Change Management Tag

Company X went through a re-org. It wasn’t designed to be personal; it was designed to be good for the business.

 

The change…needed to happen.

A few roles had become irrelevant due to market shifts. Operations were overly complex and overlooked. Two departments existed for good business purposes but were so siloed that work in one department was redundant and at times even counterproductive to work in the other department.

The change…was well-designed.

Irrelevant roles were being eradicated, and individuals who held those roles were being transitioned to newly created positions intended to address modern market demands. One of these roles was specifically designated to resolve operational inefficiencies that had been unmanaged for years.

More advanced technology was being implemented to increase visibility, efficiency, and organization-wide collaboration. Moreover, the technology would make possible the data-driven insights the organization needed to monitor the effectiveness of changes being made and to enable more timely decision-making moving forward.

The change…was well-managed from a project planning standpoint.

A series of agile project plans were created across various departments, and seasoned project managers were charged with delivering them. Milestones were mapped out and aligned with the re-org project objectives. The timeline was realistic, and the budget wasn’t an issue. They were on the lookout for legitimate risks, including business-as-usual demands that tend to distract from project completion if not intentionally managed.

The change…ended up a total flop.

It took two years longer than planned. There were enormous lost costs and an unmeasurable amount of missed business development opportunities. Organizational culture took a nosedive.

Although leadership took great care to re-organize with ample training and without layoffs, there was substantial turnover. Critical communications, engagement, and customized-training were overlooked so employees left out of fear they were going to be left behind. Those who stayed unexpectedly lost their colleagues and friends and, with that, they lost trust.

After so much turnover, most of the workforce was replaced with less seasoned hires, which is great when you need innovation and ambition but creates an imbalanced and skewed environment without diverse perspectives and experiences. To make matters worse, the “long-timers” wanted nothing to do with the newcomers and the technology they seemed to embrace; It became a workforce divided.

 

The project wasn’t designed to be personal, but it should have been.

People take things personally; It’s what we do. People are at the heart of any change initiative, and if their personal experiences aren’t taken to heart, then they won’t take to the change. So how do you design a change initiative around the personal matters?

 

Conduct a stakeholder analysis and empathy mapping.

Who will be impacted? How will it change what they think, feel, and do at the start, middle, and end of the change process?

Communicate with all stakeholders.

This goes way beyond leadership. Talk to everyone who will be impacted; Talk to them early and often. Tell them the vision – including ways it will be hard as much as it will benefit the business and their day-to-day. Get people involved at all levels of the organization. Invite them to take as much ownership of the change as you have. Make it not only the organization’s change but their change, too. Ask them to envision what the change will look like along the way, and empower them to spread the word.

Prepare them for change.

Map out the change and make sure everyone understands the plan. Give stakeholders the time, financial, and support resources they need to understand why and how they need to change the way they work. Give them ample opportunities to practice their changing behaviors.

Encourage them to share feedback.

Make the feedback process easy. Create opportunities for them to talk to leadership and each other about what’s working, what’s not working, and ways they can overcome barriers to change.

Perhaps most important – listen and respond – to their excitement, fear, frustration, and accomplishments. If they point out sources of resistance to the change (e.g., particular people, processes, time/ budget constraints, morale), make a mission out of understanding the resistance and finding ways through it. If they take even the smallest step toward envisioned change, celebrate and reinforce them to carry on.

Don’t try to convince anyone it’s not personal, or that it’s “just business.” Show them that you take personally the change and the impacts on them. Remember that them taking their jobs personally is the very thing that got them to work hard in the old way of doing things; help them find ways to work just as hard at changing.

LeapPoint takes change personally.

Whether it’s digital or organizational transformations, LeapPoint integrates change management into all customer roadmaps. By drawing from the psychology of human and organizational behavior, we ensure customers hone in on the personal impacts of projects that can help or hinder strategic objectives, depending on how they’re addressed. We’re committed to taking change initiatives personally so that we can all take care of the business.

