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To lay the foundation for a successful transformation understand your 3 stakeholder levels


joshuabrusse.jpgBy Joshua Brusse, Chief Architect, Asia Pacific and Japan, HP Software Professional Services


I’ve written before about the importance of managing change—this is what the success of your transformation depends on! And yet, even when leaders recognize that they need to pay attention to managing change, I still see them struggling to lead transformation.


To lay the foundations for a successful IT transformation I advise leaders to start with the concept of stakeholder management. Organizations tend to think about the stakeholders as the senior sponsors: the organizers and the leaders. And then they think about the other people as just other people—not stakeholders. But my view is always that anyone who has a vested interest in the change or is affected by the change is a stakeholder. This approach helps you avoid any exclusions. You just consider that everyone is a stakeholder. And this is the truth: Everyone is affected by change.


The 3 levels of stakeholders

Everyone is a stakeholder, but there are three distinct groups of stakeholders, and you must recognize that each goes through change in its own way. When you are leading change you must consider these three levels:


  • Individuals
  • Teams (virtual and otherwise) and departments
  • The organization

The key to leading successful change is to realize that at each level, stakeholders are going through a change curve. As a leader, your job is to understand and manage these change curves. They are interrelated, and if on the individual level you have people resisting the change and unable to progress, then your teams will not progress, and the organization will start the transformation prematurely. And the transformation will stall.


Change curves and why we resist change

The change curve as a concept dates to the 1960s when Elizabeth Kübler-Ross described the five stages of grief that a terminally ill person goes through. The concept made its way to management, and change curves—or pictorial representations of emotions that people go through in the event of significant change—have made their way into business teachings.


And here you might say, “But I’m in IT! The transformation I’m leading has everything to do with modernizing our applications for a hybrid delivery model and nothing to do with all these emotions and psychology!” Yes, IT is not seen as a field where psychology comes into play. Yet people’s reactions to change do involve emotions and psychology. Ignoring these aspects puts your transformation—and ultimately the business results and ROI you hope to achieve—at risk.


Understanding change curves on an individual, team and organizational level enables you to orchestrate the change so that each stakeholder group is moving through its curve at the right time and working together as a whole.


In my next post I’ll write about managing the change curve for individuals.


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Hi Joshua,


I totally agree to your described importance of treating everyone affected by the change as a stakeholder because all the thing which "human" do is anyway based upon the way of how human thinks and feels regardless of whether it's for IT or whatever..., otherwise people cannot realise a great orchestration with good harmony (i.e. organisational activity including the changes that always happens).


Best regards,



John Strijker

In addition to this: for whom is interested in a comprehensible explanation of organizational change and the change curves the story of the pinguins and their melting iceberg by Kotter is very amusing.

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