.

The bottom line of dealing with resistance to change

The success of the change initiative ultimately rests with you. Fortunately, plain difficult people are few and far between. Taking a disciplined and rational approach to discovering the reasons why a key member is resistant to a change initiative is likely to uncover resistance below the level of a person who is plain difficult, and handling correctly will create a true champion of change.

Changing someone’s view of change will be as difficult or hard as you make it. Take time to make the extra effort needed to communicate effectively with your key members. You’ll be amazed at the deeper insight you get, not just to the person you are dealing with but to the problems which need to be resolved and the benefits of your change initiative.

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