Optimal placement for the Organizational Change Management team

Optimal placement for the Organizational Change Management team

Organizations will create departments and teams who manage and enable change.  These individuals facilitate the adoption and accountability of change across the organization.  By bringing a standard set of tools, nimble methods and a level of subject matter expertise, a formalized change practice reduces people related issues during deployment.  However, one of the major challenges I see is when the organization or even the change practitioner who is developing (we’ll call it an Organizational Change Management Center of Excellence aka OCM CoE) an OCM CoE ends up either placing the organization within IT or under HR.  However, this is not true if you are a software firm or a technology firm.  Why?  That’s because technology is the root of the business, it’s how the business makes money so in this case it is ideal to have OCM within IT.  My blog here is talking about non-Software/IT companies.  Think about an oil gas firm, retail, utilities etc.  

Having an OCM CoE within IT or HR can make it difficult to manage change due to a variety of reasons as highlighted below.  My preference is to have the OCM CoE under the CFO or COO.

Under IT (if it is not a software or technology specific firm):

  1. Business units will see anything you do as a “IT project” only and less inclined to change their specific way of working.
  2. The staff in those business units will believe you do not have any subject matter expertise in their field to coordinate change.
  3. You are a cost center and at the end of the day, since you are not generating revenue, your initial representation from front line staff is tainted.

Under HR:

  1. People are initially scared/reserved by HR staff.
  2. The term HR or even the softer version such as “People Management” or “Talent Capabilities” etc all mean the same but doesn’t still help the cause.
  3. The stigma behind HR initiatives are that it’s all re-org related and people will lose their jobs.  We know this is not true but most stakeholders do not.

My preference is to have the OCM CoE under the COO or CFO.  This can still work if your CIO reports to your COO:

  1. Operational improvements are always taking place and having the COO behind you to help facilitate change is far greater than an IT PM.
  2. The CFO releases budget and controls budget.  If you are working for the CFO who owns the checkbook, you are much better off when pushing change.
  3. Many organizations have the CIO reporting to the CFO.
  4. Working under the COO/CFO will make the OCM CoE agnostic to any business unit.  This shows the OCM CoE would have a wide spread of where and how they can function.

There’s my rant for the month.  It’s difficult to get the COO/CFO to agree to have an OCM CoE underneath them but if your organization is pushing for a formal practice then I would push to align the organization in the right spot.

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