Should we wait for the reorg before improving our processes

By ITIL® from Experience ©

A reorganization1 2 typically changes the structure of the organization to align its resources and reporting structure to the strategy.

Seldom does a reorg change the fundamental and mission critical processes or Vital Business Function3 performed by the organization. The same goes for incidents, service requests and ITIL processes required to maintain services (e.g. Availability, Capacity, Financial Management, Event Management, etc).

During a reorg management has a tendency to put off working on processes until the "dust of the reorg settles." The common thinking goes along the lines of:

  • "Why waste our time improving processes? We may not be doing this in the future.”
  • “We’re doing this for nothing. It’s going to change anyway because people will want to do things their way."
  • “This will not be our problem after the reorg.”

The benefits of improving processes during a reorg or prior to a merger/acquisition is that it captures knowledge from people doing the work before they are assigned to new responsibilities or leave the organization (e.g. lay off). Moreover, working to improve processes and day-to-day activities can greatly motivate people and improve morale (see Why spend effort documenting processes). People working on processes feel that they are:

  • Being listened to
  • Valued by sharing their knowledge and know how
  • Engaged since they contribute to the change and improvement effort

It also keeps people’s minds occupied at building something. It gives them less time to gossip and feed each other’s fears, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) about the future. It also gives them some control over their work-life in the mist of unknown caused by reorgs.
Working on processes during a reorg may also improve collaboration. People have less turf to defend and may be more willing to compromise during process design discussions. Of course the opposite is also true. Some people become militant defenders of their jobs as they fear that documenting process and procedures enables management to lay them off.

Each manager needs to gauge their people’s reaction to change and decide on the benefits of improving the process now instead of waiting (see What does it mean to have CIO and management support). From our experience most people are willing to work on processes. If for nothing else they can pass along their legacy of best practices learned over the years. Finally, the organization will benefit by improving its processes regardless of a reorg.

Last updated on: 2018-06-13
Published on: 2013-01-21

"In a re-org a lot of people take the opportunity to unilaterally decide what they do and don't do."

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