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Surviving Change: 12 Organisation Transformation Principles to Help You Cope

Craig SavageBy Craig Savage:

Change Organisation TransformationIn my role as an Operations Transformation Architect, I get the privilege of working with many different organisations in many different markets and geographies, and as our team are closely knit, we share a lot of knowledge and experience amongst ourselves and globally after each engagement we undertake. What follows are some of the key principles that we believe can and should be applied across all the large IT organisation transformation projects we see.

  1. Understand that transformation is EXPENSIVE – in terms of time, money and emotional energy.
    1. Time – any cultural change will take time, traditions need to be re-made, new balance created (many times) and new roles will take time to settle.
    2. Money – your people will need to gain new skills and competencies; you will also need to reflect on your compensation model.
    3. Emotional energy – Some people thrive on change, others find it very hard work so being aware of how the process is affecting your people and making sure you keep everyone is engaged is crucial.
  2. Realize that every transformation journey is different – there is no “one size fits all” as every company has a different culture and a different diversity in their people, as well as a uniquely evolved process framework to take into account. That said, there are a lot of common elements, that if treated similarly to architectural building blocks, can be re-used
  3. Culture change must be a primary priority and must be led top down. Realistically assess your current culture before beginning – decide what to keep, what needs to be transformed and what will have to be scrapped. Get outside help!
  4. There is a great deal of value in structuring the programme effectively – it really needs to be about constant, small and iterative changes that drive towards a larger goal. One huge project with fixed milestones generally runs into issues, whereas a programme with a clearly defined end state, with multiple smaller, short projects or a more Agile-esk sprint structure will deliver earlier realised outcomes at lower cost.
  5. You will need to change the way you recognise and reward your people – people management and the skills of acquiring and retaining the right people will become increasingly valuable. Keep the management structure focused on performance, development and reward management, managers should be mentors and coaches. Doing this allows for people to hold different roles in different teams without the artificial tribal boundaries that tend to arise in the older models.
  6. Be transparent about the changes taking place – people will be uncertain anyway, and we have seen countless times how destructive rumours can be, whereas every time we have seen openness and clear communication we have seen a far easier transformation journey. Be mindful that local laws, unions, etc. can often inhibit this, so sometimes you will need to be creative in order to keep your people informed and engaged without exposing your company to additional risk.
  7. You will likely need to increase headcount while you transform, unless your current team are grossly under utilised or your current process model is very inefficient. Get help understanding when and how to flex your teams.
  8. Encourage innovation, value it highly and find ways to make it valuable to yourself and your teams. Encourage people to hold multiple roles, increasing the skills and capability diversity and capacity across your team.
  9. Identify and work with your resistance fighters – they may have a valid concern and they definitely have passion, find a way to make them part of the change.
  10. This may sound terribly obvious – keep your current environment running! Alienating your business by delivering bad (or worse) service now will not help.
  11. Understand you are no longer the sole provider of IT for your organisation, no matter how much may seem to be true, your business will already be taking some IT services from other providers. Work towards becoming the broker of these services and being your organisation’s preferred IT provider.
  12. Technology can only effectively transform an operation when the people that operate it and the processes that they carry out are able to take full advantage of that technology. In our experience, implementing technology and expecting the people and process change to take place organically fails almost every time.

With your people heading in the direction of the new and clearly defined way of working, and your processes being re-written and optimised to deliver on that new vision, your organisation will have started off well.

It’s important to get outside help with this process.  This major change requires someone impartial with the skills and experience to advise you on what is working, what could be done better, what is coming up next and to give you ways they’ve seen other organisations overcome those new challenges.  To leverage our experience, contact your local VMware representative to engage with VMware Advisory and Operations Transformation services.

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Craig Savage is a VMware Operations Transformation Architect and is based in the UK. You can follow @craig_savage on Twitter.

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.

 

When to Engage Your Organization in Their Cloud Journey

By Yohanna Emkies

Yohanna-cropThe most common question I hear from my customers is: “What’s going to happen to me (read: my organization) if we introduce the cloud?”  Closely followed by:

“How are we going to begin the planning process…?” These are fair questions, which have to be discussed and worked out.

A question that is often underestimated, although it’s no less important than “what” and the “how” is “when.” When is the right time to tackle operational readiness and organizational questions?

I notice two types of customers when it comes to addressing operational and organizational-related topics. Many simply omit or keep postponing the subject, until they are in the midst of cloud technical go-lives. At some point they realize that they need to cover a number of basics in order to move on and are forced to rely on improvisation. I call them the “late awakeners.”

