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How do you score on your IT change management report card?

Over the past week, IT change management popped up a lot in my interviews with consultants, CIOs and IT managers. No matter what the topic of the discussion was (from new software deployments to consolidated business processes), every conversation led to the importance of IT change management and the CIO’s overall role in successfully executing it.

I was reminded of a blog post I read in the Harvard Business Review on Obama’s change management report card. The post looked at how well the Obama administration managed its change agenda — stacking up the results against four elements:

  • Make the case for change.
  • Create a vision of what will be different.
  • Mobilize commitment to change.
  • Generate early successes that build momentum and learning.

Despite the administration’s best intentions, the author still found room for improvement in its execution.

IT executives are no strangers to the challenges of successful change management. One CIO I spoke with last year said that even after he got executive buy-in for his business process management tool implementation, it was a struggle maintaining user support and momentum.

Good leaders understand that change can’t be forced. Even if the change aims to solve a problem and will bring along some benefits with it, don’t expect that to be enough to overcome any pushback or inspire cooperation — many people resist change and want to hold on to their personal agendas.

When it comes to IT change management, the CIO’s role is to communicate a vision and consistently promote wide acceptance and user adoption. That’s certainly not an easy job: Doing it effectively requires a combination of soft skills and a concrete strategy. Effective change management requires planning, and it’s crucial to understand what you’re doing and why.

If you’re going to manage change — whether organizational or specifically IT — it’s not enough to be bold. You must be practical in bringing about change. What can you do right now to ensure that your initiatives live to see the light of day?

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