Learn more about our People & Change services today: https://leappoint.com/people-and-change/

 

Marketing has dramatically evolved in the last 20 years. The rise of digital marketing and the exponential growth in marketing technology solutions are just a couple of things that have brought a new level of complexity—and power—into the hands of marketers. But, as the saying goes, “With more power comes more responsibility.”

Chief marketing officers and their teams are facing greater expectations to demonstrate results across their organization. Marketing investments are under continued scrutiny and organizations are being tasked to perform at higher levels with the same or fewer resources. The bottom line:  today, marketing organizations must demonstrate steadily increasing ROI while achieving higher levels of innovation, and team and client engagement.

So what?

 

Marketing organizations need to bring their A-Game. They must take steps to evolve their stack, processes, and strategy to keep ahead of the curve – and the competition. Wherever you are in your digital transformation, you should ask yourself:

  • Can you demonstrate how your marketing organization is aligned to the company’s strategy and driving real, measurable value for the enterprise?
  • Do you have the means to communicate full cost and ROI transparency to the CMO and business lines, and drive informed marketing decisions?

 

If you’re not confidently answering “yes” to these questions, here are the six steps you can take to build and bring your marketing A-Game:

 

1. Thoughtfully create your marketing stack

The number of marketing platforms has grown at an exponential rate, and it can be hard to know what the right strategy and tools are for your organization. Assess your current stack with these questions:

  • Can you qualify the value you get from each of your platforms and tools?
  • Are there gaps you can identify within your existing stack?
  • Could you possibly consolidate the number of tools you are using?

 

2. Build integrations

Like most companies, you likely have multiple systems of record. But it’s not effective to plan in one system, execute work in another, and host assets and deploy in others. Your holistic marketing story and accurate ROI reporting are critically important. Power your organization’s collaboration with integrations that seamlessly connect your stack to unlock and unify the data that enables these stories.

 

3. Organize your data & insights

Your stack is creating ever more data to manage. But the problem isn’t the data itself; it’s how to organize it in a way that leads to actionable insights. Define a best-fit data strategy for your stack. And with the right visualizations, your organization will be empowered with the ideas to make smarter marketing, business, and operational decisions.

 

4. Examine your existing processes – and do it often

Organizations and your marketing needs will continually evolve. Being comfortable may lead to a miss on an important technological advance that your competitors are employing.

  • Review your processes regularly to re-engineer and optimize them and to ensure they’re as efficient as possible.
  • Refine your organizational roles to maximize new capabilities.
  • Look into custom development options to create new automation opportunities within your organization.

 

5. Make change personal

Tools are only effective if you know how to use them and know why you’re using them. Equip your team with proven approaches and tools that affect lasting change. Discover methods that will influence behavior and allow your staff to understand the value of new capabilities. By encouraging your team to embrace change, you’ll drive operational excellence and create a model for the rest of the enterprise to follow.

 

6. Recruit an expert or find a reputable partner

Ultimately, bringing your marketing A-Game is complicated. It takes time, strategy, investment, and the right guidance to ensure you will have an ecosystem that positions your organization to win. In this process, don’t be afraid to recruit an expert for that industry or employ a technology partner to make strategic recommendations. Create a roadmap that aligns with your objectives, prioritize your specific initiatives and create the ideal marketing ecosystem for your organization. Your team will be able to focus on creativity and innovation, and you’ll watch your ROI (and credibility as a leader) soar.

 

Are you ready to bring your A-Game?

Through multi-city workshops, LeapPoint will provide senior marketing professionals a solution set that enables their organizations to align with corporate strategy and effectively and efficiently deliver value to the enterprise. We’ll showcase how to achieve these outcomes via a robust, intelligently integrated, set of best-of-breed cloud applications that holistically provide for this capability with effective governance.  All with the added benefit of actually making the end-user experience more efficient and effective.

