back to article 'You don't even know what change management is'

A reader isn't impressed with El Reg making fun of the job that requires applicants to be "responsible for shaping and managing the execution of the change ambition". It surfaced in this story, about how the BBC's Digital Media Initiative cost £38.2m, instead of making savings, and how it managed to be 21 months behind schedule …

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Grenade

Surely...

From "how it managed to be 21 months behind schedule after only 24 months."

This isn't so much change managment as don't change anything management....

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Grenade

Piffle

"Change Management" is a highly important part of most large projects. For Mr. O's education, it involves actually getting people to USE the system, properly and well, and efficiently. It consists of designing new work and process flows (i.e., swim lane diagrams, Six Sigma, etc.) to take advantage of the new system, gathering user input into the design process, ensuring that the business areas surrounding the new system can work with it well, and ensuring proper training and certification in the new system, etc.. This is not a small thing - large projects fail equally often because a new system could not be USED properly when put in place as fail because they can't be built.

Good, professional change management consultants can make or break a large project. The only problem occurs when CM consultants become escalated to project managers, because then in their minds the ENTIRE PROJECT is now a change management exercise, and the tech bits are just, well, trivial. Obvious. Not worth worrying about. Sometimes they skip the PM role entirely and become account managers, which is even worse in my experience - at least as PMs they would have learned how limited their worldview was after a few balls ups....

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Glad I'm not the only one who thought the article was a bit off-target

The first thing I think when I hear "Change management" is ITIL - as in, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ITIL#Change_Management. It's not "just" traditional management, or "just" technical/implementation work.

Given that ITIL is a UK.gov invention (and a pretty good one at that, at least IMO) I'm surprised it didn't even merit being dismissed in this piece...

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Thumb Up

@Robert Hill - Thank you!

At last! Someone with actual knowledgeable on the subject. It only took two articles to get there.

Now, I'm off to join all the disgruntled cowboys below. They seem like so much fun.

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Grenade

Change Management is like Risk Management

Both good ideas on paper, but in reality are anus magnets.

Attracting the Anal,that is.

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@Captain Underpants

"The first thing I think when I hear "Change management" is ITIL"

The first thing I think when I hear ITIL is "a bullshit-peddling IT bureaucrat's framework placed around common sense, how quaint"

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

OK, so it should be called...

"Project Management"

The "change" is completely redundant. As I thought.

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Flame

And there was I thinking you did problem definition first

change management; Usually a set of clerks used to hinder and subvert communications between system users, technical staff and vendors. Goal; making sure users and customers really frustrated and angry. Dont get me started about ITIL, yet. If you have to make sure the system gets used, the organisation and system has already failed. Using new system efficiently then follows from this.

I have yet to see a "new" system that was not a disjointed mess of non-intuitive, disfunctional crap until at least revision 3, patch level 2.

BTW, if this article is a FOTW, it is most inadequate. I will really have to do one on ITIL, that happy hunting ground for people with no skills and diseased with a deep desire to lord it over the competent trying to do something constructive. ITIL, that b*st*ds paradise for the dull and stupid with too much time and influence. Only those with a love of gibberish, tautology, hair splitting or processed obsessed could like it.

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Silver badge

Technician != beaurocrat!

The technical people are the ones who actually have a clue and do something tangible. We're not the ones who endlessly produce and shuffle paper around that no one reads or the ones who chuck 2 or 3 silly buzzphrases into every sentence they utter in a pitiful attempt to disguise their pig ignorance and convince others that they have their finger on the pulse.

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FAIL

beaurocrats.

You will want us to sack all those paper pushers in the payroll department then?

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absolutely

yes get rid of paper pushers, pen pushers and drug pushers. Wot you need in Payroll is button pushers to ensure changes to the payroll system get entered correctly and your pay gets sent through to the automated BACS gateway 3 days before the end of the month.

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Coat

Wow A comment section on an AO Article!

Thanks! One can only hope that this is the start of something new rather than a 'flash in the pan' episode.

On topic.

Managing Change in an Organisation is a whole lot different to normal management.

Managing Change often involves changing the culture, ethics and just about everything in an organisation in order to meet the objectives of the change.

If you go at this like a Bull in a China Shop then you will most likely piss a whole lot of people off and if you go too far they will quit.

Obviously, this might be an undisclosed objective of the change but you do risk having the few talented people you might have being the first out of the door leaving the dregs behind. This is a risk.

