04 May 2007

Change is inevitable. Struggle is optional.

I saw this at the bottom of someone's e-mail message this morning and it started several threads in my brain. We'll see if I can weave those threads into fabric.

The discussion of the last week has been about companies and their un/willingness to assist their employees with managing the amount of change that occurs in the workplace. Thanks to Dorothy, Michael, and George for raising some important issues. Dorothy suggested that an organization's success with change would be enhanced if employees are given a voice about impending change as well as a choice. George questioned whether or not this kind of an approach is feasible or even realistic.

Strangely, I worked on an implementation several years ago (1998-99 time frame) where the employees were given the opportunity to vote on software system selection. It was a dead heat between PeopleSoft and Oracle. The controller cast her vote last and it was for Oracle, which was the system this organization implemented. While some of the human resources employees felt that PeopleSoft would have been a better choice for their department, they accepted the direction toward Oracle and set about to make it work for them.

You might think that the employee voting process would lengthen the decision cycle. It didn't. Information about each system, including excerpts of the RFP responses from each company, important features, and functional gaps were made available to employees in advance of the voting. The length of the decision cycle was close to the average for the particular industry.

I think that the voting had an unexpected benefit; these employees looked forward to learning about the new system! They were a delight to train because they were curious, engaged, and eager for knowledge. Did the implementation of the Oracle Financials and HRMS have some bumps? Of course it did. They all have bumps of one sort or another.

The struggle, however, was very low compared to other implementations on which our team had worked.