Technochange management: using IT to drive organizational change
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Using IT in ways that can trigger major organizational changes creates high-risk, potentially high-re ward, situations that I call technochange (for technology-driven organizational change). Technochange differs from typical IT projects and from typical organizational change programs and therefore requires a different approach. One major risk in technochange—that people will not use information technology and related work practices—is not thoroughly addressed by the discipline of IT project management, which focuses on project cost, project schedule, and solution functionality. Organizational change management approaches are also generally not effective on their own, because they take as a given the IT “solutions” developed by a technical team. Consequently, the potential for the IT “solution” to be misaligned with important organizational characteristics, such as culture or incentives, is great.
Merely combining IT project management and organizational change management approaches does not produce the best results, for two reasons. First, the additive approach does not effectively address the many failure-threatening problems that can arise over the lengthy sequential process of the typical technochange lifecycle. Second, the additive approach is not structured to produce the characteristics of a good technochange solution: a complete intervention consisting of IT and complementary organizational changes, an implementable solution with minimal misfits with the existing organization, and an organization primed to appropriate the potential benefits of the technochange solution. With hard work and care, the combined IT project management plus organizational change approach can be made to work. However, an iterative, incremental approach to implementing technochange can be a better strategy in many situations. The essential characteristic of the technochange prototyping approach is that each phase involves both new IT functionality and related organizational changes, such as redesigned business processes, new performance metrics, and training.
KeywordsIS implementation IT project management organizational change management resistance to change system development life cycle
The author gratefully acknowledges the helpful comments of Ann Majchrzak, Chris Sauer, Peter Seddon, Mark Silver, and Alfred Waller on an earlier version of this paper.