Another risk that you have to face these days is Employment Tribunals and Constructive Dismissal cases by the shed load.

Experienced Change Manager will be very clued up on what is legal and what is not. General Managers IMHO are in the main totally ignorant about this area of employment law.

Then you have notice periods. How many managers would try to enforce them? All that a savvy employee has to do is say.. 'I'm going to work for your biggest competitor' and you will most liekly show them the door. All this stuff has to be considered by these Change Managers.

No, I'm not one. I have however been on the end of 'Downsizing', 'Rightsizing' or whatever you deem to call it.

I've got me coat on already. Infact, I didn't take it off.

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Will the real AO stand up.

I agree. This article has a comments section so it can't be a real AO production. There are *some* things in life that you *can* rely on.

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Anonymous Coward

{Rises to his feet}

What are you whinging about now exactly, Bill?

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Proves my point

"Managing Change in an Organisation is a whole lot different to normal management. Managing Change often involves changing the culture, ethics and just about everything in an organisation in order to meet the objectives of the change."

No, that's part of normal Management.

"Experienced Change Manager will be very clued up on what is legal and what is not.... General Managers IMHO are in the main totally ignorant about this area of employment law."

WTF?

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FAIL

Re: Point Proven?

Would you put the manager of a finance dept in charge of the HR dept? Would you put the manager of a hospital trust in charge of a car factory? Would you put Alex ferguson in charge of the England Rugby squad?

In the same way you have managers who specialise in different areas of business or different entire industries, you can have people who specialise in managing change. Is that so difficult to grasp?

It's the same with journalist surely, being a 'Journalist' does not qualify you to write about any subject.

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@Andrew O

I believe you are looking at "Managers" sort of like we used to look at "Systems Administrators." Sysadmins needed to know about programming, scripting, web design, hardware, software, networking, storage...the lot of it. There are precious few of us left. The .com boom saw MASSIVE projects undertaken which required hundreds of engineers and technicians working on the same IT job. Systems administration became fragmented into "storage administrators," "network administrators," "application administrators" and so forth.

This has really started to happen to "management" as well. People thought "it's too hard to be a 'jack of all trades' manager, so let's break up the job of management into smaller, specialised roles." This is where you get "project managers, change managers, personnel managers, time managers, etc." from. The “manager” at the top of the stack doesn’t have to worry about the details of knowing how to do all the sub-jobs well; they simply act as an aggregator.

Like a modern systems administrator, who contracts out everything – or has a cadre of specialists to call upon – modern managers have become little more than communications specialists. They exist to route communications traffic between the various individuals. In a perfect world where everyone were all grown up and able to put aside their egos, this would never be necessary.

In the real world, people are puck effing poor at communication. No matter how professional the individuals are, if you get more than six or seven working together, there are going to be communication difficulties, rivalries and even simple things such as issues that arise form two people having different working definitions of the same word.

The entire concept is pointless, it’s childish, and I think it’s really a symptom of a greater malaise: that the people in charge of things simply aren’t “individual enough” to knuckle down and do some actual hard work. Whether it be systems administration or management, there is in my opinion no excuse for not taking the time to fully and properly explore as much of your field as is reasonably possible. Bring in a consultant or specialist for the gaps you simply can’t fill…but for the love of $deity…

…don’t suck at your job so much you need a “change manager.” Change managers are the storage administrators of the management field. A decent systems administrator will know what a good storage admin knows. (And that is an *ssload, of info.) It’s pretty fundamental to doing the rest of the systems administration job, though.

A good manager should know change management. But maybe I’m just too old for this modern apathetic, specialised work environment.

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Happy

Wikipedia helps

According to Wikipedia:

"Change management is a structured approach to shifting/transitioning individuals, teams, and organizations from a current state to a desired future state."

So... management?

"As a multidisciplinary practice that has evolved as a result of scholarly research, Organizational Change Management should begin with a systematic diagnosis of the current situation in order to determine both the need for change and the capability to change."

Oh, my mistake. EFFECTIVE management.

I suspect it's a job title made necessary by increasing beaurocracy and ineffective middle management. Too many line-toeing directionless droids promoted into people-management positions with no clue as to how to progressively run a business, beyond following simple instructions like 'If employee is late, bellow until apology forthcoming.'

If an organisation decides there is a requirement for 'Change Management', I'd agree, but only in literal terms - they need to change their management.

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No, not "... management"

Change management is specifically (wait for it) management of business/process change, as opposed to management of a steady-state/"business as usual" service. Most management frameworks consider it a specific job function, even if carried out by the same manager.

