Sustaining the Change

Sustaining the Change

This simple quote of 12 words is the foundation of all change management efforts. You, as the leader, must be the change that you want your team to adopt. People believe what they see. Words will not enable a team to change; your action will.   

Looking back over our series on change, you will see a consistent theme. Change is about people. Technology and process may enable or support change, but that is all. Change starts and ends with changing the mindset and attitude of your people. Change does not happen just because you planted it. It needs nurturing from you.  

People will change their mindsets only if they can see that it matters and that they can fundamentally agree with it. They don’t need to be in full agreement, but they do need to agree enough to trust you and give it a try. The surrounding infrastructures (i.e., recognition and reward systems, process improvement or simplification, organization model) must be in place to support the change. The people must have the skills and capabilities to do what the change requires. Last but not least, the people must respect those modeling the change – that would be you.   

Let’s look at each of these areas a little deeper.  

The change matters and they believe in it. 

Studies have shown that if people believe in the overall purpose behind the change, they will change their behavior to match that purpose. To feel comfortable with the change, they must understand their role. To be enthusiastic about the change, they must understand how their actions impact the outcome of the change. This requires that you, as the leader, take the time to build their story in terms that they will trust and believe in. I say their story as it must be more than how it will affect the organization’s profit margin. The story is only effective if it portrays their role in delivering services to the external consumer. The more you can communicate how they make a difference, the more it matters. This is human nature. We all want to feel and believe that our actions make a difference.    

The change is rewarded and recognized.  

Rewards and conversely punishment systems alone do not sustain change. Sorry about that. Wouldn’t it be easy if it did! Reward systems provide value initially. After a relatively short time, the employee will lose sight of the reward if the other three areas are ignored. Organizational designers have found that reporting structures, management, operational processes, and measurement procedures (i.e., setting targets, measuring performance, granting financial and non-financial rewards) must be consistent with the behaviors that people are being asked to embrace.   

Again, that is you, the leader. For example, if the manager is required to spend time coaching an employee through a change, but coaching is not included in their performance management scorecard, they most likely won’t bother.  Reflect to “be the change you wish to see.”  

The right skills are in the right place. 

Sometimes, many times, a transformational change asks the employee to act differently without preparing or teaching them how. How might require a change in instruction or practice. The how might require picking up a new responsibility with a new skill. You may be asking them to be customercentric when they don’t know who the customer is or what “centric” means to them.  It is up to you to assure they are prepared 

Change is most effective when an impact assessment with a mitigation plan is performed before the change is announced. This assessment will identify the staff impacted, the change management requirements, training, and the coaching needed down to the individual team member level. Change takes time and is best offered in small chunks of learning. Without the assessment, you are entering a maze without light and just feeling your way through it.  

There is a strong role model to follow. 

That is you, the leader. People believe what they see. Role models are not only the individual’s manager but consist of the executive team all of the way up to the CEO/President. In some dramatic transformational changes, the board of directors is also included. During a time of change, every word you say and every action you take is analyzed and scrutinized for meaning. It can be daunting. What you do is less important than how you do it.    

If cost containment is a corporate mantra, actions at the senior rank may appear frivolous by the people. Let me give you a simple example. A global organization recognized that its cost structure was well out of line with a company of their size. An assessment revealed that general administration costs where four times that of their peers. A policy was put in place to immediately eliminate all non-essential travel, catered lunch, and entertainment. The exception to the rule was the box seats at the local arena. The employees questioned why this spend would be allowed. What they did not understand was that the box seats were a fixed spend under a multi-year contract. The executive leaders could have continued to use the box seats for client entertainment. They did not. Instead, they used the seats for incentives through raffles and team building exercises.  

Behavior is not only modeled at the individual level but by affiliation groups as well. Let’s say that an IT Leader is taking action to simplify a process and leading by example, the mantra of change. If groups of longterm employees spend their time around the coffee pot complaining that this too shall pass, individuals will not feel the need or pressure to change.  

Here is where you come in. If you can buy into the concept that a successful change program starts and ends with the people, you should be able to buy into the reliance change has on the story behind the change. The consistency of the story must permeate from the executive leaders down to every employee. The messaging cannot be a few posters on the wall or a PowerPoint reflecting bullets. The message must be delivered consistently in the form of a dialogue with built-in two-way communication.   

