A Visible Solution Paper
A Strategic, Information-Centric Approach
By Alan Perkins
Vice President, Consulting Services
This paper describes the constancy of
change, effective change management practices, an infrastructure
that facilitates change, and the role of the Chief Executive
Officer in change management.
Copyright © 1997, Visible
The only constant in American enterprises is
change. There are external changes in politics, climate, laws,
markets, competition, and customer desires. There are internal
changes of ownership, products, services, process, technology and
measures of effectiveness. Todays enterprise must be able
to react quickly and correctly to external change, while managing
internal change effectively. Even the most stable enterprise
changes. In fact, not too long ago, a manager was overheard
telling his staff, "If were going maintain the status
quo around here, something has to change!"
External change is usually obvious and has
immediate impact. We often have no choice and must deal with
external change in order to survive, comply with new laws, meet
customer requirements, remain competitive, etc. Everyone in an
enterprise recognizes the necessity for reacting to external
The need for internal change is often less
obvious, unless it is in response to external change, and usually
seems less immediate. This is partially because changes we make
to improve products; services and practices may not have
short-term results. Radical, enterprise-wide change, sometimes
called "culture change," may not achieve all desired
results for years.
Because internal change is not necessarily
forced upon an enterprise by outside factors, and because results
are not immediate, it is usually given less emphasis and priority
than enterprise reactions to external change. This is
unfortunate, because only by carefully managing internal change
can an enterprise uniformly meet the challenges of external
Managing internal change, particularly culture
change, requires three things: management commitment, universal
approval, and appropriate measures and rewards.
Management Commitment In order for
anything to happen in an enterprise, including change, executives
and managers must be consistently committed to making it
happen. Only enterprise leaders can ensure that resources
necessary to effect the change are available. Consistent
commitment means that the change becomes both an enterprise
strategy and an enterprise goal that leaders continuously and
obviously support. The visibility of leadership support is a
primary factor in achieving universal approval for change.
Universal Approval Internal change is
successful only when the people involved approve of the change.
They understand the need for the change. They believe the change
is good for the enterprise and good for them. They agree that the
change being undertaken is the right change. Peter Senge, in his
book The Fifth Discipline, describes the need for
universal approval in order to implement systemic change.
"People want change, they dont
want to be changed."
Measures and Rewards Getting everyone to
want change is difficult. It requires a level and degree of
communication and cooperation not found in most enterprises.
Maintaining universal approval is even more difficult. The best
way to get and maintain universal approval is to ensure that the
process and results of change are measured appropriately and
accurately and communicated enterprise-wide. Good results and
changed behavior must be rewarded. At the same time, unchanged
behavior and poor results should not be rewarded. Employees will
not work toward change if they continue to be rewarded for old
In addition to these three change management
practices, there are two elements of enterprise infrastructure
that are critical to effective change management: a strategic
plan and an information architecture.
Strategic Planning A Process, Not
An enterprises strategic plan provides
the guiding force for internal change and the guidelines for
responding to external change. Through the strategic planning
process, the enterprise defines and documents its purpose, goals,
and objectives, along with strategies for achieving them.
Included in the process is an assessment of external
opportunities and threats as well as an assessment of internal
strengths and weaknesses.
The most useful strategic plans are
multi-dimensional, incorporating the enterprises overall
plan with the subordinate plans of every enterprise element, and
including performance measures for every critical outcome.
To ensure that resources are being expended
wisely, every internal change should be derived either from the
strategies documented in the plan or in response to poor
performance as indicated by enterprise measures of effectiveness.
Further, the enterprise needs to respond only to those external
changes that have a direct impact on achieving its purpose,
goals, and objectives as documented in its strategic plan. All
other external factors can be ignored.
Information Architecture Blueprint
When change is desired or necessary, the
enterprises information architecture provides a means for
determining the impact of the change and a blueprint for speedy
implementation of change. An enterprises information
architecture encompasses data and technology.
Linking an enterprises strategic plan
with its enterprise data architecture, enterprise application
architecture and enterprise technical architecture results in an Enterprise Information
Architecture. A well-documented
architecture is a logical organization of information pertaining
to the following corporate-level, enterprise-wide elements.
- Strategic goals, objectives, and
- Business rules and metrics
- Information requirements
- Application systems
- Relationships between applications and
- Technology infrastructure
Enterprise information architecture also
establishes guidelines, standards, and operational services that
define the enterprises systems development environment.
When an enterprises architecture is so documented, it can
be used to accomplish the following:
- Facilitate change management by linking
strategic requirements to systems that support them and
by linking the business model to application designs
- Enable strategic information to be
consistently and accurately derived from operational data
- Promote data sharing, thus reducing data
redundancy and reducing maintenance costs
- Improve productivity through component
development, management and reuse
- Reduce software development cycle time
For additional information, please see the Visible
Solution, "Enterprise Information Architecture."
The Chief Information Officer in a competitive,
visionary, strategically managed enterprise has a key role in
responding to external change and managing internal change. The
CIO is, of course, also the chief information architect and is
therefore responsible for enterprise information resource
management. Not only is the CIO the steward of one of the
critical enterprise infrastructure elements, the CIO should also
be a key player in the enterprises strategic planning
process. Only the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) has an equally
broad-based view of the activities in the enterprise.
The CIO, as part of the enterprise management
team, helps make decisions concerning what changes to implement.
The CIO also helps sustain approval for those changes. Most
importantly, the CIO is ultimately responsible for translating
enterprise goals, objectives, and performance measures into
Back to Contents.
Visible consultants have experience
helping leaders of commercial and government enterprises improve
their change management practices. Our expertise is developing
the infrastructure to support effective enterprise change
management -- both strategic plans and information architecture.
Back to Contents.
For more information concerning this Visible
Solution please contact:
Visible Systems Corporation
201 Spring Street Lexington MA 02421 USA
Phone: +1-781-778-0200 · Fax +1-781-778-0208
Web Site: http://www.visible.com
Information Engineering Services Pty Ltd
PO Box 246, Hillarys Perth WA 6923 Australia
Phone: +61-8-9402-8300 Fax: +61-8-9402-8322
Web Site: http://www.ies.aust.com/