In most organizations, whenever one wants to undertake an initiative – change a process, introduce new practices, implement new IT infrastructures, create something new – it is quite common, if not prevalent, to use a Project approach. I.e., assign a Project Manager, put a plan together, mobilize funds, assemble a team and let’s go. The general thinking is that a new initiative represents work outside of current operations and therefore it is preferable to set-up a separate operation – the Project – to create the new asset and then bring it back into the ongoing operation.
Not only is this approach costly (usually requiring the hire of external consultants), it is not very effective at implementing change in the way people work.
A Project is seen as an external space to the “real world” people work in and so the change that is discussed in that separate space is never perceived as being real because when employees involved in the project return to their jobs, the world is still the same. Then, one day, change needs to be implemented and there develops the so-common shock-effect of change. The project timeline went by and we wasted it to let the impact of change accumulate into the end of that timeline. This is why rolling out the results of projects is so difficult if not traumatic.
Let us then introduce a new approach, which we use in all our work. It is called the Immersed Approach.
- The general principle of this approach is that we design, develop and implement change within the current environment, amidst the people of the operation – not outside of it.
- TMA experts will come in and help assess the overall situation, prepare strategies and provide an architecture for new processes and organizational roles (using our Straightline™ methodology). But then, the detailed work of designing detailed processes is immersed within the current environment and we evolve new approaches with the people who work there and while they work there.
- The Immersed Approach evolved from the realization that today the business world is constantly changing and thus organizations and individuals must continuously adapt to new circumstances and new challenges.
- We recommend organizational models and perspectives of processes that assume constant variability. We teach people that the way things are is a moving structure, not a static one. And we show how to manage that kinetic quality of adaptable environments without falling into chaos.
- Some of our coaching is done in workshop settings but most of it is done working with staff and managers either one on one or in social groups.
- In the Immersed Approach, changes to new processes are done in small chunks and gradually. Each increment of change is discussed, designed and implemented right away. Hence, if there is a discussion with staff about a specific process or technique, as we leave the workshop, the new approach is live. Right away! There is no “GoLive” date – it happens now!
The Immersed Approach assumes many forms but whichever the case, change is designed, formulated and implemented by the very individuals that are affected by that change. And we teach organizations to get to a point where change occurs “on the fly”, whenever it is needed.
What about IT Projects?
In most initiatives that involve changing processes, there is some impact on IT systems and infrastructure. In fact, IT is probably one of the main reasons why Projects exist. In the Immersed Approach we look at the impact on IT in a completely different way than what we see in traditional Projects:
- Discussions to evolve new processes take place in Social Groups, just as regular work. I.e., we recommend that organizations evolve a model of “working in communities” through dynamic conversations using social tools, rather than working in cubicles and meeting rooms.
- IT staff are part of these communities. Thus, we bring IT staff into communities where new initiatives are being discussed. It is by listening to these discussions that IT technicians extract requirements for new configurations.
- Once changes to configuration or new Apps are prototyped (by IT technicians), it is in the same communities that those tools are reviewed, discussed and subsequently adjusted.
- Thus, we don’t follow the classical approach of setting up an IT project and bringing “users” to that project. We do the opposite. We let the people from the operation evolve new concepts and bring the IT staff to those communities.
You can read more about the Immersed Approach at our blog article here.