Learn more about the marketing A-Game and register for an A-Game Workshop in a city near you at leappoint.com.

 

 

Let’s face the facts: Approximately 80% of New Year’s Resolutions fail. A similar percentage of organizational change initiatives (70%) fail to reach stated objectives. Why?

 

It starts and ends with commitment issues. 

 

You wouldn’t start making resolutions or proposing an organizational change if you weren’t non-committal to the status quo in the first place. Still, those of you maintaining a relatively stable lifestyle, relationship, career, etc. may have thought you didn’t have commitment issues. However, if you ever experience patterns of not doing what you intended to do when you intended to do it, then your commitment issues are alive and well, and they’re undermining your power to create change at the individual and organizational levels. “Symptoms” of commitment issues include but are not limited to: “snoozing” alarms, starting/ ending work (or your workout) later than planned, procrastinating, burning your food, giving up on New Year’s Resolutions, and mismanaging digital transformations.

The good news – humans have sucked at commitment for a long time, so experts in psychology and business have developed strategies for understanding commitment and preparing people for a timely change. The great news? These strategies apply to New Year’s Resolutions and organizational change – Here’s how:

 

Start by asking yourself “how committed am I, really?”

 

Imagine it’s New Year’s Eve – you ate too much, drank too much, and the resolution “I’m going to get in shape this year” rolled off your tongue. Of course, it did. You’d just overdone it, and the fantasy of being in shape a year from now feels way better than your current discomfort. Time and money investments aren’t a factor when you’re looking forward to just how much you can accomplish in a year. Plus, what does getting “in shape” even mean – how will you know when you’re there, how will you get there, and how will you maintain progress? So many exciting paths you can take on your fitness journey! So many chances to fail because you haven’t committed until you’ve clearly defined what you’re committing to – the process and outcome. 

The digital transformation “resolution” tends to take a similar course. Imagine you’re meeting with company leaders. Challenges from 2018 are reviewed, including overdue projects that were also over-budget, departmental siloes with redundant initiatives, and knowledge workers spending most of their days on administrative duties. Leadership in the room agreed “it’s time to digitally transform our business,” because they’re realizing the way they’ve been working is not working. Surely, they can save more time and money with all the technological advancements they have to choose from! All they have to do is acquire another tool and then email an announcement when it’s time for go-live. This is usually when their workforce tells the project sponsors to “go…”

This is not commitment.

To be clear – the desire to change is not problematic in either scenario. The desire to address challenges and improve, like your non-committal response to the status quo, is the start to impactful change.

 

Misunderstanding the desire to change as a commitment to change is the problem.

 

Prematurely assuming commitment without the readiness and preparation that comes when people really commit is a recipe for wasting time, money, and morale. Until you’ve precisely defined where you are, why you can’t stay there, where you need to go, when, and who’s going with you – including plans and contingency plans – you have not committed. Preparing for change is a lot of work, but it’s inspired, intuitive and rewarding work when you’re truly committed to the process and targeted outcomes.

 

Once you’ve acknowledged commitment issues, determine your stage of change.

 

Even if you’ve slipped on your resolution or realized your transformation plan isn’t nearly detailed enough to create sustainable change, stay in the change game by more thoroughly evaluating your commitment and readiness for change.

The Transtheoretical Model (TTM) of Change helps psychologists “diagnose” where people are in the process of changing their behavior at individual and organizational levels.1 In the TTM, people and organizations move through five stages of change, characterized by varying levels of commitment and readiness to change.

  1. Precontemplation

For the “get in shape” resolution, this stage may mean neither being thrilled about your current “shape” or seeing it as a problem. It sounds like “I can shape up, I just don’t want to today; Maybe I’ll want to soon.” For a digital transformation, this an organization recognizing they could save time and money or produce more, but business is good enough. Time to change? Nah.

