As I think about it, the title is probably misleading, because being a Technology Manager with change-agent responsibility is not the same as being a Technology Change Agent.
In my particular case, I’m not looking to change the technology, necessarily. In fact, I’m pretty happy with the basic technology infrastructure, at least in terms of product selection. What does need to be changed are the processes and procedures that surround the technology, or control how and when and why it is used. This is what usually needs to happen first.
Many people make the mistake of choosing the tool and then designing processes that will support the tool’s use within their environment, or designing processes that are dependent on the tools selected. To be sure, there will be *some* process impact based on your tool/technology selection, but there should always be an underlying process upon which the tool is overlaid. If it’s done in the wrong order, then any change to your tools will prove a major disruption to your operations, as this will create gaps in your process.
The most difficult part of being a change agent is the people. Big surprise. People don’t like change. Studies have been made which indicate that even when change is clearly beneficial to the specific people involved, they will favor the current way of doing things over the unfamiliar, and so the process of introducing change and getting it to stick so that it becomes the new way of doing things, is rather involved.
Even more exciting is the realization that there is only so much change that can be effected at any one time. Try to change too much at once, and there will be explicit and determined rebellion. Attempt too little change, and no real improvements are gained, or it is too easy to slip back to the old way of doing things. Thus, change requires a delicate balance that is very situation specific. And it only gets more complicated when you use new technology to support or implement the change.
Despite — or perhaps because of — all this, I thoroughly enjoy being a change agent. It’s not a perfect existence, of course. On occasion, it can generate a whole lot of animosity and the perception that you care trying to exert control against others that is unwarranted. In fact, you need to ensure, that as you implement any change initiative, that you specifically manage the approach and communication so that this negative perception is not cultivated to any major degree, or your initiative will be sabotaged.
Effective implementation of change requires support of your senior management, as well as support of your local team or project members. This involves a great deal of communication in a variety of ways, since everyone doesn’t process information in the same manner. Some folks will need written, reinforced by verbal, other will need just the opposite, while some will do just fine with one or the other mechanism. Don’t forget to factor in group vs individual communication as well, since these are critical factors as well.
Finally, ensure that whatever technology is involved in the change initiative is up to the task. Glitches in integration are often blamed for the failure of change projects, but they are typically just a convenient scapegoat. However, to the extent that you can control technical issues, you give yourself a better chance by minimizing the potential complaints and arguments against change…