Change management in organizations is an important part of their operations. External and internal environments affecting the realization of organizational value continue to change, and organizations must adapt themselves to these changes or perish. At Blue Cloud, a small software company, the change was necessary to improve productivity and satisfy customer expectations. Effective change management at the enterprise, geared towards the development of a customer-centric work ethic that also recognized employee productivity and innovativeness, was required. The CEO of the company opted to implement a new program called Agile to change the way staff members at Blue Cloud dealt with productivity challenges.
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Although the program had useful bits of desired productivity improvements, it was ill-conceived and its implementation process failed to capture and address salient requirements of change management.
Purpose of paper
The purpose of this document is to investigate the effectiveness of change management process at Blue Cloud regarding the implementation of Agile as a productivity framework and culture in the organization.
Demonstration of the three phases of planned change theory applied at Blue Cloud
The three phases of planned change theory are unfreezing, moving, and refreezing (Spector, 2012, p. 30). The first step involves the creation of an environment for staff members to feel dissatisfied with the status quo. It also involves benchmarking of operations with other companies and diagnosing internal barriers to improve performance. In the Blue Cloud’s case, the phase was represented by the move by Skinner, the CEO at Blue Cloud, to recognize the elements that were not working on Blue Cloud’s software development process. The CEO was dissatisfied with the existing processes of project management. The second phase is about moving organizational roles and responsibilities, as well as relationships (Karma, 2015). In Blue Cloud, after understanding the agile program, the CEO influenced production teams to copy it in the Blue Cloud context.
Rather than work in the traditional way, all the employees dealing with software development would form small teams that reviewed work processes and progress. They also tackled, identified, and assigned micro projects on a daily basis. The last phase is refreezing, and it is about aligning pay/reward systems and re-engineering measurement and control systems. At Blue Cloud, the measure of progress in software development was through yearly work and beta testing results. After change implementation, progress would be measured by monthly releases and the effectiveness of Scrum approaches to daily challenges (Spector, 2012, p. 48). At the same time, the case study showed that the CEO collected feedback from engineers after a year of implementing the changes (Spector, 2012, p. 49). Besides, new organizational structures were formed in the third phase. There were self-organized teams that worked on projects on a daily basis, parallel to overall project plans and schedules. Thus, the organization developed a semi-autonomous project management structure that facilitated rapid decision-making and implementation (Spector, 2012, p. 48).
Multiple stakeholder impacted through the change implementation
The change implementation affected the management at the company and the employees. The changes would affect product testing; therefore, it would affect consumers of the product (Spector, 2012, p. 48). The new philosophy brought by the changes would be to release early and release often. This implied that customers, as end users, would be getting newer releases and bug fixes more often. Besides, the progress of the company affects its shareholders. Success in its financial performance affects positively on shareholders’ interest (Spector, 2012, p. 48). If the Agile system being implemented as part of the change process worked well, it would affect company earnings and the company’s shareholders. After a year of change implementation, the case study showed that engineers were asked to evaluate the effect of change. The request for specific feedback from engineers and the nature of the projects done by the company, software development, indicated that employees in engineering positions were the primary stakeholders of the change implementation. The other mentioned groups were secondary stakeholders impacted by the change implementation (Spector, 2012, p. 49).
Evaluation of “Scrum” agile method for project management and how it worked at Blue Cloud
The agile method of project management follows the principles of collaboration, teamwork, and monthly releases. Scrum, which is an element of Agile, relieves teams from process-laden methodologies by identifying the existing backlog and creating simplified exercises that are meant for finishing the backlog in chunks. For it to work, teams that are self-organizing had to meet daily for a short period. They would use the meetings to identify the progress being made on a larger project, the type of work involved, and the obstacles facing it. A scrum master, who is the leader, moves a self-organized team to tackle an aspect of the challenge quickly.
Applying this method at Blue Cloud ensured that there was efficient work happening to move a project towards its completion with the monthly release cycle. It also acted as an alternative method for problem-solving for major projects by creating alternate units that had less bureaucracy and other hindrances to the effective finding of a solution. Unfortunately, Scrum relies on the same employees and managers who are working on the larger project. Thus, it has the potential of turning out to be a default way of project management, which focuses on short-term visible results of effort and outcome, while ignoring the bigger picture. It could miss systematic project challenges that a self-organized team accomplishing scrum may not be able to handle (Holbeche, 2006). In fact, when senior management focuses on the activity of scrum sessions, it can seem like the organization is working towards solving the problem. Nevertheless, effective organization change to handle systematic delays, resource challenges, and other organization-wide problems will still require appropriate coordination of scrum activities and overall project management activities (Sonenshein & Dholakia, 2012).
The CEO targeted the engineering norms of the company. The company relied on a cycle of spending a year of project development and testing before releasing it to the market. After one year, the company had moved to a monthly release cycle and was aiming to release its products often. It was also implementing scrum as part of the agile program. The case showed that Blue Cloud did not adequately introduce the desired changes. Although there was no reported employee resistance, the outcome after a year was not encouraging. Only a handful of engineers appeared convinced, while others were apprehensive about the changes that the CEO demanded. Besides, a number of them expressed dissatisfaction. Blue Cloud became agile in its software development process, but it did not solve its internal productivity challenges. It continued to devote productive time at meetings to seek solutions to its problems.
Summary of main points
The essay sought to investigate the effectiveness of change management process at Blue Cloud. It revealed problems with the change implementation in agreement with the planned change theory. The failures included not getting employee interest and opinions before asking them to implement the agile program and not piloting the program to identify early adopters and then focus on them first when seeking to change individual behaviors. The employees at Blue Cloud ended up working in the same environment with a different technique. There was a likelihood that indifference and negativity towards the program as expressed by the engineers after a year of implementing Agile were due to poor change transition managed by the CEO.
Collective and individual employee behavior has a significant effect on the productive outcome of organizations. As much as employees adapt to the behavior of the organization as led by its leadership, they also exercise their individual qualities and create additional behavior influences for the organization. It is possible to turn hardship into internal organization’s relations and make them opportunities for creating new habits that become productive organizational traditions. Employee participation is paramount at all stages of change implementation. Moreover, it is improper to skip any stage of change implementation, as it will lead to reduced uptake of the introduced changes.
In the future, the CEO and management team should introduce new programs after seeking employees’ opinion. This will help in avoiding the negative employee attitude expressed towards change implementation efforts. Blue Cloud can focus on mutual engagement across the organization to prevent “change from above” sentiments (Karma, 2015, p. 110), which lead to half-hearted participation by the employees and can result in poor results during new project evaluation. The company should not assume that a system that works with other firms would automatically work at Blue Cloud. There is a need for testing and adequately creating full organization discomfort in the existing system, rather than relying on the discomfort of the CEO.
Holbeche, L. (2006). Understanding change. Oxford, UK: Butterworth-Heinemann.
Karma, E. (2015). Implementing strategy means changes for employees. In F. E. Dievernich, K. O. Tokarski, & J. Gong (Eds.), Change management and the human factor (pp. 109-128). New York, NY: Springer.
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Sonenshein, S., & Dholakia, U. (2012). Explaining employee engagement with strategic change implementation: a meaning-making approach. Organization Science, 23(1), 1-23. Web.
Spector, B. (2012). Implementing organization change: Theory into practice. Boston, MA: Pearson.