  1. Contemplation

This is the New Year’s Eve and digital transformation “resolution” scenario described earlier. It’s decided that your current “shape” or your way of working is problematic, and there’s a belief that the problems could be addressed. However, plans to solve identified problems are vague. Time to change? Not yet, but it will be within the first half of the year.

  1. Preparation

The preparation stage for getting in shape is when you’ve defined your current “shape,” the target for “in shape,” and the path you’ll take to get there (e.g., plans for nutrition, physical activity, and overcoming challenges). You’ve committed to start enacting these plans within the month. Generally speaking, you’re probably around the preparation stage in the digital transformation process when you’ve selected digital solutions and outlined an implementation process/ timeline that’s aligned with the transformation project objectives. More importantly yet more often overlooked, you’ve developed a detailed change management plan for engaging, training, supporting, and communicating with stakeholders – everyone you need to sponsor, support, and embrace the change while managing other business demands. This stage is the test of an organization’s commitment to digital transformation. This stage done right requires investments in change management.

  1. Action

You know you’re in action when you’ve started enacting plans for change and you believe you’ll continue for the foreseeable future. You’ve started working out, eating, and managing your environment according to the plan for getting in shape. For digital transformations – stakeholders are being engaged, getting trained, receiving regular updates, giving feedback, and seeing their feedback responded to in an iterative process of implementing improvements. This sounds nice and small wins are celebrated along the way, but it’s way easier described than done. Inevitably there are challenges, people get tired, distracted, and the phrase “things get worse before they get better” applies as productivity and spirits tend to dip before benefits are clearly realized. Still, change readily occurs when the preparation stage was done right. Well-prepared organizations have committed to change management plans for overcoming barriers to the desired action.

  1. Maintenance

This is when you’ve enacted your “in shape” and transformation plans for a period of time (6 months according to the TTM for an individual change) and need to sustain positive changes. Part of the planning in the preparation stage should have included how to fold into your lifestyle the behavioral changes you made to get “in shape.” In order to maintain digital transformation initiatives and maximize the benefits of selected solutions, organizational culture needs to transform in tandem with the digital adoption process. That quality change management plan you developed during the Preparation Stage should have included steps for reinforcing digital transformation outcomes over time by integrating them into the way people work.

 

After diagnosing your change stage, engage in stage-matched behaviors.

 

Once you’re realistic about your current stage of change, you’re ready to explore ways to catalyze or capitalize on your commitment so that you can progress through additional stages.

For your New Year’s Resolution, find an accountability buddy, coach, or therapist to help you commit to the change. For your digital transformation, contact LeapPoint to learn more about how we work with customers to understand their commitment and increase their readiness for change with stage-appropriate approaches to change management.

So, in the season and spirit of failing, fail fast – be honest with yourself about your commitment to personal and professional resolutions, and if you’re not committed then it’s not the right time. You’ll know what to do when it is.

Communication is a word that we hear all the time, and even though we know what it is by definition and why it’s important, we don’t always grasp the real necessity of it in a business context and how it can be applied strategically to your business.

What is good communication?

Communication is more than just stringing words into a sentence that can be understood by others; it’s a process that involves careful consideration to get the desired response. If you want to have a positive impact on your colleagues and just about everyone in your life, you have to plan your communication approach. Here is an example of how to tackle an issue in the workplace:

1. Be clear about what you’re saying – Identify the problem and speak in a calm, compassionate manner.
2. Be direct and to the point because this way you get to focus on what’s important without getting derailed.
3. Suggest a solution that you think would address the issue.
4. Listen carefully and respectfully to what the other person(s) have to say.

Once an issue is raised thoughtfully, negotiations will commence until both sides find a resolution that works.

Why an internal communications strategy matters?

So, what does it mean to be genuinely strategic? A good strategy involves planning an actionable response to any potential problems that can arise at any given time and frequently reviewing your plan to find out what is working and what isn’t. After all, it makes good business sense to implement a carefully crafted plan which highlights company goals and objectives to reach these goals.