So the BBC job ad says that experience of business-as-usual management isn't enough, because the job is specifically about change.

The slaggable angle in the ad is thus:

"extensive knowledge of implementing change programmes in large and complex organisations to successfully deliver a change programme as part of the Digital Media Initiative"

"Implementing change programmes to deliver change programmes" is either:

A) tautologous/redundant

or

B) the onion of bureaucracy gone mad -- "we need a change manager to manage the change to the change management procedure that manages change of change management within the management of change management changes"....

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Happy

"ineffective middle management"

And there I think you've hit the nail squarely on the head - in the 70's and early 80's most large companies shed a vast array of "middle management" positions in the effort to become "lean and mean" without ever really considering what those middle managers actually did... Douglas Adams effectively satirized them as "telephone handset sanitizers".

These days the executive functions of the traditional middle manager are performed by corporate management (often badly) who create new positions like "Change Managers" to effectively shift the blame. Meanwhile, most of the actual work (as opposed to management) that the middle management used to perform is now being done by the lower level workers who have very little reason to care to the data produced has any meaning.

Thus we're all "more more productive" these days - yet wonder why being more productive is not translating into better pay or working conditions ... this attitude (IMHO) goes a long way to explaining the recent banking fiasco.

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Anonymous Coward

Job title inflation

Lots of people with a "manager" job title are actually "administrators". They can run the business according to the existing goals and rules, but no more. It's mundane work, but somebody has to do it.

So people who are actually real managers, who work to improve things, have to inflate their title to "change manager".

It's no coincidence that MBA actually stands for "Master of Business ADMINISTRATION"...

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Silver badge

Let me just add to that

This just dropped into my in-box:

"I wanted to share with you two candidates we recently interviewed. Candidate X is an Office Assistant/Bookkeeper and is looking for $42,000 annually. Candidate Y is an Executive Assistant/Office Manager and is looking for $65,000 annually."

Candidate X performs a useful function - worth $42k

Candidate Y doesn't do much but has an MBA - worth $65k

So what's "Z", a "Change Manager" worth?

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Nor is it a coincidence that...

NASA == National Aeronautical and Space Administration.

NASA is a no a scientific organization but is run by the administrators for the administrators.

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@ineffective middle management...

Think you're right there. My observation of shedding middle management and flatter organisation structures is that for every two middle managers an organisation makes redundant they hire three project managers and change managers.

The main difference is that everything then gets silo managed, and no-one is watching the big picture. Change now gets seen as some wonderful goal in itself, as opposed to a necessary evil as part of running the business.

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Good post

Thanks Gall.

"as opposed to management of a steady-state/"business as usual" service."

That's Standard Operational Duties, part of Traditional Management as the Strategic Change stuff.

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The real benefit of change management

It does for organisations what an operating system does for a computer: slows things down to a manageable speed.

We know this works, since my W7, 4GB, 1TB box takes as long to boot now as my CP/M, 64k, 3½" floppy box did in 1986

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certainly does work

As your new box manages 65,500 times the memory and 700,000 times the disk space, I'd say that's not altogether bad. (All figures are -ish, pendants).

BTW, old timers out there, why 1.44Mb? Apart from being twice 720kb, of course.

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Boot Speed

And neither boot up as fast as a 1Mhz ICT1301 that was built in 1961.

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Anonymous Coward

720

720 is twice 360 which hints at something...

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Welcome

Depended on the floppy, actually

Different disks had different capacities depending.

The BBC Micro used 256byte sectors and started with SSSD40T (single sided single density - 10 sectors per track - 40Ttrack, so 100K), later became DSSD80T (400K). With the WD1770 we then got double-density disks which were sometimes 16 sectors per track (640K, eg Solidisk, Acorn) or 18 sectors per track (720K, eg Opus).

The IBM PC and clones typically used 512byte sectors and went to "quad density". The 5.25" floppies maxed out at 1200Kb - commonly called 1.2M (80 tracks, 15 sectors per track, 512 bytes per sector, double sided). 3.5" floppies were 1440Kb - commonly 1.4M or 1.44M (80 tracks, 18 sectors per track, 512bytes per sector, double sided).

So the capacity of the floppy depended on the type of floppy (density), number of tracks and whether the drive was single or double sided.

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windows CAB files on floppys

1.63Mb.....

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Flame

I refuse to enoble a simple forum post!

Pretty poor FOTW TBH...