A change leader will recognize feedback and course correct on the fly. It isn’t as artsy as it sounds, but it does require active listening, questioning in a non-threatening way, and truly demonstrating belief in the change they wish to live. Change is hard. Realizing the outcome of change is a beautiful thing.   

This concludes our discussion on change.  As we wrap up, I welcome your feedback, questions, and comments.     

Until next time, have a great week!  Wishing you a Happy and safe Fourth of July with your family and friends.   


ITeffectivity LLC was founded in 2013 with the mission of helping IT Leaders bring order to their ever-changing world.  Since then, Mary has advised over 80 leaders as well on behalf of Fortune 100 firms to small non-profits.  

Mary Patry
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach  
 480.393.0722 (AZ)

Let’s Talk sponsored by an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry. 

Know Your Customer

Know Your Customer

Welcome back to our conversation, focusing on Change Leadership.  We return to discussing the corporate change.  This is the third and last post from my dear friend and colleague Karen Davey-Winter.  

In our first conversation with Karen, we learned that as leaders of change we must understand and navigate (at least) three dimensions of change – our approach and reaction to change, how to lead our teams through change, and how to help the people we impact with our changes (e.g., customers, end users). This last conversation with Karen will focus on how to help engage customers to make the change more successful. Now, I am handing the “mic” over to Karen. 

“If you haven’t yet read ‘Switch,’ I highly recommend it. Some of the ideas in this newsletter are loosely based on some of the concepts in the book. Instead of the Elephant, the Rider and the Path, though, I’m going to suggest that we think about changing using the following three dimensions – Information, Emotion, and Direction. All three need to be covered to successfully engage a group of stakeholders. 


One of the key things that people need to understand before they can engage in a change is the logic behind it, the reasoning, and the analysis of why it’s important. As leaders, it’s important to provide the business case and what problem is being fixed, but also, and perhaps most importantly, a vision of what the future will look like when the change is complete. As we all know, though, the devil is in the details. So, it’s really important to not only provide a vision but also to provide enough clarity about the details of the change to reduce people’s anxiety. If I’m implementing, for example, a new lab system in a hospital, I might want to know why this will help the lab be more efficient, how it will save the hospital money, how that money will be used to improve other areas, and so on. However, providing logical information about why a change is important and necessary on its own is not enough. 


The second component of making change successful is based on how to appeal to people from a motivational perspective. This is about making change a matter of identity, not just of consequence. If I’m a lab tech, and I see a new system being implemented, what kind of lab technician do I want to be? What would a lab technician like me do in this situation? If as leaders, we can understand how to harness people’s motivation and values, we can make appealing changes and reduce the resistance and anxiety that so often accompany any kind of change project. If we combine this with finding a way to make change manageable, we’re on our way to improved stakeholder engagement. Now, we’ve provided the logical reason for the change, and we’ve also appealed to people’s motivation. On their own, these two components are still not enough. 


The final component of how to engage customers in change is to provide the direction or the path. The change must be seen as making life easier. Otherwise, there will be resistance, and if implementing a new lab system just makes life more complicated, and the new tools and procedures seem onerous, then the success of the change is in jeopardy. One way to help customers see that the change will make their lives easier is to engage them early in the planning process, have them collaborate to develop the detailed work procedures, set up checklists to track the items and develop diagrams so that they can see the impact. Once they engage in reducing the complexity of the change, they will not only see that it’s not going to be as bad as they expected, but they will also buy into a process that they helped define. 

So, for all of you that lead projects that cause your customers to feel that a change is being done to them,’ see if you can frame your engagement activities using the model above. Also, remember the 20-60-20 rule – 20% of people will get on board immediately and not need to be persuaded; 60% will be on the fence until they understand the impact of the change and see how leaders help them through it; 20% will never get on board. If you spend most of your energy engaging that 60%, your chances of a successful change initiative are drastically increased. Let me know how it goes! 