You’d be surprised just how many businesses don’t have an actionable plan and leave their internal communications to chance. But the problem with this is that it can have a detrimental effect on a business. For instance, it can lead to low employee engagement which can lower morale and efficiency in the workplace. And who represents the company? Your employees. And everything about the way they manage these interactions gives an overall impression of the company in question.

Achieving enterprise objectives through communications

Michelle Roberts, a CEO with more than twenty years of experience in crisis management and strategic planning emphasizes the importance of identifying strategic goals and the tactics to attain them. She notes that “Strategic communication is much more than just words; it’s about aligning actions, words, and images to reinforce the business’s strategic goals. It’s what builds a company’s reputation.”

Roberts also recognizes the importance of thinking collectively when it comes to tackling the different types of communications within a firm. She mentions that if social media, marketing, advertising, public relations, and the company website are managed individually, it can give a disjointed impression to customers. Thus, damaging the company’s reputation.

These days the communication process is multi-directional, so listening is just as critical as communicating. If your company is getting poor online feedback, it’s essential to take on board what the customers are saying and look at how you can improve.

Lastly, consulting with your staff on a regular basis is necessary to ensure that your internal communications strategy is working. If some aspects of it need tweaking, you can do that before little problems turn into big problems.

To compete in the world of dynamic and disrupted digital markets your organization needs to develop the right technology and IT strategy for success. Here are 5 steps to building a better IT strategy for your organization:

1. Traditional or agile?

You’ve heard time and time again the difference between agile and traditional approaches, but do you know which method your organization needs?

Traditional IT Strategy

The traditional approach to developing a new technology strategy involves a structured and sequential process that produces a long-term view of the organization’s technology requirements together with a plan for meeting these needs. Technology strategies developed using the classic approach have a 3- to 5-year time horizon in line with your organization’s vision and business strategy. But focusing purely on long-term goals and plans could actually limit the organization’s ability to respond to the inevitable changes in its markets that will happen over much shorter timescales. Long-term technology plans run the risk of diverging from the actual business needs, which inevitably change and evolve over time.

It’s important to acknowledge, though, the traditional approach to technology strategy has many strengths, and it can serve your organization very well if used in the right circumstances.

Agile IT strategy

The agile approach to technology strategy is based on many of the same activities as the traditional approach but with some key differences that take into account the need for speed and flexibility. The agile technology strategy requires a collaborative and interactive approach with IT personnel working side-by-side with staff from other areas of the business during every step of the process. Additionally, architecture plays a key role in this approach – it’s assumed that the organization’s current architecture is already documented and maintained as changes are made and that architectural principles and standards are established and are used to guide decisions made about technology initiatives.

2. Create your IT mission

IT missions are a great way to highlight cultural points that are of particular importance to the IT department. When formulating an IT mission, remember:

  • It should align with your defined corporate mission.
  • Create a set of simple guiding principles that will drive daily decision making. A great IT mission ought to be used in the recruiting process to gauge cultural fit; it should be used as part of the evaluation of staff; it should even be used to gauge fit of strategic vendor partners.
  • It should be created with at least a five-year time horizon in mind.

 

3. Work with your enterprise

No industry or organization exists that isn’t impacted by technology. Moreover, there is no division of the company that doesn’t need technology to implement its strategies. So, it’s essential that IT engages the rest of the leaders of the company early enough that the plans can still be shaped.

The best way to engage leaders outside of IT is to talk to them about the future. Remember, the conversations don’t have to be explicitly about technology – technology is the “how” or the means of getting to the ends. It’s more important to address the “what” first. If possible, IT should push department leaders to leverage a common framework so that strategic plans line up at the same level of clarity and granularity. By using a common framework, each department plan can be compared, and your organization’s IT team will be able to identify where common themes exist and suggest single solutions.

