The seasons alter

Patrick Hurley|Vice president customer advocacy, Thomson Reuters Elite

Buzzwords come and go so frequently we often don’t even recognise their demise. Remember when big data was all the rage? Yeah … me neither. Or how about SaaS ? That seems to have morphed into the cloud … which I’m sure will be a foggy memory before long too. Personally, I’m anxiously awaiting the death of ‘innovation’ – one of the most overused but least understood concepts of recent years.

But there’s one buzzword that has continued – and I predict will continue to continue – to stand the test of time. Living up to the age-old axiom is our good friend ‘change’. As in the only constant is …

No matter how perfect the implementation – on time, on budget, no major issues, tons of efficiencies and new capabilities realised – at best there will always be some residual grumblings along the lines of ‘I hate the new system’

Change management, leading through change, change champion, change ready, organisational change: there are all sorts of variations on the core concept, with job titles, conferences, publications, graduate degrees and entire industry offshoots devoted to change.

“Change is hard,” we are regularly told by the experts..

“It doesn’t matter how good the technology is – if you don’t have the right change management strategy in place,” is something I have told many a client myself.

We utter these change aphorisms all the time. None of them are groundbreaking. Everyone believes them already. But still: Change. Is. Hard.

As Woodrow Wilson allegedly once said: “If you want to make enemies, try to change something.”

I’m in the business of change. 3E, our flagship practice management product, is something most of our clients implement when replacing a legacy system that has been in place for 15, 20, sometimes even more than 25 years. There are always employees at our clients who have been looking at – and using – those same screens for more than 25 years. Do you
think they are remotely excited by the prospect of new screens, new processes, and new ways of doing things? And no matter how perfect the implementation – on time, on budget, no major issues, tons of efficiencies and new capabilities realised – at best there will always be some residual grumblings along the lines of ‘I hate the new system’.

Have any of you ever had to lead or be one of the change champions of an office move? Wow. Talk about bringing out the most primal, least evolved emotions and behaviours that our fine species has to offer, usually buried deep inside.

And yet, time after time, in spite of the fact that we all go through so many different types of changes in both our business and personal lives, we never quite master the next change without some level of trepidation or resistance.

I’m writing this just as the seasons are changing – leaves are turning, days are getting shorter and crisper. Even this most basic, regular and familiar change brings with it those feelings of trepidation (I’m dreading the day when the clocks turn back an hour!) and resistance (I refuse to start wearing my overcoat yet!).

So, what have all these musings led me to conclude? Nothing new, I’m afraid: that would involve some change. I have, however, finally decided what I should get as a tattoo, emblazoned on my chest – and which I will take to my grave: It’s not the technology – it’s the change management!

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