Organisational Behaviour - Reflect on Change using Lewin’s Model

Organisational Behaviour - Reflect on Change using Lewin’s Model

In my last role I was part of a new system implementation called Project Server. This paper reflects on the organisational change Project Server had and analyses the change against Lewin’s Force Field Analysis model. I will then review the impact and success of Project Server and what other conclusions I can draw for future change projects.

Change Situation – Project Server
Project Server is a tool to help project managers plan their projects, team members to view their tasks and record their time and management to review capacity, forecasts and project progress as well as individual and portfolio profitability. Almost the entire company would be impacted by introducing Project Server as a new tool to increase effectiveness and visibility to help with decision making. Previously the systems used to run projects were completed in the standard Microsoft Office Suite such as Access, Excel and Project. The company did not require superior technology like Project Server as there were not many projects being implemented concurrently. With expansion and growth visions, the need for an integrated system to be able to plan projects and resources was certain.

Analysis - Lewin’s model and Reflection
When I started at my old company the unfreezing process was already taking place. Project Server was already well talked about amongst the team; however there was no urgency from management. The driving forces behind this within the team were that the existing time recording systems were very slow and clunky. There was a discontent about the existing systems and the need for an updated and more accurate system was motivating people to change. This was especially the case for a technology company, where people want to work with the latest tools. Although the project would also be competitor driven, to be able to manage customer projects better and more cost effective, management did not have the resources to drive this change from a leadership and internal resources perspective. Team members were already doing overtime and an internal project was at the end of the priority list. While the company was certainly ready for the change, there was no capacity to drive the change and this direct cost was one of the restraining forces.

Another restraining reason was the fear of the unknown or breaking the routines of project managers. Project managers did not know what to expect and did not fully understand the benefits. There was little engagement in driving this or bringing up new ideas and best practice. The current systems worked well in the past, but would not be suitable for the future growth vision. Although none of the management team was driving the change, a change would ultimately be required.

Although there was enough motivation from the team for a new time recording system and myself for more accurate data and reporting, I was only able to use existing internal resources, which did not give the project any momentum. When I then was tasked with the restructuring and building up a new team of Project Coordinators, the internal project went on stand-by. Not allowing for resources or time was dampening motivation and momentum, even just for new ideas to make this project a success. Involving the right team is another aspect that is very important. Although project managers did not have time to run this internal project, they were the key users of the system who did in this case not engage in the change.

Reducing Restraining Forces during Change implementation
When a new CEO joined the company he understood the potential of Project Server, the visibility it would give him as well as the reduced costs. From that moment on the project’s priority was increased, which in effect put further pressure on the team by requesting even more overtime. The senior management team from then on communicated and requested the project to be progressed the project was also communicated in the monthly team meetings.

A consultant was hired to train people on how to set project server up and how to record time. Further training was required for staff on how to use MS Project at proficiency level, as Project Server requires high discipline to ensure it reflects true values.

Employee involvement
An internal team was set up to drive the change on top of their normal responsibilities. This additional work and time constraint did not motivate people to go the extra mile, however management now pushed this through and the quality of customer projects suffered because of this.

Stress Management
Stress management was completely ignored. People were stressed to meet the deadlines of the project and parts of the project were not implemented properly, which resulted in mistakes and additional work.

There was no room for negotiations, as our management team did not seem to have any negotiation power towards the CEO.

The new CEO did not reduce fear to achieve more change stability, he instead increased fear. He added this to the senior management’s team immediate performance goals and threatened job security. This was when management gave all their attention to the project to make sure this would progress, no matter what. Again due to the fact that the CEO pushed this change through, he simply did not want any negative answer. Possibly he had similar reasons toward the stakeholders to show them the implementation and visibility, a quick win for him; however he might have left the team behind.

Although the CEO fully supported the project, he failed to talk to staff on their well-being. He relied on his senior management team to implement the project, however he placed high pressure on his management team, which filtered through to the team and as a consequence was very demotivating. During change, particularly in this case with a new organisational structure, a new CEO and new regime perhaps was the time when it was even more important to see how team members were doing and to build trust and open communication.

Refreezing or the realignment of the change was still on going as people were using the system more proficiently. New reports were being written and project processes were being improved.

Organisational Structure
During and after the change, some of project managers had left the company either because of any of the changes or simply too many of changes at the same time. The process of restructuring is still in progress as well, as the CEO is hoping for further cost savings due to the system.
Information Systems

Project Server requires extensive training and knowledge on capabilities. Just because a system is implemented does not mean it is used in its most efficient way. Many existing systems were replaced by Project Server and allowed a smoother process for project planning and cost accounting.

Feedback sessions were completed to improve the tool even further.

No rewards were received for the implementation of the tool.

It would have been great to have had a symbolic farewell of the legacy time recording system. The old system was most hated amongst the team and would have allowed for a great welcome of Project Server. Due to project managers leaving, the impact on behaviour is lessened; however a lot of knowledge and experience was lost and this is simply not how change should happen. Some of the project managers did not adapt fast to the change and were only slowly getting to grips with the discipline that is required to run Project Server successfully. Although the implementation was not very successful, the effort that people put into making this work within the tight timeframes should have been recognised. I think change is positive, but motivation and effort from people should not simply be taken for granted and should be recognised in some shape or form.

Conclusion and Personal Learning
This is only a very short report, however the reflection of this change against Lewin’s model and also the article “Why Transformation Efforts Fail” helped me understand how much was going on within this process. We had major organisational changes happening, a new CEO starting as well as a new system implementation. Although at the start the CEO did not understand the history the company and seemed first only cost and shareholder driven, he possibly had a great vision, which yet had to be communicated.

Timing is another aspect to remember, which can make or break the success of a project like capacity availability. Change also takes time, just implementing a software does not mean that people will use it. Especially with completely new systems, only once you start using it, questions or new ideas come up and possibly new initiatives grow.

I fully believe in the capacity of the software. It is ingenious in its ability to manage multiple projects concurrently. Once fully implemented and the possibilities understood, the impact on business is unambiguous; however the leadership I had received made me not want to go the extra mile. Change is mostly positive, but like explained in the lecture change also impacts on people and unfortunately sometimes not all the gelly gets across.
In summary with the changing of the CEO and the altered way in which the project managers were overseen, the implementation of this software caused a dynamic shift in company thought with motivation directed more towards the technology rather than leadership capabilities.