icm2re logo. icm2:re (I Changed My Mind Reviewing Everything) is an 

ongoing web column  by Brunella Longo

This column deals with some aspects of change management processes experienced almost in any industry impacted by the digital revolution: how to select, create, gather, manage, interpret, share data and information either because of internal and usually incremental scope - such learning, educational and re-engineering processes - or because of external forces, like mergers and acquisitions, restructuring goals, new regulations or disruptive technologies.

The title - I Changed My Mind Reviewing Everything - is a tribute to authors and scientists from different disciplinary fields that have illuminated my understanding of intentional change and decision making processes during the last thirty years, explaining how we think - or how we think about the way we think. The logo is a bit of a divertissement, from the latin divertere that means turn in separate ways.

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Watch that change that changes anything!

About managing interdependencies through a collaborative scheduling policy

How to cite this article?
Longo, Brunella (2014). Watch that change that changes anything! About managing interdependencies through a collaborative scheduling policy. icm2re [I Changed my Mind Reviewing Everything ISSN 2059-688X (Print)], 3.3 (March).

How to cite this article?
Longo, Brunella (2014). Watch that change that changes anything! About managing interdependencies through a collaborative scheduling policy. icm2re [I Changed my Mind Reviewing Everything ISSN 2059-688X (Online)], 3.3 (March).

London - 3 April 2014- Change management has become one of the most biased notion in project management, since it has been reduced to a process (configuration management, in Prince2) that is now identified by many with an efficient and creative use of … software dashboards.

Problem is that change management is the label often given to the implementation of additional "tick the boxes" layers of data policies and governance - an example I came across of such mechanic idea of change is the "out of home calories labelling" policy that led the Department of Health a couple of years ago to publicise some ridiculous, culturally clashing, "tips to italian restaurants".

The point is that data acquired, manipulated and reconfigured in a matter of seconds using information and communications technologies can give people the instant illusions of change. Traditionally, configuration management, as a controlled process, has brought a successful, rational and obvious reductionism of complexity in some industries (for example, automotive or aviation), whereas in others (education or financial services, for example) has shown all the weaknesses of superficial policies applied to secondary and tertiary information (data that refer to other data, like events, people, organisations, processes, facts or not better classified "stuff”).

Within immaterial (informational) markets, change occurs by default but change management, as a controlled process, can be more difficult and slower to achieve than in traditional brick and mortars contexts. This is because many feel the freedom to not abide by complicated laws and regulations, and to tolerate even unfair competition practices for the sake of immediate rewards.

Briberies and corruption can be part of "informal governance" agreements in the digital supply chain, along which what one would consider a crime is another's distinctive sign of technical excellence - for example, insider trading that is seen by financial professionals as "quasi-legal" and normative (1).

As I mentioned above, I came to such considerations - and more about substantial innovations in policy making and in the realm of "name only" compliance processes - reviewing a quite dull and operational, but very nice case history for my 99 STARS book, that is in Chapter TASK 14.

And here is how it looks in the draft:

 
SITUATION:   Delivery of a training programme both face to face in a classroom equipped

 with computer and internet connections and online, with multiple classes and potentially 

conflictual schedules. The services were booked and often paid in full up to six months 

in advance by customers operating  within  a wide range of contexts and having diverse 

type of requirements (corporate clients, public sector clients, small businesses, individuals).

 

TASK:  I had to find a reliable and consensual way to prevent disruptions to scheduled, sold and

 agreed courses due to last minute cancellations of attendance and other changes in the 

availability of both participants and team members - plus other possible reasons of extreme 

fluctuations, such as technical problems depending on providers and suppliers.



ACTION:   In order to reduce the complexity of the scheduling and resourcing tasks I defined 

a policy that put in place some general rules, very simple to communicate and to agree with team

 members as well as with actual and potential customers so that certain activities and their 

interdependencies were consensually baselined. In this way we were able to identify variance risks

 well in advance and to proactively funnel customers and team members to alternative schedules.  

 

RESULTS:   Such structured approach constantly shared with all team members and carefully communicated 

to  customers  assured a robust and reliable way to manage other risks and uncertainties 

impacting  the schedule, in a sustainable way.   



 

It was nothing so easy and fast, after all. Instead it was difficult, and required lot of talks, and it was risky as well.

Without a strategy, change is often instrumental to very short sighted or even dodgy initiatives. Instead of jumping on the first opportunity to try something ‘new’, executives and project managers should be often reminded they can try to challenge the assumptions and scope of their collaborative efforts and improve existing communication processes.

Before agreeing and consensually baseline whatever, we have to define what we do not tolerate in terms of principles and behaviours, what types of operations on the data will not be acceptable no matter how easy or difficult, profitable or beautiful, social or opportunistic, fast and influential they may seem.

If we can work together on the grounds of reciprocal needs, rights and common principles of "data hygiene" then it makes sense to have a collaborative scheduling activity. Otherwise, I am not going to change my diary. After all, I come from a culture that really does not need to be told any "tips for healthier food".

(1) Les paradoxes de l'economie informelle: a qui profitent les regles? / sous la direction de Laurence Fontaine et Florence Weber. - Paris, Editions Karthala, 2011.