In the journey to the Cloud, change management strategies are often an afterthought. In our efforts to adopt the Cloud, how we approach and embrace change management at different layers determines our overall success.

Looking for change

The cloud has unlocked the ability for organizations, large and small, to benefit from the scaling and compute capabilities through an ‘as needed’, CAPEX approach rather than a ‘forecasting’, OPEX approach. As our compute needs evolve, we tend to discover updating our day-to-day use of technology becomes a necessity to get ahead. However, In doing this, organizations will run into hurdles at the point where adversity to the change begins to restrict the abilities of the technology advancement. Without a strong change management workflow, longterm delivery strategy, and agile focused mindset, a company will never be able to modernize to the capacity of the technology.

Focusing on the organization

In our fevered dash to buy, build, and manage the technology we promised would be revolutionary. Engaged development teams traditionally spend all their efforts focused on the needs of the tech while no one focuses on the “How” an organization should evolve with these new capabilities. It is not uncommon to lack an understanding of all the changes needed to fully integrate new capabilities into productive workflows. Building a path towards an understanding of how the process is just as important as the new technology when focused on organizational change. A way to look at it is when you move from a car with a manual transmission to one with an automatic transmission. Do you still depress the clutch with each gear shift? The same can be seen within an organization. As you modernize the technology on which you run, should you not also focus on the organizational processes and procedures that you have in place at the same time? To reach this new vision for your value workstreams, change needs to be managed not only at the technical layer, but on operational layers as well.

Addressing the cause

As example, we can look at an organization that is considering a move of their operational compute capabilities to the cloud. This makes sense as we all know the capabilities of Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery supported through cloud compute can elevate the abilities of the business and is a value stream that is understood. An assigned project team can find the skills and set the strategy to apply change at the technology layer. Focus here would be to modernized the platform through efforts such as building a cloud based landing point, automation within the platform, and pipeline capabilities. We begin to observe challenges in the system after the technology work streams have started. As new replaces old we generally don’t see the explosion in productivity that we had hoped for. Why is this?

Keeping with the car analogy, technology modernization is similar to an upgrade to automatic transmission, it is not only the physical transmission (our shift from on premise to public cloud hosted compute) that provides the increase in capability but an update to the overall systems that interact with that new transmission is needed as well. In autos, to gain the full value of change to the transmission, there is a need to modernize the control and feedback processes that interact with the entire car as well. The change from human operated manual gear shifting to an automated transmission unit provides the bridge allowing the capability to input the request of the operator and ensures feedback is provided in an optimized and more streamlined format. In an organization, an example of this is a change in what was once manual approvals for large workflows to progress through each stage of development to smaller, cross functional, and iterative workflows progressing based on automated decision processes.

Integrating new practice into an organization

The goal of modernization here is to adopt new technologies that harness automation, testing, and delivery capabilities that allow for increases in targeted value for their workstreams. For this to happen organizations should look towards new mindsets, systems, and processes that aid in identifying current unknowns and build towards a future based on identified customer value rather than history. To do this you can review your organizational requirements by layers. By moving from the organization towards those of the customer, you see a few key areas you should observe when approaching change. These are good areas to observe when considering sponsorship roadmap development.

  • Organizational Layer: The way the organization understands change and its adaptiveness to feedback and iterative improvements. This is the governance layer defining a framework for change.
  • Operational Layer: Have the right workstreams been identified for change and is there a vision for how the effort will improve the value contained therein? Here we see leadership roles defined and clear vision set in place.
  • Engagement Layer: Has change been communicated to those involved and influenced by the future state? Feedback is also critical at this layer as it keeps all informed and engaged.
  • Team Layer: A vision defined, goals communicated and dedicated time provided to structured team members that will enable and allow change to occur. This is where execution and resistance become realized. Holes in the above layers are identified here as well.
  • Technology Layer: Fear exists where there is no knowledge. Change and adoption require the knowledge and skills present to be integrated into the whole. Technology is part of all now, and understanding the ‘how’, as well as the ‘what’, is critical.

By starting change from the layers we are able to position and keep pace with the progress change in the organization. The early ability to identify workstreams of value and further engage change at each lower layer is one key to the building blocks of a successful effort. Developing a strategy that works with each layer to build ownership is key to the change management process we engage on. A grasp of these core concepts allows for us to create this management strategy that focuses on supporting new technology in building value into the workstreams.

So, after all this, what is your change management strategy and do you think it can stand up at organizational level? How adaptive is your team and where has ownership been created? Are you able to clearly identify and communicate a roadmap and vision that targets value workstreams. Is there a mindset of adaptiveness, agility, and change that will bridge the old with the new when focused towards the modernization of organizational, cultural, and technology?