Organizational Change – Part I : The Catalyst
by Paolo Hilario
One of the greatest challenges when instituting any form of technology or process changes within an organization is gaining the impetus necessary to fully realize the change. I have had the fortune of meeting many amazingly brilliant people within the AEC industry engaged in all phases, levels, and roles on complex construction projects. Though the specific changes happening within these companies vary widely, there is a single common thread; we are all faced with the same economic and technological changes that are forcing us to adapt to a marketplace that has begun to evolve at a more rapid pace than it ever has before. Owners are demanding more of their project stakeholders, technologies and delivery methodologies like BIM, VDC, IPD, LEAN, LEED, and Sustainability are finding their way into the requirements on many projects. This has forced many companies to place greater importance on finding that “competitive edge” by adopting these technologies/processes, sometimes to the detriment of their organization when implemented without the proper research, planning, and diligence.
For any company to be successful at implementing this type of organizational change, they must have well established foundational values rooted within their company culture. They must already operate as a company that understands the importance of relationships, integrity, and commitment in providing the best possible service to their clients. Otherwise, bleeding edge technology and new project delivery methodologies are really just gimmicks in a sales presentation. I see a common quality in the people from the industry leading companies I meet, they all come from companies that hold a higher sense of purpose than simply turning profit. The executive leadership in those companies invest the time it takes to cultivate this type of environment; innovation, collaboration, integrity, and a sense of ownership permeates these organizations at all levels. This higher purpose is crucial to achieving the momentum necessary for meaningful organizational change.
Setting the proper expectations is another important aspect of achieving your organizations’ goals, most of these technologies/processes require buy-in and sustained effort from various levels. As with everything else, there will be successes and failures along the way, managing the expectations of the various stakeholders and constant communication is of utmost importance. It is important to identify what everyone expects at all levels of the organization from these change programs, it is imperative that you provide visibility and engage all the stakeholders affected.
So your organization has achieved critical mass and is ready for change; where do you go from here? This series will focus on the practical aspects of developing, implementing and maintaining organizational change programs regardless of the type. As organizational needs are different, this will not focus on specific technologies or project delivery methodologies (there are abundant resources on those subjects) but rather the approach.