Facilitating Organizational Change

11/05/2013 14:42

Being responsible for the implementation of PLM in an organization you need a lot of persistence and a long term view to get the change accomplished. This is especially true for organizations in which the planned new practice of collaboration is quite different from the current practice of working in departmental silos (Michael Grieves). Facilitating organizational change is not possible without an encouraging personal vision of each member in the implementation team.

The personal vision of each member is the basis for a shared vision in the team. For managing this size of change strong commitment of everyone, not only compliance is required. Following Peter M. Senge, author of The Fifth Discipline said the following: "people with a strong sense of personal direction can join together to create a powerful synergy toward what 'I/we truly want'" (p.197).

The vision of PLM is often discussed under technical aspects like available software features, interconnectivity, etc. (see Martin Eigner: The Future of PLM, PLM Innovation 2013): a vision, which describes a future business system and its nice to have features. For a personal vision the collaboration aspect comes into focus assuming the availability of a best in class business system. I summarize my personal vision in the following statements:

  1. We work under improved working conditions regarding the availability of product definition data along the complete product lifecycle using integrated business systems to manage them. We get, what we need to perform our work properly: our output is based on clear, concise and valid documentation and we are proud of delivering clear, concise and valid documentation.
  2. The execution of collaboratively negotiated procedures increases the prosperity of our company.
  3. Based on defined procedures we are working in an environment with reasonable resource management allowing to deliver the required documentation.
  4. Making progress in setting up integrated business systems we are supported to establish the new practice.
  5. My vision is the result of a lot of discussions with members of the implementation team in our organization and with people from other companies implementing PLM. It is a shared vision empowering our activities.

For the implementation of the vision the contribution of all stakeholders involved in managing and using product definition data in the organization is required.

We have to treat them as equal in terms of getting the best solution for the company as a whole: all locations and involved departments and all levels of the organization, i.e. workers, team leaders, middle and upper management including C-level management (CEO, CIO, CFO) get the chance to contribute to the collaborative setup of the new practice.

Even then you will not get all conflicts resolved, and may even observe aggressive behavior. (Prof. Dagmar Heinrich reported in her presentation about cultural change on PLM Innovation 2013 about having her bicycle destroyed two times during the implementation of PLM in her former company.) Nobody likes to change, but longs for changes in the behavior of colleagues, of the environment, etc.

In facing conflicts the Nonviolent Communication (NVC) Process Marshall Rosenberg presented helps a lot. Its 4 components are: observations, feelings, needs, and requests.

In the NVC Process you express:

  1. the concrete actions you observe that affect the (shared) vision
  2. how you feel in relation to what you observe
  3. the needs, values, desires, etc. that create your feelings and
  4. the concrete actions you request in order to get the (shared) vision realized

For a more in-depth understanding of the method I recommend strongly to read Rosenberg's book. (Rosenberg, Marshall B.: Nonviolent communication: a language of life, 2nd edition, PuddleDancer Press, Encinitas.)

How do I know we are still on the right track? Mental models, representations of the surrounding world, shape our perception. They help shape behavior and establish an approach to solving problems and doing tasks.

If they exist below the level of our awareness, they can cause problems especially during change processes. Then the gap between our mental models and reality widens, leading to increasingly counterproductive actions (Senge).

Knowing about the mechanism of using mental models in our perception requires constant validation of them in listening to members of the organization on different levels. In trying to understand the current status of the change process we have to adapt our mental models to reality. (In the end the organization decides about the new practice anyhow.)

Facilitating organizational change requires changing of myself. It is easier if I am aware: "It's not about you!"

Topic: Facilitating Organizational Change

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