Posted by: Christian Verstraete | December 7, 2009

Resistance to Change


We regularly hear about resistance to change and how this limits companies ability to innovate. Rarely we experience it directly. Today, I was confronted to it, and pretty directly.

I was presenting on how Cloud Computing could be used in the Manufacturing industry, giving a pretty balanced view of what cloud could do and what potential pitfalls needed to be avoided. I have been doing these presentations for the last six months, updating them regularly to ensure I am always in synch with the latest status of affairs. It’s actually quite a work as the space keeps moving pretty fast.

After my initial slides describing the problem cloud tries to address, and the description of the US federal government definition I tend to use, I moved on describing what works (elasticity, provisioning, location independence) and where the jury is still out (security, data protection, service availability, SLA). That’s where the questions started to fly. E-mail information is more confidential than ERP, so why would you want tom put it in the cloud? European privacy laws limits the possibility of using Salesforce.com. I did not keep track of all the questions, but, although each of them was very relevant in its own right and worth a discussion, they all went in the same direction.

I got confirmation of my suspicion when, after the meeting, our key sponsor asked us to help him getting the IT management on board.

Like in many companies, top management understands IT needs to transform itself. The business people are expecting more from IT. But the IT people are afraid for their job, they fear getting outsourced. I told our sponsor something very simple. If you feel a change is imminent, make sure you are part of the team that plans it, at least you can plan a role for yourself in the new model. If you just keep resisting, you will definitely be part of the team that will be let go, or, to use a venture capitalist term, will be value captured. To me, this sounds like good judgement, I am just astonished it’s not more widely understood. How do you feel about it?

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