Very little by way of pointless capitalisation. No random swearing or name calling. Actually makes a good fist of getting his POV across....

Yes, pretty poor effort I'm afraid.

If this is the best FoTW you're currently generating AO, may I suggest you try harder!

ta

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Er, OK.

Not as good as last week's - but it was high on righteous indignation.

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Joke

Isn't change management...

...what women do when you marry them?

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Anonymous Coward

Change management?

If not an oxymoron about management, I guess it must be something to do with purses or handbags.

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Silver badge

Is the post still vacant ?

"In this case the BBC is seeking to fill this temporary position with a senior manager with broad and extensive knowledge of implementing change programmes in large and complex organisations to successfully deliver a change programme as part of the Digital Media Initiative."

Is that the BBC looking for someone to leave them a production and director instructions [well, apparently it is only a temp they looking for/need] on how to ensure that TeleVision and BroadBandCasting properly program nations to speak peace unto nations ..... which is an art phorm they have definitely lost.

The only saving grace though, is that no one else in the mainstream has it either. What we appear to have nowadays, as a prime default global standard, is an overabundance of mindless mediocrity fueling incompetent idiocy, which makes nations easy prey for smart vultures and rogue sharks alike.

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Anonymous Coward

Oooh! Pretty picture!

As interesting as the patient explanations of this "change management" thing and where the amazingly elegant through sheer simplicity methodologies like six sigma, prince II, itil, and such fit into this picture, I have not the time to apply said methods to figure out the obvious: That advert was well-deserving of the ridicule.

It isn't the first time that sheer bad practice has given something a bad name so different names were sought. It isn't the first time that people found they didn't understand the field so broke it up into formalisms. It isn't the first time that other people amazingly get by without all that verbiage.

Change Management in IT is seen as separate from Management because the latter managed to eggregiously fail, so people figured out how to work out systems to sell as silver bullets and now we're stuck with the resulting formalistic complexity employed to sort out the intrinsic but ill-understood complexity inherent in the job. Oh woe is us. But it's good eats for the consultants selling it.

I haven't actually bothered to decipher all the crap in the advert, as I didn't need to to get the gist: The bbc or at least that digital media division is struggling to change its organisation but cannot for those who must make it happen somehow aren't very good at their jobs at all, and this has been the case for too long and managed to get entrenched everywhere. Including in the thinking about changing the organisation. Yet they won't risk burning it down to the ground and start over, either. So they need a scapegoat. A freshly hired professional scapegoat with all the right tick boxes ticked. And who knows, maybe this new hire will make pigs fly, too.

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Headmaster

El Reg Standard Unit Required

Really Andrew this will not do! FoTW? FTW! (again) The really does not qualify.

What we really need is a Reg Standard Unit of flamieness and only e-mails that achieve a certain pre-defined quotient (possibly annually adjusted to account for flame inflation) may be considered for the title FoTW. El Reg readers deserve such quality control.

Naturally as I am only a humble reader I am not qualified to determine the precise nature of this measure. However it may include such factors as:

(i) statistical analysis of the deviation of key-presses away from the intended character;

(ii) profanity/capitalisation quotient;

(iii) induced sympathetic reaction index (possibility of apoplexy or derisive laughter affecting the reader);

etc.

Get the big brains on the job!

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

It already exists

It's ten years old, but doesn't need updating really.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2001/01/12/how_to_write_a_flame/

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Grenade

Wrong diagram

http://www.despair.com/somevedi.html

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Happy

Ven diagram

My 13yo daughter wears that T-shirt to school!

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

Silver badge
FAIL

A fail on both counts?

21 months behind after 24 moths.

24-21 = 3, so 3 months of work completed in 24 months.

No siginficiant change then.

The fact that this has been permitted clearly shows there's no real management.

Therefore, this cannot be down to "Change Management".

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Happy

Not so my friend

At the BBC that's *precisely* what a Change Manager is supposed to do.

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Anonymous Coward

Six Sigma

As an x-Motorolan who has been fully certified in Six Sigma I can tell you that anyone who mentions Six Sigma should simply be shown the door immediately.

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Anonymous Coward

I heard they don't tell you the good stuff until you reach Black Belt

rather like Scientology...

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( ^ - ^ ) / \ ( ^ - ^ ) High Five

"an administrative function trying to sound like an executive one"

Best insight of this author's that I've ever read.

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Joke

I was going to comment

but that pie chart - it done it for me! I can't take this anymore

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