This is very much true for Sharepoint. When successful change with Sharepoint is what we want, then especially dissolving existing patterns of behavior and making new behavior patterns part of the way ‘we do things around here’ are very important elements. Sharepoint means change on all levels. Only when existing behavior is suited to the way Sharepoint works best, then Sharepoint will become the star it can be.
When old fashioned behavior sticks around the workfloor, it will prevent Sharepoint from being handled properly. Old behavior can be contra productive when it forms a wall around Sharepoint and disables its usefulness. The organization which implements Sharepoint must be open minded and well aware on the subject of organizational change. Work processes will become different, the way people do things will be done differently, how people contact each other will change and the exposure of information within the organization will be defined in other ways…to name some.
There are ‘varieties of change’. The first is ‘smooth incremental change’ which is change that evolves slowly in a systematic and predictable way. The second is ‘bumpy incremental change’ which is characterized by periods of relative tranquility punctuated by acceleration in the pace of change. The third is ‘discontinuous change’ which is defined as marked by rapid shifts in strategy, structure or culture or in all three (Senior & Fleming, 2006).
Incremental change is often the easiest change without much noise. This is different for the bumpy change, where more insecurity and noise is produced. Discontinuous change is often painful and goes with many insecure areas. Sharepoint is often part of the last two change types; bumpy and discontinuous. This is strengthened by the fact that the market is demanding different ways of communicating and transparency in information but often don’t exactly dictate how it must be done. Sharepoint fills this gap but it is being done following no steady guidelines on all levels. Added to this is the fact that often the change is not well implemented and communicated within the organization itself and is not part of the strategic focus.
Implementing Sharepoint and not having thought about these things is asking for trouble and failure. Sadly enough this is often the case: implementing sharepoint without a proper change strategy around it. When there is no change strategy, no knowledge about change theories related to implementing different ways of work and when there is not enough academic knowledge combined with the Sharepoint implementation on the tactical and strategic levels of the organization; then failure is almost unavoidable. Because nobody will see it coming and nobody can even formulate properly the reasons of the risks and possible failure when the organizational levels are not evenly presented.
Revolutionary changes tend to be more radical. Revolutionary changes are also known as frame-breaking because they usually make huge changes in existing structures. Transformational change is highly a political process that threatens different interest groups and is characterized by conflict. These changes have a radical character and are discontinuous in nature (Senior & Fleming, 2006).
Sharepoint is not only change. Sharepoint is transformation in revolutionary ways. Let’s face it. Sharepoint means huge changes on all levels and in most existing structures of the organization when implemented properly. If there is no huge change after or during the implementation of Sharepoint, then probably it is not done well enough. Yes, the changes can be done incrementally, but often the way of communication and the work procedures are so drastically different in comparison with the old way of doing things, that the results are just the same: bumpy incremental and discontinuous.
When the organization is huge, then revolutionary changes are almost unavoidable. It sounds bad, but it is good. For example, when a multinational organization loses lots of money because the communication between organizational departments are very bad, slow and totally not transparent; then only with huge changes on these fronts will this organization make a chance to survive in this fast changing business world. This organization can not do this change slow and without pain. Fast, bumpy and revolutionary changes are needed or else the competitors will eat this organization alive and without mercy.
Sharepoint is the way to go in this situation because it offers the modern way of work needed to survive in this fast changing world. But it will only do so when done properly. When knowledge of the needed levels is not around: buy it. Don’t think that you can do it without and blame Sharepoint afterwards. Blame yourself. Change is tough and bumpy, discontinuous and revolutionary changes also. Even dangerous. But with the proper strategy it is doable. Without it is killing yourself.
Reactive and anticipatory changes
Reactive and anticipatory changes are changes that are made in direct response to some external event. Anticipatory changes can occur when organizations believe that change and anticipation of events still to come will generate greater competitive advantage (Dive, 2004). Planned change is a deliberate, intentional change. They take place in the form of improvement projects, such as development of a new product, purchase of new equipment or reorganization of formal structure (Yukl, 2002 and 2006).
These kind of changes often walk hand in hand with Sharepoint. The organization hears about Sharepoint and is aware that many people and organizations start using it. It is sold as the chicken with the golden eggs. But if you don’t know anything about the chicken itself and can’t handle the golden eggs, it will end up in an empty nest with a rotten smell. Reactive and anticipatory change in relation to Sharepoint is fine when you know what you are doing. Just buying the stuff and implementing it without proper (strategic) planning is stupid.
Planned change is better suited for Sharepoint and deliberate intentional implementation of it gives better results. But this planning needs to be done on all relevant levels within the organization and not only inside the IT department and specifically on the infrastructure level. Also the tactical and strategic levels must be included from the start and with the proper attention and energy. Sharepoint is huge and means big changes. The tactical and strategic levels will be included eventually which is unavoidable. You don’t want to meet these levels without properly having informed and instructed them. When you did not include them from the start, don’t be surprised if they will not be willing to help and growl when they see you.
Change is good, change is often needed.
Just be prepared.
Dive, B. (2004). The healthy organization: a revolutionary approach to people and management (Second ed.). London: Kogan Page.
Hayes, J. (2010). The theory and Practice of Change Management (Third ed.). Palgrave Macmillan.
Holbeche, L. (2006). Understanding Change (First ed.). Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.
Senior, B., & Fleming, J. (2006). Organizational Change (3rd ed.). FT/Prentice Hall.
Yukl, G. (2002 and 2006). Leadership in Organizations (5th ed.). Academic Internet Publishers Incorporated.