Organizational Change and Risk at the 2009 PMI Global Congress


I attended the Project Management Institute’s Global Congress this month, in Orlando, Florida. I am particularly interested in Organizational Change Management and Risk Management, so I selected sessions primarily focused on these things. Many of the sessions focused on what I call “voodoo” change management – communications, feelings, and so forth – but not an operational expression of change. Though there was one outstanding and remarkable presentation by an interesting team from the State of Oregon and George Fox University. I think their work provides some very practical and operational insight on how change management should be integrated into both project and outsourcing management.

What the State of Oregon Department of Human Services Process Center of Excellence has done is take a look at all the thinking in organizational change management, codify and examine it, and create a methodology that shines the cold light of operations on the problem of providing concrete actions to bring about effective change – especially when the change is not one that stakeholders will ever like or embrace. Outsourcing presents such a challenge.

I’ve been bothered for years by the lack of completion in most change management methodologies. While it’s clear that changes have to be communicated and winning hearts and minds is important, the hard fact of organizational change is that sometimes it’s hard to like the change regardless of how it’s packaged. So there has to be a more operational expression of change.  A way to ride herd on the outcomes, often over several years, is to ensure that the change really “took.” This takes an organizational bent of mind, a will to see it through, and a strong methodology that supports this kind of institutionalization of change – something that corporations sometimes lack. It’s refreshing for an American to think that a state government would support and nurture such an obvious and valuable approach.

Like so many major advances in project management, this United States Government contribution to the ongoing discussion of project management is published. Go take a look at their review of change management methodologies for an instant primer on change in management thinking, and what is missing: States Of Change: An Inquiry Into The Nature Of Organizational Change.

There’s a lot to mine on this subject. I realized (paradoxically, I suppose)  that innovation could only thrive in an organization where change management was actively practiced – I’ll write about that in the future. I felt that our Service Management & Governance operating model methodology was validated. Outsourcing is the kind of change that challenges organizations; it’s good for the corporate entity, but hard for people. Walking that tightrope has implications for both the human capital of a company, and its bottom line.

About the author

Cynthia brings 25 years of experience helping clients develop their sourcing governance and service management design. Having worked with more than 50 organizations to improve business management and service management processes in both single-provider and multi-provider environments, Cynthia has become a recognized expert in sourcing governance, vendor and contract management. She currently serves as the architect for ISG’s service methodology and global integrator of its products and services. Cynthia works to leverage ISG’s accumulated intellectual property resources to help enterprises create effective transformation and governance capability, and maintains a continuing role in the Strategy and Organizational Change Enablement practice.