Back to Mary 

Thank you, Karen, for your perspective. You can learn more about Karen at 

Let’s recap. Karen addressed three dimensions of change – inform, emotion (resistance) and direction. Informing team members of the facts and expected impacts is not for the meek. It is too easy to brush off the impacts with the hope that the details will work themselves out. They won’t. At the same time, it is impossible to analyze and predict all possible impacts. It is okay to simply say you don’t know. It is okay to say you can’t share or show vulnerability with transparency. It is not okay to pretend you don’t know or simply tell a lie.  

Emotion is very personal. You are not expected to know absolutely for sure how everyone will accept the change. There are too many variables. For example, let’s say that change calls for outsourcing infrastructure management. From a customer perspective, some will see it as an opportunity to cut costs and improve service. Some customers will see it as risk based on prior experience. No one will be 100% comfortable. It is our job as leaders to seek and listen to the business’s concerns and address each of them respectfully with a mitigation plan for the business impacting risks. The customer will be more excepting of the change when they have confidence in your ability to manage the outcome and be their advocate.  

To be informed of a change is one thing, feeling a part of the direction is a much stronger emotion. Engaging the customer in the change goes a long way to reduce or eliminate the “what are they doing to me” emotion. As you can see, none of these dimensions stand alone.   

Until next time, have an effective week!  Next week we will close out our change leadership discussion by focusing on sustaining change.  

Until then, have a great week! 


ITeffectivity LLC was founded in 2013 with the mission of helping IT Leaders bring order to their ever-changing world.  Since then, Mary has advised over 80 leaders as well on behalf of Fortune 100 firms to small non-profits.  

Mary Patry
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach  
 480.393.0722 (AZ)

Let’s Talk sponsored by an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry. 

Know your team

Know your team

Welcome back to our conversation, focusing on Change Leadership.   

In our last conversation, we learned from Karen Davey-Winter about how leaders are also changing leaders and that there are (at least) three dimensions of change that must be understood and navigated – our approach and reaction to change, how to lead our teams through change, and how to help the people we impact with our changes (e.g., customers, ends users). Karen will continue the conversation this week by focusing on the changes that teams go through as they evolve, and how we can lead them through that change.  

Take it away, Karen! 

“So how can we look at this challenge? Many of you probably know Bruce Tuckman’s theory of group development – forming, storming, norming, and performing. If we want our teams to become high performing teams, we need to understand these phases and the role that we play in moving the team through them. 


In this phase, the team is coming together, a collection of individuals with a range of skill sets, perspectives, and interests. People are cautious and concerned about being accepted by the group. Our role as leaders is to bring the team together, help them gain an understanding of each other, and the goals of the work that they are there to complete. It’s critical to be able to articulate a vision, where they fit into that vision, and how their contribution connects to the overall goal. Leaders need to be very visible, able to clearly state the purpose of the work, and show the team how to align to meet the goals. 


As the team moves into this phase, team members start to become more comfortable with one another, and their fear of rejection by the group has largely diminished. This is where conflict starts as different views, ideas and perspectives are exchanged to determine how to deliver on the goals and priorities. The leader has a critical role in establishing an environment in which conflict can be navigated and resolved. Conflict is crucial to creativity and, somewhat counter intuitively; it’s also critical for gaining consensus. Establishing an environment and ground rules for navigating conflict will allow it to be seen as ‘healthy debate’ rather than something that is a roadblock to progress. Unless a team moves through the Storming phase, it won’t become a high performing team, and without strong leadership, many teams get stuck in this phase. 


Once a team has successfully moved through the storming phase, they can start norming, and this is where real progress starts to be made. Instead of individuals working independently or in conflict, the team gels, work is delivered, progress is made, and collaboration is high. People understand their role and the contribution they are making. As leaders, it is still important to reinforce the goals and vision of the work and provide clear direction, but the leader can now take a more individualized approach to leadership. Rather than being directive the majority of the time, the leader can look at the situation and the people and see what they need, providing support and empowerment. 


If you’ve ever worked in a high performing team, you know how this last phase feels. It’s like you’re in a groove, there is flow, you’re almost at the point where you’re finishing each other’s sentences! It’s not that there’s no conflict, but the team moves through it with ease. It’s not that you don’t have to provide direction, but that you have to do it less often because the goals of the work and the ways things get done are established.  

