Sunday, 2 August 2015

How Sensitization Program helps in Organizational Change Management for major ICT Initiatives?

ICT (Information and Communications Technology) driven technology initiatives bring changes to an organization that are accelerating and transformative. As a result, major ICT initiatives undertaken by organizational leadership are usually supplemented by Capacity Building and Change Management exercise (CB & CM). The objectives of such an exercise are (a) enhancing skills of the employees (so that they may be able to work with newly installed ICT systems) and (b) making the organization adapt to the changes (different type of changes like changes in organizational processes, in organizational response time or in organizational communications).

Many of the ICT initiatives fail to meet the intended objectives due to failure of CB & CM exercise to ensure adaption of new way of doing things. It is observed that this happens more often with the implementations of e-Governance initiatives. Now, the question is how to make CB & CM much more effective? How to maximize the likelihood for success of CB & CM schemes? These are a couple of questions, which are found difficult to be addressed by organizational leaders and ICT project planners. It is true that there are no straight forward answer to these questions. Most of the time situational factors, context of initiatives, organizational dynamics and interests of stakeholders need to be taken into consideration for design of a suitable CB & CM scheme.   

In my opinion, organizational transformation may become easier, if the organization itself could be made to own the transformation. I have learned through my experience (in different roles technical, managerial and consulting in ICT sector) that no external agency (Consulting Agency / Training Institutes / ICT System Integrators / other such agencies) could do justice to CB & CM, unless an organization itself starts believing in the benefits of the change (brought about through the implementation of the project) and starts to prepare itself to embrace change. To prepare organizations to own the change, a sensitization program conducted before the start of the project is usually found to be helpful.

Initiating a systematic sensitization program right since design of the project could lead to early engagement of stakeholders with the dynamics of change, the project eventually proposes to introduce in due course of time. Early involvement of stakeholders leads to proper addressing of their valid apprehensions by the organizational leadership and/or by the change agents within and outside the organizations. Gradually, throughout the implementation of the project, as the changes become clearer through progressive elaboration, the stakeholders get curious to know more about the true nature of changes, they prepare their minds for upcoming changes and they try to adapt to these changes. The CB & CM schemes are most effective, when they are tuned to support the stakeholders at the time they have begun to themselves adapt to changes. These schemes are the best accelerators to changing organizations rather than inducers of change to the organizations.

Changes are inevitable, but a sensible way to transit through changes with consensus of stakeholders is a hallmark of credible organizations. Top executives must advocate for organizational benefits of slow, sustainable and participative change management with the governing body (Governing Board / Council) of the organization.      

However, the bigger question is how to design sensitization program? The answer is not simple, but I will try to highlight some points as per my understanding on the matter. In my opinion, usually organizations are made to follow path of transformation by either (a) a push from higher management (leadership), or (b) a pull from customers (citizens / beneficiaries for government organizations). And, usually the change is resisted either (c) by employees (internal resistance) or (d) by external agencies / groups / organizations having stake in the organization. Designers of sensitization program must try to understand the four factors mentioned above to minute detail. They should try to come up with possible causes of internal and external resistance. A comprehensive work to chart down the hidden insecurities and apprehensions of these groups and to find a suitable way to address the issues must be carried out with honesty and sincerity. At the same time, the designers of sensitization program must also contemplate all the possible benefits for organizational leadership and for beneficiaries (customers or general public), which are expected to come through the implementation of the project. The group of people designing the sensitization program must also plan for the best possible ways for conveying the intended message to respective stakeholders in clear and concise but interactive and participative way. Lastly, the sensitization program must have a metric based monitoring and control mechanism. The metric system should also include indicators to measure the effect of sensitization. With all the above mentioned consideration a comprehensive sensitization program should be planned and scheduled before start of the project.

A proper sensitization not only helps in making the project to meet its objectives, it also helps in maximizing the outcome of the project in the interest of organization and in making an organization itself take a lead in the process of transformation.


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