4. Develop IT’s own strategy

With IT’s mission firmly in mind, and with the insights garnered from having helped shape the strategies of the other divisions of the company and at the enterprise level, IT must develop its own plan. In addition to the inputs from the rest of the company, IT should conduct research into rising general IT trends such as:

  • More sophisticated and persistent cyber threats
  • The innovation of technology at a staggering pace
  • Clients expecting even more from IT
  • The war for technical talent
  • Industry volatility

 

Once the strategy is created, it is essential that the dots be connected with the initiatives and processes that IT will develop and deploy respectively.

5. Don’t discount the power of change management

“Change is good” is a common statement, especially in the digital transformation era, but you would be surprised by the number of well-formulated IT strategies that don’t end up generating the value anticipated because the plans are not communicated well, leading to only a few people driving the strategy forward effectively.

Change management is critical to the success of business technology programs geared towards realizing the mission and vision of an organization. To encourage positive and sustainable change across your organization’s departments, learn the 6 change management strategies that’ll help you avoid burnout and improve digital transformation adoption.

In the workplace, change means progress, new technology, business growth, and increased productivity. But if poorly managed, change can only lead to one thing…employee burnout. What can you do to prevent change burnout and ensure sustainable results? Given the rush to digital transformation across all industries these days, the answer may surprise you – slow down.

In the fitness industry, there’s a widely known training method called Time Under Tension (or TUT for short). It is commonly used in strengthening, conditioning and bodybuilding – all of which involve changing one’s physiology. TUT refers to how long a muscle is under strain during a set. While you may see people at the gym powering through their training with heavy weights and be tempted to replicate their method, the idea of TUT is to think in slow motion – intentionally slow your workouts down to activate your muscles, focus on form, and prevent injuries. By taking the slow and steady path, and evolving your strategy once you pass specific benchmarks, you increase your odds of sustaining your new lifestyle and achieving your goals.

Similarly, a paced and steady path is crucial for effective change management. Technology has transformed every industry, and there’s an increasing pressure to keep up or be left behind. This triggers a knee-jerk reaction to seek change and implement it as quickly as possible. But just like people in the gym who are seeking fast results through heavy lifting, if you push for change too rapidly and without a phased plan of action, you’re likely going to hurt your progress and productivity. So what can you do to ensure smooth and successful transitions within your organization and avoid burnout? Here are 6 tips to follow:

1. Be transparent

When you realize change is necessary, be open with your employees about what needs to change. You’re likely making these changes to benefit those involved, so why keep your team in the dark? Before starting any implementation, hold a meeting to explain what the changes will look like, how and when they will take place, and the anticipated benefits. With open communication, employees are more likely to feel like valued members of the organization.

2. Listen

Digital leaders need a pulse on their organization’s baseline culture in order to recognize shifts in morale and other signs of change saturation. You hired your employees because they are smart, capable, and bring unique skills and perspectives to the table. So create opportunities for them to share their experiences and listen. At least as important as holding a meeting before implementing change is having regular follow-up sessions to keep your employees aware of progress as it unfolds and listen for potential signs of burnout. This time also provides space for employees to share their frustrations and concerns, find solutions, and feel “heard.”

3. Understand the impact change has on your workforce

Any significant change in the workplace can mean more stress for your employees – this can lead to poor performance and employee burnout. In fact, stress over organizational changes has been found to lower the average employee’s performance and engagement. Having a manager who understands the burden that change places on their employees and who encourages them to cope with that stress in healthy ways helps prevent burnout while promoting loyalty and a sense of comradery during transitional periods.

4. Reward champions of change

Adapting to change isn’t easy. But it’s made a little bit easier by encouragers and leaders within the team who step up to the plate when the process gets tough. Have you noticed certain employees going above and beyond to help others adjust to a new transition, share their knowledge, and support their teammates? Publicly reward those employees in unique ways (it doesn’t necessarily have to be in monetary form!) The reward matters less than the genuine expression of gratitude to your employees.

