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Getting behind the org chart - planning for change

Earlier this week, I met up with an existing customer of ours in the City of London.  Having been a user of Sage CRM for many years, they are looking to increase the number of teams that have access to their corporate CRM system.  Which is great news for us both.  They continue to value a single view of the truth- easily accessible by the many departments that deal with their customers and getting that joined-up thinking that feeds into their measures of business performance.

The challenge they find (again) is how to "bring on board" these new teams, to a different way of working.  So often I see that proposed methodologies for organisational change are firmly rooted in systems thinking - i.e. work out the processes, decide the decision gates, work out the measurement indicators, put in the system & tell people to use it.   The reality is that change doesn't happen this way - sure, you need structure around new initiatives but real change is taken on by people having conversations that are not structured by clear objectives, goals and processes.   Failure to deal with the "unwritten ground rules"  - as Steve Simpson of Keystone Management notes - means you cannot adequately understand or drive people’s behaviour.

Fortunately, our customer recognises & has successfully dealt with this apparent contradiction of structure yet no structure.  They see the need for both the "carrot and the stick" in embedding a new way of working.  Or, as I've been taking on as a metaphor of late, the need for senior management to act as a composer ("this is the score we want to hear") and then letting their musicians bring the composition together, using their unique talents.

Over the next few project meetings, we are looking to understand both the key performance measures for the larger team(s) and, perhaps more importantly, the key stakeholders.  The customer's aim is to make sure we identify CRM ambassadors - a task that demands subtle relationship skills, keeping the user community on track while feeding the larger corporate aim of a key corporate information system.