Change is good?

Martin Weller has written an interesting post about the restructuring of our institute. I have to say that I was suprised by the outcomes which suggest we split the unit into two. I, like Martin, am going to avoid the big political hot potato that are my thoughts about the review process itself although I did like meeting the reviewers and in particular Don Williams from Microsoft. Don really changed my view of the type of people who work there since he seems to be genuinely enthusistic about our work and values it. What I will say is that when change happens then the process of change management is important, I’m no expert but I do wish that more organisations would hire dedicated people with change management expertise to guide organisations through restructuring processes.

Why is it important? well because a bit like software development it’s not necessarily what your requirements are (the review outcomes) but rather what system is delivered (the new structures). These can be very different. I welcomed the review and despite a few misgivings about the outcomes I feel that overall this represents a catalyst for change which has been long overdue in our unit. I run a team that struggles with the complexities of dealing with the myriad of calls on our time. We pick up the things that other people cannot and we have no way of filtering or ‘focusing’ on the strategically important. I hope that the new units give us a chance to do that.

I have seen restructuring going horribly wrong, staff get demotivated and the best ones leave. Recruitment is difficult or impossible and the unit struggles under the weight of work that must continue to be done despite all the reorganisation taking place.

I have seen restructuring done really well through a well managed transition period with a reasonable set of targets (very low expectations for the first two years then rising to achieve full success indicators by the third year). This was done with relatively informal processes for migrating staff and building capacity. People moved gradually into new posts or areas and were willing to take on extra stuff as time progressed. The unit was seen as a new entity and treated as such, people were given a sense of ownership and a sense of purpose within the new unit. It wasn’t perfect but it was good.

So I have been involved in restructuring twice before with mixed results, is this third time lucky for me?

I think I’ll conduct some user testing once this is done to check that the system is robust and meets the requirements specification. In the meantime it’s business as usual for me, different structure but the same issues to grapple with.


About willwoods
I'm Head of Learning and Teaching Technologies in the Institute of Educational Technology at the Open University.

3 Responses to Change is good?

  1. rick maurer says:

    Major changes are difficult. And, sadly, there is no third-time charm. The organizations that do it well use sound change management practices. Sometimes the organization does have a dedicated professional to help advise and guide these projects, others hire consultants, and still others learn the skills themselves and apply them to whatever change they are facing.

    It isn’t magic, but change management skills can be learned. It takes discipline and practice. I wish you well.

    Rick Maurer (blog)

  2. willwoods says:

    Thanks Rick. I’d say that our institute is open to change which is a good start. I’ll let you know how we fare in due course.

  3. Pingback: Opening up « Doug Clow’s Imaginatively-Titled Blog

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