5. Delegate tasks

Significant workplace change may call for new roles to increase the odds of a smooth transition. To avoid overwhelming one or two employees, evenly distribute tasks associated with the change across your team, and publicly announce these change-related roles. This will give employees a personal investment in making the change a success and create a shared sense of having some skin in the game.

6. Publically post metrics and goals

Change in the workplace is hard enough. Don’t waste your team’s precious time tracking down information, instructions, and resources necessary to successfully adjust. Keep your goals and metrics accessible. Technologies and services are available to help your organization’s leaders post directions, processes, and helpful resources facilitate smooth transitions.

LeapPoint is growing! We’re especially excited to welcome and introduce two of our newest team members – Jessalyn Klein, Ph.D., and Naseer Rashid.  Read on and get to know them and how they’re contributing to LeapPoint and our clients.

Meet Jessalyn Klein, Ph.D.

 

Jessalyn Klein is a licensed psychologist who works with individual employees, teams, and business leaders to enhance performance by aligning people with goals for change. Convinced that people are growth-oriented, Jessalyn drives them toward their potential with a compassionate yet challenging consultation that enables them to embrace more effective ways of being and working. Her collaborative approach leverages the LeapPoint team to help clients identify and adopt advancements in process and technology.

In addition to eight years as a psychotherapist, Jessalyn spearheaded the strategic planning, implementation, and evaluation phases of a comprehensive mental health program for a large university. Jessalyn has supported LeapPoint learning and development for two years and now leads the company’s growing change management practice, drawing from her experience driving change at individual, group and organizational levels. Jessalyn holds a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from University at Buffalo.

 

Meet Naseer Rashid

 

Naseer Rashid is a Marketing Transformation Technology Manager at LeapPoint who drives enterprise transformation by partnering with executives and lending them his in-depth knowledge to effectively target and connect with their key audiences through the right content and tools.

Throughout his career, he has held various roles in the marketing technology space – from HR Communications to back-end development. Additionally, he has worked in a number of industries including biotechnology, financial services, government, and software, helping Naseer build an extensive understanding of customer needs and develop an actionable path to success. Naseer holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Systems Engineering and Operations Research from George Mason University.

While many companies are moving toward DevOps processes and tools that fit that framework, few are actually implementing the workflow with the fidelity needed to make teams more productive, according to a Thursday report from 2nd Watch.

Implementing DevOps means fundamentally changing your software engineering process. As with any change of process, success depends on how well the people making the change embrace the principles of the new approach. If people reject, subvert, or undermine the DevOps philosophy, it will fail. Here are six of the most common reasons for DevOps failure, along with tips to increase your chance of success.

1. Creating a traditional “DevOps Department”

78% of the 1,000 IT professionals surveyed said that their organizations continue to have separate teams for managing infrastructure/operations and development—meaning that DevOps is still not fully underway. DevOps involves a collaboration between development, operations, and quality assurance teams. Creating a traditional DevOps department misses the point of making a transition to a DevOps mindset, and is likely to simply add more red tape to existing processes.

This is the opposite of what DevOps should accomplish. Yes, a DevOps implementation requires leadership, but that’s not the same thing as traditional, department-based management. Your DevOps strategy should be implemented as a framework in which your development and operations staff can begin to interoperate, not as a new department that’s tasked with overseeing these disparate groups and somehow forcing them to work together. Focus on getting teams to improve their communication with people working in other departments. In this way, it is possible to assign tasks to the right teams so that every task is completed at the correct point in the overall project workflow.

2. Failing to properly consider staff workloads and other resources

If your developers are already overworked, this might not be the best time to start a dramatic overhaul of their working processes. Before you spring a DevOps implementation on your team, take the time to quantify their workloads and measure performance metrics, so you can see whether individuals are coping with the demands your organization places on them. If you come across an unmanageable boost in workload, you can either re-prioritize the workload or hire new resources to address the staff shortage before you can start your DevOps implementation.