So, for all of you that lead any kind of change initiative, or teams that are newly forming, notice what stage your teams are in and how you are showing up as a leader. A small adjustment in style can have a dramatic impact on your team, as can an acknowledgment that the team is going through some changes, and that change is sometimes hard. 

Back to Mary 

Karen, thank you for your perspective. You can enjoy a more detailed view into Karen’s perspective at this link: 

Karen Davey-Winter, PMP, ACC, Executive Coach/Management Consultant, 

As I listen and reflect on Karen’s message, I am reminded of the many teams I’ve had the pleasure of building, leading, and working with over the years. The journey through storming, forming, norming and performing is not always linear. You can be riding on a perfectly calm sea under a beautiful blue sky and not see the storm brewing in the background. The complexity of the initiative, the scope of impact, introduction of new requirements, change in team members, or technical challenges along with additional factors such as the volatility of the organization creates the potential of returning to storming even while performing.  An uncontrolled return to storming can be very harmful if it results in a team crash. A team crash is when the conflict and debate within the team is no longer effective or productive. You will recognize it by in-fighting, “sides” forming, unproductive dialogue, slipped deadlines, and in the worst of cases team members shutting down or resigning. All in all, it is a most unfortunate state. I cannot recall ever seeing a team crash recover on its own. The longer you allow it to go on the harder it is to recover.  

As leaders, we best serve the team when we keep an eye on all aspects of the operations and temperature to prevent a team crash. If one does slip by, you must dive in headfirst to discover root cause and resolve it immediately. If you’ve been there or you are there and need help with your specific circumstances, please reach out to discuss techniques for identifying root cause and tackling recovery. 

Next week we will continue with our change leadership discussion by focusing on our customer. 

Until next time, have a great week! 


ITeffectivity LLC was founded in 2013 with the mission of helping IT Leaders bring order to their ever-changing world.  Since then, Mary has advised over 80 leaders as well on behalf of Fortune 100 firms to small non-profits.  

Mary Patry
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach  
 480.393.0722 (AZ)

Let’s Talk sponsored by an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry. 

To Change Your World, Change Yourself

To Change Your World, Change Yourself


Last week in our conversation on Change Leadership, we looked at the change curve and the cycle of emotions one goes through during times of change in an organization. This week we will switch gears a bit and discuss the role of the leader in change. We will start with an uncomfortable place for many leaders, and that is looking at yourself first. We need to examine ourselves closely. 

Tolstoy points out to us: If you want to change the world, it all starts with changing yourself.   

You can’t expect to positively influence others if you cannot find a way to accept change yourself. As the leader, change starts with you. Once you master yourself and your emotions, you can attempt to help others. It’s up to you to invest in your personal growth first. 

In support of this critical conversation, I looked at myself and understood the need to seek expertise on the topic. My dear friend and trusted colleague, Karen Davey-Winter, will jump in and share her perspective of Change Leadership, starting with knowing yourself. 

“There is so much change in our lives today that it’s hard to be an effective leader unless we have some degree of understanding and awareness of our reactions to change. If we understand ourselves better and acknowledge that others might react differently, we have a starting point for enhancing our leadership skills. This results in an increased likelihood that the change has a chance of success. 

How many of you know your temperament type? Temperament is a derivation of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which is one of my favorite tools for enhancing self-awareness. I’m going to use this lens to demonstrate how different our approaches to change can be. If you don’t know your Myers Briggs type, look for the description that sounds most like you, and then read the others and see if it helps explain any resistance you might be coming up against when you’re trying to implement changes! 


Idealists (INFJ, ENFJ, INFP, ENFP) – Change, to whom? 

For Idealists change is very personal. Their motto is ‘I’m an NF, and I’m here to help’ and so when change happens, it must support their value system. They need it to be meaningful, and they want to know who will be impacted. They want to help manage the people impact of change, and their focus is the organizational atmosphere. 


Rationalists (INTJ, ENTJ, INTP, ENTP) – Change, why? 

