map Leading through change

The role of an IT leader often requires leading through change. Use these lessons to navigate change more effectively.

The role of an IT leader often requires leading through change. Often this is because the IT leader may see an opportunity to leverage technology to move the whole organization forward. Yet in many organizations, IT is viewed as an internal support unit. In these organization, the IT leader may carry very little leverage on their own. How can IT leaders successfully lead through change in these circumstances? The answer is “Carefully.”

Multiple angles

When I introduce change, I like to leverage three “lenses.” These help me to consider a decision from all angles:

  • Strategic – Is it the right thing to do?
  • Political – Are the right people behind the idea?
  • Cultural – Are people ready to accept the change?

In leadership, these three lenses play an important role in guiding decisions. They each are important, but must be considered together.

The first lens requires having the right people on the right tasks at the right time. For those strategic plans to have broad effect, leaders need to cultivate support from across the organization, within and without, to ensure success.

For the second lens, the culture of the organization can shape the meaning of the action.  How well a particular decision meshes with its recipients often tips the balance to success or failure. Matching the culture is an important part of getting people ready to accept a change, but in order for that change to stick, your users must be ready to accept the change.

Strong foundation

I try to use the three lens approach as my benchmark in bringing any change to an organization. This method has helped to shape how I communicate about a change, serving as a reminder to consider how the change addresses the strategies, politics, and culture of my audience.

While the three lenses remain a strong foundation for leadership, there are many signs that can indicate users are ready to accept a change. Dissatisfaction in the status quo, or simply a desire for something new, can be a major indicator. It depends on what the change is about, so leaders need to look carefully at what they are changing, why they are changing it, and why their users will care.

Watch for opportunities, influence where necessary, and be prepared to act when conditions are right.