3. Setting unrealistic goals

Never underestimate how big a culture shock DevOps can be in an organization that currently uses a silo structure. You cannot expect everyone to immediately adapt to the change and deliver excellent performance from day one. Be realistic about how long a DevOps implementation is likely to take and set short-term and long-term goals accordingly. And remember: The larger your enterprise is, the longer this transformation is going to take.

4. Creating “hybrid” DevOps while keeping old structures

Some organizations try to reduce the culture shock of DevOps implementation by keeping the business’s old structures intact. However, giving into pushback from developers in this way can undermine the implementation. Rather than keeping the old culture intact, one solution is to build a true hybrid structure that keeps IT operations and development teams in their traditional silos but implements an agile methodology.

5. Misunderstanding the role of business owners

The role of a business owner is to make top-level strategic decisions about the way in which the business is run. It is not to micromanage everything that goes on in the company. While a business owner can decide that the company would benefit from implementing DevOps, they cannot always control how individuals and teams put the principles of DevOps into practice. Rather than trying to impose a new way of doing things, business owners should be willing to listen to the concerns of developers and IT operations employees and find solutions that help them to work more effectively within a DevOps framework.

6. Not embracing a culture where failure is tolerated

Transitioning to DevOps is, first, a cultural shift, and then a process and organizational shift. If you’re considering DevOps simply because “it’s the future”, rather than out of a desire to fundamentally rebuild and improve your business processes, success is highly unlikely.

A key part of the DevOps methodology is failure. Developers should not be afraid to admit to mistakes, particularly when talking about failures could be a vital learning experience for the whole team. When implementing DevOps, be sure to nurture a culture where failure is tolerated.

This year at Leap London, our very own Deven Ravel, former Marine Captain, gave a brilliant presentation on the lessons he’s taken away from his time in the Marines and how he’s applied them to real-world, corporate challenges. Deven told the story of his tour in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province where two members of his squad suffered life-changing injuries in a Taliban ambush and how those events proved to be the best change agents he’d ever encountered—forcing the Marines to adapt to their changed circumstances and breaking new ground in their lives.

He set out 10 key lessons from his experience:

1. Know yourself

It’s not just what you do. You have to think of yourself as the whole organization. Look at the people and the tools you have. What are the expectations of those people? And what about the people you are going to need but haven’t hired yet? Are you thinking two steps ahead?

2. Know your mission

Solutions need to be aligned up and down and organization. This means ensuring that strategic goals (business objectives) are aligned with operational goals (processes and procedures) and tactical goals (delivery).

3. Study history

Know the culture of your organization and understand where it came from. Understanding the history of an organization—knowing where its core values come from—can help tailor change programs to the character of the business.

4. Set expectations

Clear expectations prevent wriggle-room for mistakes. It means you can ask, ‘Do you not understand what was expected?’ or ‘Did I explain it wrong?’

5. Be brilliant in the basics

What are the core standards you expect everyone to have? What are the basic skills that are needed? It’s not about job performance; this is about bare minimum expectations. For his squad of Marines, that meant basic first aid, understanding communication signals, and weapons training.

6. Standardize communications

Define what different communication channels are used for. Make it clear when a team should use instant messenger tools like Slack, email, or Workfront to share information.

7. Build trust

This is hard to measure—it comes from the gut. The key step is to identify change agents within an organization who can help promote change. Those change agents have common attributes among their peers:

  • Influential
  • Respected
  • Impartial
  • Positive
  • Empathetic
  • Proactive

8. Decentralize and empower

If you have established clear expectations, clear communication and aligned objectives, smaller teams will be empowered to act and innovate.

9. Execute with a plan

We ask, ‘What works for the tools you have and the type of work you do?’ If the plan doesn’t fit the tools, the people, or the type of organization, it’s going to be tough to execute.

10. Reflect openly and often

You can only reflect openly and often once you’ve built a culture of trust in your organization. As managers, we need to ask, ‘How can I help you do this better?’