For Rationalists change allows them to use their analytical abilities. Their motto is ‘why?’ and so change must come with an opportunity for task mastery. They need to see the logical reasons for change as well as a strategy and a path forward. If change seems illogical, unreasonable or unfair, they will resist it, although in general Rationalists (and Idealists) are the types that seek out change and embrace it, even if others think that it may not be necessary. 


Guardians (ISTJ, ESTJ, ISFJ, ESFJ) Change, how? 

Guardians need to know how the change will take place, the rationale behind it, and the benefits. Their motto is ‘don’t change what isn’t broken,’ and change must bring an opportunity to preserve what works well in the current environment. They prefer incremental change, anchored in current realities. A sense of belonging must be generated and preserved throughout the change cycle. They want to know what the plan is, and the step by step instructions to get to the goal. 


Artisans (ISTP, ESTP, ISFP, ESFP)Change, what? 

Artisans are all about action. “Just do it was a phrase probably created by an Artisan. Their motto is ‘if all else fails, read the directions!’ and they need to be involved in the change right from the start. They need to be where the action is, and they like the flexibility to be designed into the change. They want to know exactly what the change is and how they can get involved, now! 

As you read the above, consider what resonates most with you, and what seems most alien. If you can’t imagine a change needing to be about action, you might have the biggest challenges leading artisans; if it didn’t occur to you that some people are more concerned with the people than the bottom line ROI of the change, the chances are that you will need to adjust your leadership style to deal with Idealists. Regardless, know thyself is a good foundation from which to lead the changes in your organization!” - Karen Davey-Winter, an Executive Coach, Consultant, Facilitator, Author, Speaker and Soccer Mom (and a really good person and friend)    

Thank you, Karen. You can read more about Karen at 

I know from my work with Karen that I am an idealist. I know from my Myers-Briggs work that Idealists tend to come by their best ideas through a combination of intuition and feeling so we may have difficulty explaining how we reached our conclusions. We may become frustrated or even insulted when others fail to share our enthusiasm and instead want an explanation of the reasoning behind our thoughts. We must work hard to step back and bring others along to our state of mind. Especially since inspiration is not a conscious process, the Idealist may not have an immediate explanation, even though their reasoning is sound, and so may feel dismissed and undervalued. I share this intimate perspective to demonstrate the power of understanding yourself. 

Karen shared a very broad perspective of the effect that your personality traits may have on your change leadership style. As a followup, she agreed to share two additional conversations in the weeks to come:  Know your Team and Know your Customer.   

For more information on applying Meyer’s Briggs to change management and team development, please contact Karen directly. I can attest to her skills and capabilities as I have reaped the rewards of them during a very large transformation program.   

Until next time, have a great week! 


ITeffectivity LLC was founded in 2013 with the mission of helping IT Leaders bring order to their everchanging world.  Since then, Mary has advised over 80 leaders as well on behalf of Fortune 100 firms to small non-profits.  

Mary Patry
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach  
 480.393.0722 (AZ)

Let’s Talk sponsored by an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry. 

Change Rollercoaster

Change Rollercoaster

Let me start with the caveat that I do not hold a degree in organizational change management or tout that I am an expert in change management. My perspectives on change management are based on 40 years of observing and living with team members and organizations in times of change. 

 My change leadership skills have developed through trial and error, reading, and learning. I can’t explain the psychology or science behind the human reaction to change; I can only tell you how it has felt. I guess you can say that I come out of the school of practical learning. 

With that out of the way, I am going to give you my perspective of why change is hard. 

The ability of an organization to change starts with people. Organizations don’t change; people do. You cannot make people change; you can lead people through change. Organizational change depends on the culture and mindset of the individuals that make up the organization. If we don’t start with an understanding of the impact of change on the individual, we can’t affect the change being sought for the organization. I guess I have made my point clear – it is all about the people. 

 Change is hard because we don’t know for sure what will happen. We don’t see how it will impact us. We don’t know if we will like the outcome or if we can adapt. We feel out of control. Change means stepping out of our comfort zone into the unknown. Even if we don’t like our current state, the unknown future state is frightening. 

