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People are the most important factor in determining the success or failure of a transformation, but they may also be your greatest challenge. The following are some practical steps to help you navigate the transition.
People are at the heart of any change that occurs. Why?
Because for any type of transformation to be meaningful, long-lasting, and effective, there must be a change in how organizations operate as well as how their people behave within those organizations. This is especially true for cloud conversions, which are all about introducing agility into a company’s operational processes. That does necessitate some technical adjustments, but in some ways, it’s the easiest part.
We discovered that people’s natural tendency to resist, if not actively obstruct, changes in technology and processes causes a large number of cloud transformation programs to fall short of their promise of increased agility and speed. This is the primary reason for these programs’ failure.
One of the fundamental tenets of cloud computing is bringing a revolutionary mindset and approach to IT in support of business objectives. This is true regardless of the technological foundations or workload placement that you choose to implement. It challenges traditional roles and responsibilities in information technology and necessitates the adoption of new procedures and skills. As a result, demand for certain positions falls while demand for other roles rises.
It’s interesting to see how people react to the changes that “cloud first” brings to their day-to-day work. Are they confident that they will be able to carry out their responsibilities effectively in a cloudy environment? Do they still believe that the organization values them as much as it did previously?
When asked how the transition to a cloud experience is going, cloud transformation leaders often give technical answers. For example, they may claim that they have reduced the time required to complete a specific task by 30% or that they have re-platformed 200 workloads. These measures are significant; however, they do not address the more pressing issue of how the transition is affecting the people who are affected by it, which is a frequently overlooked question.
It’s interesting to see how people react to the changes that “cloud first” brings to their day-to-day work. Are they confident that they will be able to carry out their responsibilities effectively in a cloudy environment? Do they still believe that the organization values them as much as it did previously? These are legitimate challenges that employees working on a cloud project face, and they do not always manifest themselves in obvious ways.
A framework for managing organizational change
Is there a significant difference between a project to manage organizational change and a cloud computing endeavor? Over the years, we’ve discovered that opposition to cloud transformation initiatives is essentially the same as opposition to any major enterprise transformation project. This is something we have learned over the years. As a result, we can use the same tools made available by the domains of organizational change management and process re-engineering.
Let us examine these various stages of transformation from the employee’s perspective:
Phase 1: The Exciting Beginning
At the start of the program, everyone is excited and open to new ideas about the positive effects the program will have on the company. They begin to inquire about how the project will affect their jobs as well as those of their team as soon as more information becomes available. As a result, they gain knowledge and become more curious. They are becoming more aware of the potential effects that the program may have on their daily responsibilities.
After that, a shift in behavior from collaboration to opposition is possible. People seek safety in various forms of denial, including rejection and diverting their attention elsewhere. They start saying things like “This, too, shall pass” and “We are unique—cloud computing will not work for us given the specific criteria we have for our firm.”
The second stage is the realization of the work and its complexity
The most important decisions are made during the realization phase of the cloud adoption lifecycle. If inquiries are not answered, employees will begin to construct their narratives, which are almost always based on a lack of information. Staying motivated may be difficult due to feelings of dread and fear.
Staff may begin to handicap themselves or their teams by setting unattainable goals and developing ill-conceived execution plans. They may seek ways to delay the process, such as conducting extensive analyses, over-engineering solutions, or adding unnecessary layers of complexity. Their goals are no longer in sync with those of the corporation. They are determined to maintain the status quo in any way possible, regardless of the goals set for the company by their employer.
The Third Stage is Integration
The confusion caused by the realization fades with time. Employees and other stakeholders will begin to gain a better understanding of how the cloud transformation will affect them specifically during the integration phase.
Members of the group learn that cloud-related skills are in high demand, increasing the market value of those skills. People gradually develop an interest in seeing the situation resolved successfully. They attempt to align themselves with the company’s new way of thinking while also setting expectations and norms for those around them.
Group members may require more assistance than anticipated at this time. They are prone to becoming extremely frustrated when something does not work flawlessly the first time it is tried. Even though team members are experiencing positive emotions, they are also concerned that the initiative will fail, forcing them to return to the unpredictability of the realization phase. To successfully navigate the unexpected challenges of this phase, the staff members require both reassurance and novel approaches.
