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Change Management’s Balancing Act

worthingtonp-cropBy John Worthington

I had some interesting discussions with a client about Change Management the other day. There was considerable focus around the risk matrix; after all, the risk of a change dictates approval flow….change is about managing risk right?

Balancing ActThe change management challenge is about balancing positive risk (value) with negative risk (service interruption), and as always we want to maximize positive risk and minimize negative risk.

From a change management perspective, maximizing positive risk is focused on acceleration and velocity. In order to do this, we need proven repeatable procedures. Building a library of proven change models will not only provide higher quality (via repeatability), but a rich source of information for automation that can further increase velocity (and time to value). Standard changes are an easy and logical place to start building this library.

The focus on minimizing negative risk, and a desire to perfect the risk matrix, can divert attention to the process. Don’t get me wrong, we do want a consistent way to assess risk across all stakeholders, but tuning the risk matrix will not build repeatability into the process and will not by itself reduce risk.

It’s the actions taken by change management practitioners – change managers, CAB Members and change analysts – that can increase the velocity of change while reducing risk. This is accomplished by fine-tuning a library of predefined procedures for known types of changes.

So if the powers that be seek to slow the process down by formally reviewing more and more changes, don’t focus on the risk matrix — at the end of the day the powers that be will decide what needs to be reviewed (think change freeze, major incidents) and it won’t matter what the risk matrix looks like.

The risk matrix is a guide that should direct all staff to do look at how changes can be more effectively modeled. As the library of repeatable changes increased, as automation is enabled, risk can be managed at higher velocities. Start with standard changes and move up from there; the risk matrix is likely to take care of itself.

John Worthington is a VMware transformation consultant and is based in New Jersey. Follow @jMarcusWorthy and@VMwareCloudOps on Twitter.


2 thoughts on “Change Management’s Balancing Act

  1. Ian Pratt

    Great points! Creating repeatable and reproducible change processes is key to the rapid deployment of sufficiently simular changes

  2. Aernoud van de Graaff

    i think change management in most it organizations is all about reducing the negative risk. As a consequence layers upon layers of aprovals have been introduced, slowing down implementation speed.

    And for some changes these layers should be in place, but for most changes less or even no or very limited approvals should be required and standard changes can be pre-appoved. Specially with (internal/external) cloud like changes that are fully automated. Only a budget approval will work, and even that can be pre-approved, e.g. A project getting budget approval for xx funds or resources to provision the neccesary servers and storage to run the project.

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