If you can buy into the premise that change starts with people, then let us examine the emotions behind change using the Kubler-Ross Change Curve. This Change Curve is based on a model initially developed in the 1960s by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross to explain the grieving process. The curve and its associated emotions can be used to forecast how performance may be affected by the announcement of a significant change. 

I say “may be” because everyone deals with change differently. We are most effective as leaders of change when we are aware of and sensitive to an organization’s change culture and the people we serve. Let’s look at the curve.

The five major stages of grief Kubler-Ross wrote about are:

  1. Denial 
  2. Anger 
  3. Bargaining 
  4. Depression 
  5. Acceptance 

When Kubler-Ross wrote about these stages, she was cautious to explain that these are normal reactions we have to tragic news. She called them defense mechanisms or coping mechanisms. This is precisely what they are when we apply the model to cope with change.

No one moves through the stages one at a time or in a step by step manner. There is no right or wrong way or a race to rush through it. Sometimes, we will feel like we are moving forward only to hit a disappointment or a reality that pushes us back again. Kubler-Ross said the stages can last for different periods and will replace each other or exist side by side at times. In many ways, the change curve is more like a roller coaster.

It would be wonderful to think that through planning and execution, we can reach a place of acceptance in a prescribed manner. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way. Some people get stuck in one of the stages and find that they need extra help to move on.

Let’s examine how people react in each of the five stages.

Denial (or Shock)

“This isn’t happening to me; I am a top performer!” 

“No way! What are they thinking?” 

“There must be a mistake!”

 “I can’t believe it.”

Denial is usually a temporary state that gives us time to absorb the news and impact of the change. It is the initial reaction to the impact of the change. Our mind refuses to believe that the change is happening or that it is affecting us. Our natural reaction is to deny that the change is happening. Maybe if we pretend that it is not happening it will go away – like an ostrich sticking its head in the sand.


“Why me? It’s not fair!” 

“NO! I can’t accept this!”

As the numbness wears off and the shock abates, we start to accept that the change is real and our denial most often turns to anger. When we are angry, we look to blame someone or something for doing this to us.

Anger manifests itself in many ways. Some people direct their anger at their boss, their peers, their families, themselves or even God. If the economy is bad, they may blame it on the economy. They will blame top management for making poor decisions. They may blame the government for political decisions leading to the current state. Unfortunately, the brunt of the anger is often directed towards family and close friends in the form of finding fault at the most minor of things. Overall, the anger phase is ugly.


“No matter what I try, it fails.”
“Why bother, I am not in control?”
“What’s the point, nothing works out for me anyway?”

When we realize that bargaining is not going to work, the reality of the change sets in. We become aware of the losses associated with the change, and what we must leave behind. This has the potential to move people towards a sad state. They may feel down and depressed and have low energy.

The depression stage is often noticeable in other ways within the workplace. People dealing with change at work may reach a point of feeling so demotivated that they just shut down. I experienced employees at a non-profit who stopped giving their best when they felt their jobs were at risk and that their employer no longer cared. One indication of the depressive state is an increase in absenteeism as people use sick leave, arrive late, leave early, and take ‘mental health’ days.


“I need to get my son out of college, can I take a lesser role to stretch out the impact a couple of years?”

 “Can I move to another division? I will do anything!?”

We start bargaining to put off the change or find a way out of the situation. Most of these bargains are secret deals with God, others, or life, where we say, “If I promise to do this, then the change will not happen to me.” In a work situation, someone might work harder. As we move through realizing that the change is here to stay, we reach out to friends and colleagues to search for answers. Having a place to discuss your fears has proven to be critical to moving into the acceptance phase.


“Maybe this is not so bad after all.”

“I’ve wanted to make a change anyway.” 

“Now is the time to try my hand at building my own business.” 

“I can’t fight it; I may as well prepare for it.”

As people realize that denial, anger, and bargaining are not going to make it all go away, they move into acceptance. Acceptance is not always a happy state. It is most often a resigned attitude towards the change and the realization that one must get on with life. This can be a creative space which forces people to explore and look for new possibilities. New opportunities are explored. People learn a lot about themselves, their friends, and their loved ones. Relationships are built.