Others—“early birds” keen to plan for the change—will come up with good questions very early on, but expect all answers to be concrete, before they even start their cloud journey. Here are my observations on each type:

1. Let’s start with the late awakeners.
Quite naturally, the customers I’m working with tend to focus on the technical aspects of the software-defined data center (SDDC), deploying all their resources, putting all the other things on hold, working hard for the technical go-live to succeed, until…

“Hold on a minute, who will take care of the operational tasks once the service is deployed? What is the incident management process? How are we going to measure our service levels? What if adoption is too rapid? And what if we don’t get enough adoption?”

In such cases, critical questions are raised very late in the process, when resources are already under pressure from heavy workloads and increasing uncertainty. These customers end up calling for our support urgently but at the same time find themselves unable to free up resources and attention to address the transformation. And when they do, they fail to look at the big picture, getting caught up in very short-term questions instead of defining services or processes properly.

Doing a first tour in these organizations and mapping the gaps, we may discover entire subjects, which have been left aside, because they are too complex to be addressed on the fly. But even worse, some subjects have already been treated because they were critical… but not treated consciously nor fully. The teams may feel that they don’t have time for these questions, think that it’s taking focus from the “important stuff,” but in reality that’s mostly because they are not aware that they are ALREADY spending a lot of time on these same questions, except they don’t focus their effort on it.

That results not only in poor awareness and maturity at day 1, but also in a low capacity to grow this maturity over time because no framework has been put in place.

Putting things back on track may eventually take more time and focus than if they had been addressed properly in the first place. But it is still feasible.

Clearly, it is an IT senior manager’s role to provide strategic direction, while project managers must include these important work streams in their planning from the start. Ultimately, it’s all part of one holistic project.

2. The early birds are also a tough catch.
From accompanying many organizations in different types of transformations, I cannot advocate loudly enough the need to encourage planning and designing before doing. Being mature in terms of the “what” before running to the “how” is undoubtedly the right approach.

A key lesson learnt is that in order to reorganize successfully for the cloud you have to accept some level of uncertainty while you are making your journey.

Some organizations get stuck upfront with one recurring question: “What will our future organization look like?” Relax.

First no pre-set organization design, even roughly customized to your needs, should be taken for granted. Secondly, no design—even accurate—will ever bring the move about. It’s the people that support the organization who are the critical success factor.

Don’t get me wrong, giving insight, best practices, and direction will definitely help the management in envisioning the future organization, which is essential, but at the same time, an organization is a lively thing by definition. There is also a psychological impact. When you start raising words like “people” and “organization,” concern and fear about change come with.

Sometimes it is even trickier because some organizations are already—or still—in the midst of other transformations started a few years back and lingering. In that case, the impression of “yet another change” may be perceived negatively by the core team and may put them in a situation of stress and stop them from moving forward. What if your team has just finished redesigning and implementing incident management processes, only to realize that they have to do it again to adapt to the cloud?

It will take time for the organization to mature. Embracing the cloud is a big change, but no drastic overnight revolution will take you there. Moving to the cloud is not “yet another re-org” but an ongoing, spreading move, which relies on existing assets, and it’s here to last.

Your organization will evolve as you grow, your skills will improve as your service portfolio and cloud adoption increases. And this will happen organically as long as you put the right foundations in place: the right people, the right processes, the right metrics…and the right mindset.

The right balance to the “when” is somewhere in between the two behaviors of late awakeners and early adopters. Here are some of the most important best practices that I share with my customers:

  1. Gain and maintain the full commitment of senior management sponsors who will support your vision and guarantee focus all along the journey.
  2. Plan your effort and get help: dealing with operational readiness and with technical readiness should be one holistic project, and for the most part, it involves the same people. The project has to integrate both streams together from the start and wisely split effort among the teams to avoid bottlenecks, rework, and wastage.
  3. Opt for an iterative approach: be strategic and pragmatic. Designing as much as you can while you start implementing your cloud, and then refining as you go, will provide a more agile approach and guarantee you reach your goals more efficiently.
  4. Practice full awareness: create a common language on the project, hit important communication milestones, and reward intermediary achievements, so people feel they contribute and see the progress. It is key that your cloud project will be seen positively in the organization and that the people involved in it convey a certain positive image.
  5. Engage your people, engage your people, and engage your people.

As is often said, timing is everything. When dealing with people and their capacity to change, it’s even more critical to find a balance between building momentum and keeping the distance. Your teams will equally need to embrace the vision, feel the success, and at some point also breathe…and when you empower them efficiently across the process you will have the best configuration for success.

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Yohanna Emkies is an operations architect in the VMware Operations Transformation Services global practice and is based in Tel Aviv, Israel.

7 Tips on Leveraging a Change Agent Program to Boost Cloud Adoption

By Pierre Moncassin

Pierre Moncassin-cropIn nearly every other discussion I have with customers about cloud adoption, I hear mention of their challenge with “mindset change.” That challenge is often faced on both sides of the consumer/provider equation, as users (IT consumers) and operators (internal providers) need to change their approaches in order to define, operate, and consume cloud services efficiently.