Phase 4: renewed self-assurance and continued progress
Finally, we’ve reached a tipping point where cloud computing will become the industry standard.
If the transition was well-planned and well-executed, the team will have reached a consensus and their performance will now be fully aligned with the established best practices for the new cloud environment. The team members have a sense of accomplishment, and they are open and honest about what is at stake for the team if they fail.
Those directly involved in the project launch an active recruitment campaign for new believers. In place of the previous pace, their implementation stroll is becoming more of a brisk walk or jog.
Your strategy for involving people
It is important to recognize that different people will experience this shift at different rates and to varying degrees, depending on who they are. It is not uncommon for personnel involved in a cloud transformation program to experience difficult transitions. Transitions are difficult to manage in any industry.
Consider the case of systems engineers who are retraining to become DevOps engineers. They may not realize it, but they are about to embark on an exciting new career path that will play an important role in the organization’s transition to cloud-first practices. Even if they see improvements in corporate outcomes, they may still struggle and discover that it takes months to become comfortable with the new procedure and the responsibilities that come with it.
People who are forced to adapt to new circumstances suffer a series of losses, including loss of control, loss of confidence, loss of competence, and even loss of identity. It’s possible that they were happy in their previous position because they were well-versed in the subject matter, had a thorough understanding of the company, and knew who to talk to and how to get things done. Because the legacy of information they inherited may be irrelevant to their new work, they may feel less needed or essential as a result.
Because each individual’s willingness to adapt to change varies, businesses must devise strategies to engage their employees and other stakeholders. A Cloud Business Office (CBO), which is responsible for making cloud transformation decisions, has proven to be an efficient method for managing the changes brought about by cloud transformation.
A well-thought-out change strategy will address all three aspects of people’s engagement: 1) Recognizing the impact of change on individuals, 2) identifying actions that positively identify those who are impacted, and 3) having the knowledge and ability to resolve potential problems as they arise.
Management must identify the various stakeholder groups, including program sponsors, change agents, influencers, and resistors, who will be impacted by the cloud transition.
The following step is to create an overview of the activities that will benefit each group. We discovered that organizing the process into the six organizational change management disciplines listed below makes it more effective:
Executive sponsorship is required, as well as the ability to lead
When leadership is committed and engaged, the organization as a whole receives additional confirmation that the change endeavor is a priority that will continue over time. By focusing on the outcomes at all levels of the organization’s workforce, leaders can manage employees through the “realization” phase and into the “integration” phase.
Management of stakeholders
An effective cloud transformation solicits the participation of customers and vendors, in addition to the workforce, and it outlines the project’s expectations as well as the success criteria. An effective chief business officer (CBO) creates a clear picture of the transformation’s stages and assists stakeholders in understanding the stage the transformation has reached in its development, the steps that must be taken next, and the victories that have been achieved.
A multilevel communication plan is a communication strategy that targets multiple levels, including those of the company, the team, and the individual. Maintain transparency and coherence with regard to the aspects of the situation that will not change. Never underestimate how many times employees must hear the same information before it becomes ingrained in their minds.
Training, education, and brushing up on old skills are all important
The transition to the cloud will almost certainly necessitate additional training. Bringing in new personnel takes a lot of time and money, so whenever possible, try to find people who have the potential to perform in new roles and then work on strengthening their confidence and motivation.
Programs that recognize and reward exceptional performance
The adoption of a cloud-first business model provides an opportunity to rethink both the definition of “performance” and how employees are compensated. Leaders can encourage employees to embrace the transformation and properly adapt their abilities and habits by linking metrics to successful outcomes and demonstrating how those metrics will be measured. Individual, team, and business-wide resistance will be detrimental to success; therefore, the company must adapt appropriately.
Alignment within the organization
A cloud-centric approach will fundamentally alter the way things are done. Scrum, DevOps, and continuous delivery are examples of models that demand new ways of doing business. This necessitates breaking down silos and requiring people and groups to communicate in new and frequent ways with new business units with whom they may or may not have previously worked. This goes beyond individual abilities and necessitates the removal of barriers. Cloud computing is revolutionary because of this, as well as the underlying technology.