Both type of changes were needed because on the hard side there was the infrastructure on which Sharepoint had to be implemented and the soft systems changes were needed because the views and the expectations of different groups of stakeholders had to be analyzed. The hard systems changes could be done with proper analyzing and planning, but the soft systems changes required a more participative approach. The hard systems changes lent themselves to be planned and tracked properly where the soft systems changes were very difficult to predict, plan and track. Even without knowing some theories of leading innovation and change, we followed some basic rules which could be related to certain models. A couple of them will be describes in the following paragraphs.
A culture of sharing creates a better environment for successful change initiatives because it brings individuals together and helps relationships form and build. This change concerned the implementation of Sharepoint and the essence of this kind of change is sharing and forming relationships between individuals. This is where the characteristics of the Soft Systems Changes and the Theory O Type of changes are very clear. It was important to put the stakeholders, the users of the system in front of our attention. I have to explain the Theory O Type of Change, which can be related to the Soft Systems Change of Barbara Senior and Joyce Fleming (2006) mentioned earlier.
Another very important part of the model of Kotter (1996) played an important role and that was creating a clear vision and communicating this vision constantly. We combined this with another step of Kotter’s model and that was creating short term wins. Because Sharepoint is such a huge system with in this case a very long implementation time, it was important that some progression could be made visible. Otherwise it would take too long for most people to stay enthusiastic about the process. If a change has a long time span, then the risk of people getting unattached will grow and Kotter (1996) tells us that it can be important to create short term wins in those situations which give the people the feeling that the change, or in this case the Sharepoint implementation, is already a booming success.
With huge changes or this kind of impressive Sharepoint implementations, it is also important to sustain the change, which is the last step of the Hayes (2010) model. The change, this new Sharepoint platform, had to be anchored in the organization to make it part of the culture, to make it an element of ‘how we do things around here’ (Kotter J. P., 1996). This proved to be a difficult step because it was tempting to call it a victory too early in the process. Even without a deep knowledge of Hayes (2010) or Kotter (1996), we knew this was a very important element of the final success.
Constantly we had to remind ourselves to not declare the Sharepoint implementation a success too early in the process. Every member of the leading coalition had to be made aware of this and the same was true for the leaders of the change and the Sharepoint implementation. Even if one or two would declare it a success before it was anchored and sustained in the organization, we could risk total failure. One very important element of the final success was the fact that we defined short term wins and that we declared it a success when the implementation of Sharepoint was realy a part of ‘this is how we do things around here’.
Despite the fact that this could be called a revolutionary change, because it made a huge change in existing structures and brought a fundamental new way of work to the floor, Sharepoint was implemented in an incremental way like the smooth incremental changes of Barbara Senior (2006). This was very interesting. There you had a potential huge radical change on different fronts and because we brought it in pieces and those pieces in incremental loops, it was as if small changes were implemented and those small changes were much more acceptable for groups of people. In the end some of them even didn’t know the overall change was so impressive because they thought it was only a minor change. We fooled them so to speak by letting them think it were small changes while overall it was a combined huge radical and revolutionary change.
From this we learned that it can be helpful to split up huge changes during Sharepoint implementations in smaller ones and communicate those small change as if they are the only changes to be implemented. It makes people less alarmed, less offended because smaller change do have less repellent characteristics than the bigger changes.
Hayes, J. (2010). The theory and Practice of Change Management. Palgrave Macmillan.
Isaksen, S. (2006). Meeting the Innovation Challenge. John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Kotter, J.P., 1996. Leading Change. Harvard Business School Publishing.
Senior, B., & Fleming, J. (2006). Organizational Change (3rd ed.). FT/Prentice Hall.