These same organizations are fully aware that tackling mindset change is essential. The question is: How to go about it with often (typically always) restricted resources and funds?

Changing mindsets for cloud adoption takes more than technical training
One option is to invest in a formal change management consultancy project. Whilst such programs certainly deliver value (and many first-tier consultancies offer such services), they also require a substantial investment both in terms of expenditure and bandwidth of your internal resources.

The next option (and often the default option) boils down to education—typically a mix of functional training for users, and technical training for operators. Without a doubt, training brings valuable knowledge; however it does not always lead to changes in behavior.

Here’s where I can provide you with some useful guidance with lessons from a “change agent” program I was involved with at VMware. This program was designed to build internal awareness and disseminate expertise within a fast-developing global practice. Each of these principles below can be generalized to your broader cloud adoption initiative:

  1. Recruit early enthusiasts—preferably volunteers who want to be ahead of the curve.
  2. Make it personal—recognize individual contributions who are making an impact. Encourage participants to share information, and network with their counterparts in other locations.
  3. Mix structured, semi-structured, and informal communication—formal (meetings, webinars), semi-structured (brainstorming), and informal (social events, ad hoc discussions).
  4. Make the most of social media—great for facilitating free-flowing communication across dispersed team members.
  5. Work with existing structures and processes—no need to re-invent the wheel—our “change agents” are encouraged to use existing internal training programs—often they will be early adopters and provide valuable feedback on how to improve the training so others will benefit.
  6. Train the trainer—or more accurately, train the evangelist. Each individual is encouraged in turn to evangelize within their own team.
  7. Recruit across a diverse range of experience, seniority, and skills—the more diverse the participants, the broader the adoption and reach of the program across the user base. Also the varied experience brings valuable knowledge and feedback into the program.

Results
Within eight months, this unique program has helped VMware’s practice develop a community of more than 100 change agents in over 20 countries! Change agents have contributed to shape and refine the structured training programs in place, and continue to be actively involved in curriculum development.

Whether you are currently struggling with cloud adoption issues or anticipating them with future cloud initiative, I encourage you to try such a program as I’ve described above, and begin to apply these principles. I’d be interested in hearing about your experiences.

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Pierre Moncassin is an Operations Architect with the VMware Operations Transformation global practice and is currently on long-term assignment in Asia-Pacific. Follow @VMwareCloudOps on Twitter for future updates.

What Metrics Should Be Measured for Change Management?

By Kai Holthaus

kai_holthaus-cropThat, of course, depends (favorite answer of consultants everywhere…). As an IT executive, start by asking yourself what you want to achieve. Once you select a critical success factor (CSF), key performance indicator (KPI) or associated metrics and start to report on those metrics, you will see two types of behavior within your IT organization.

Most of your employees will want to be good team players, and they will work to meet the desirable metrics (and avoid undesirable ones). For example, if you start reporting on the number of changes implemented without proper authorization (which could be discovered through configuration audits), and you start disciplining staff for implementing changes without authorization, you will see the number of unauthorized changes go down (in most cases). However, you will also find that some staff will try to game the system by implementing changes without proper authorization, then making it look as if (in your tracking system) they’d had the authorization.

Also keep in mind, that metrics can have unintended consequences. Sticking with the example of tracking (and trying to reduce) the number of unauthorized changes, you may be surprised to see the backlog of changes waiting to be approved grow, because your approval process was not yet ready to handle all the change that was going on in your environment. So, it’s a good practice to be prepared to adjust your metrics accordingly. This also applies to metrics that have been in place for a while. If you have driven the number of authorized changes to zero, and have held it there for the last 12 months, you may want to consider adjusting your focus to other issues (but don’t lose sight completely…unauthorized changes can quickly creep back in).

Finally, make sure that you can actually measure the things you need to measure to report on CSFs and KPIs. Setting a goal of no unauthorized changes is laudable but will remain a goal until you have found a way to detect unauthorized changes.

To conclude, here are some examples of KPIs to consider for your change management process:
kai graphic

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Kai Holthaus is a transformation consultant with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services and is based in Oregon.

How to Avoid 5 Common Mistakes When Implementing an SDDC Solution

By Jose Alamo

Jose alamo-cropImplementing a software-defined data center (SDDC) is much more than implementing or installing a set of technology — an SDDC solution requires clear changes to the organization vision, policies, processes, operations, and organization readiness. Today’s CIO needs to spend a good amount of time understanding the business needs, the IT organization’s culture, and how to establish the vision and strategy that will guide the organization to make the adjustments required to meet the needs of the business.

The software-defined data center is an open architecture that impacts the way IT operates today. And as such, the IT organization needs to create a plan that will utilize the investments in people, process, and technology already made to deliver both legacy and new applications while meeting vital IT responsibilities. Below is a list of five common mistakes that I’ve come across working with organizations that are implementing SDDC solutions, and my recommendations on how avoid their adverse impacts:

1. Failure to develop the vision and strategy—including the technology, process, and people aspects
Many times organizations implement solutions without setting the right expectation and a clear direction for the program. The CIO must use all the resources available within the IT organization to create a vision and strategy, and in some cases it is necessary to bring in external resources that have experience in the subject. The vision and strategy must align with the business needs, and it should identify the different areas that must be analyzed to ensure a successful adoption of an SDDC solution.

In my experience working with clients, it is imperative that as part of the planning a full assessment is conducted, and it must include the areas of people, process, and technology. A SWOT analysis should also be completed to fully understand the organization’s strengths,  weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Armed with this insight, the CIO and IT team will be able to express the direction that must be taken to be successful, including the changes required across people, process, and technology.

Failing to complete this step will add complexity and lack of clarity for those who will be responsible for implementing the solution.

2. Limited time spent reviewing and understanding the current policies
There are often many policies within the IT organization that can prevent moving forward with the implementation of SDDC solutions. In such cases, the organization needs to have an in-depth review of the current policies governing the business and IT day-to-day operations. The IT team also needs to ensure it devotes a significant amount of time with the company’s security and compliance team to understand their concerns and what measures need to be taken to make the necessary adjustments to support the implementation of the solutions. For example, the IT organization needs to look at its change policies; some older policies could prevent the deployment of process automation that is key to the SDDC solution. When these issues are identified from the beginning, IT can start the negotiation with the lines of business to either change its policies or create workarounds that will allow the solution to provide the expected value.

Performing these activities at the beginning of the project will allow IT leadership to make smart choices and avoid delays or workarounds when deploying future SDDC solutions.

3. Lack of maturity around the IT organization’s service management processes
The software-defined data center redefines IT infrastructure and enables the IT organization to combine technology and a new way of operating to become more service-oriented and more focused on business value. To support this transformation, mature service management processes need to be established.

After the assessment of current processes, the IT organization will be able to determine which process will require a higher level of maturity, which process will need to be adapted to the SDDC environment, and which processes are missing and will need to be established in order to support the new environment.

Special attention will be required for the following processes:  financial management, demand management, service catalog management, service level management, capacity management, change management, configuration management, event management, request fulfillment, and continuous service improvement.

Ensure ownership is identify for each process, with KPIs and measurable metrics established—and keep the IT team involved as new processes are developed.

4. Managing the new solution as a retrofit within the current environment
Many IT organizations will embrace a new technology and/or solution only to attempt to retrofit it into their current operational model. This is typically a major mistake, especically if the organization is expecting better efficiency, more flexibility, lower cost to operate, transparency, and tighter compliance as potential benefits from an SDDC.

Organizations must assess their current requirements and determine if they will be required for the new solutions. Most processes, roles, audit controls, reports, and policies are in place to support the current/legacy environment, and each must be assessed to determine its purpose and value to the business, and to determine whether it is required for the new solution.

IT leadership should ask themselves: If the new solution is going to be retrofitted into the current operational model, then why do we need a new solution?  What business problems are we going to resolve if we don’t change the way we operate?

My recommendation to my clients is to start lean, minimize the red tape, reduce complex processes, automate as much as possible, clearly identify new roles, implement basic reporting, and establish strict change policies. The IT organization needs to commit to minimize the number of changes to the new solution to ensure only changes that are truly required get implemented.

5. No assessment of the IT organization’s capabilities and no plan to fill the skill set gaps
The most important resource to the IT organization is its people. IT management can implement the greatest technologies, but their organizations will not be successful if their people are not trained and empowered to operate, maintain, and enhance the new solution.

The IT organization needs to first assess current skill sets. Then work with internal resources and/or vendors to determine how the organization needs to evolve in order to achieve its desired state. Once that gap has been identified, the IT management team can develop an enablement plan to begin to bridge the gap. Enablement plans typically include formal “train the trainer” models to cascade knowledge within the organization, as well as shadowing vendors for organizational insight and guidance along with knowledge transfer sessions to develop self-sufficiency. In some cases it may be necessary to bring in external resources to augment the IT team’s expertise.

In conclusion, implementing a software-defined data center solution will require a new approach to implementing processes, technologies, skill sets, and even IT organizational structures. I hope these practical tips on how to avoid common mistakes will help guide your successful SDDC solution implementations.

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Jose Alamo is a senior transformation consultant with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services and is based in Florida. Follow Jose on Twitter @alamo_jose  or connect on LinkedIn.