In many cases, acceptance builds the belief that something positive will come out of the change. It can be as simple as a renewed confidence in oneself to full–blown life changes. Even in the most difficult circumstances, there is an opportunity for growth and learning and there will be an end to the change.

Integration – the optimum outcome

“How do I demonstrate the ability to do my job this new way.” 

“What barriers may inhibit me from being the best that I can be?”
“How can I help others adapt?”

I’ve taken the license to add a phase to the concept – Integration.

Successful change management results from integrating an outcome-oriented individual change management approach and an activity-oriented organizational change management approach. By aligning what we are trying to achieve with what we are doing, good change management methodology, which manages the people side of change, provides the structure and tools necessary to drive project results and outcomes. In the end, since the individual is truly the unit of change, successful change management must leverage an individual change management model and an organizational change management approach. You know you have made it when the individuals are talking the talk and walking the walk.

In closing

Kubler-Ross reminds us that we cycle between these stages, multiple times. One day you will feel on top of your game, and the next day, something will set you back into depression or anger. This is very normal, that is why it is called a cycle. The danger is when an individual cannot move.

When you use this model in your change management plan, you will find that most people will recognize the stage they are in and the stages they have been in. It’s also a huge relief to know that these reactions and feelings are normal and are not signs of weakness.

The Kubler-Ross model is also beneficial to identify and understand how other people are dealing with change. People immediately get a better sense of their reactions and why colleagues are behaving in a particular way.

Not everyone agrees that this model is useful. Its main criticism is that the five stages do not adequately describe the range of emotions that people experience. It is said that it makes too many assumptions when applying it and that not everyone experiences the same reactions and emotions. The model is often criticized for making assumptions about broad applicability. To be fair, the preface to “On Death and Dying” recognizes this and notes that these are generalized reactions. It is quite acceptable for people to name each stage a different name according to their reaction. The point is that there is a cycle for dealing with change no matter what it looks like to you.

I find this model simple enough that it makes it useful to use and easy to understand. More importantly, it is easy to see in yourself and others around you.

Change happens to all of us. How we react is within our control. In my research, I came across a quote by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross:

“I believe that we are solely responsible for our choices, and we have to accept the consequences of every deed, word, and thought throughout our lifetime.” - Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

I agree that at the end of the day, each person is responsible for their choices and how they deal with change. At the same time, in the case of organizational impacting changes, the leader has a strong responsibility and a key role in enabling migration from denial to acceptance.

We will continue the conversation on Change next week.  Until then, have a great week!


ITeffectivity LLC was founded in 2013 with the mission of helping IT Leaders bring order to their ever-changing world. Since then, Mary has advised over 80 leaders on behalf of Fortune 100 firms to small non-profits. 

Mary Patry
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach  
 480.393.0722 (AZ)

Let’s Talk sponsored by an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry. 

Change Happens

Change Happens

Change is all around us. It happens every day to everyone. 

Some people are more comfortable with change than others. Many struggle with it. Nevertheless, it happens, and it is happening a lot these days, especially in business. Business climates are demanding disruptive and transformative change to meet the growth and innovation challenges they face. Although change is a good thing, it is also a stressful thing.  

Okay, what has that got to do with IT? 

IT is often, maybe always, the downstream recipient of business change drivers. Business drivers push for systems changes which IT is asked to produce. Most of the time, the changes IT makes in response to business drivers and strategy are disruptive to the employees of the organization. Can you see the cycle? 

IT people are people first, technicians later. Changes dictated by the business such as restructuring, acquisitions, and reductions in force just plain hurt. That hurt leads to non-productive behaviors and poor performance. What some may not realize is that often IT is informed of these changes before the rest of the organization due to the need to make broad systemic changes to support them.  Many times, they have to execute on these changes without the benefit of public forums or discussions. This cycle leaves IT wondering without the benefits of asking – “How will this change impact me?”, “Will I have a job?”, “What about my friends?”  

Planned systems changes are just as disruptive to the business community. Have you noticed how the love for an old system grows (despite years of complaints) when faced with the prospect of it being replaced for new one? The devil you know is always perceived as better than the devil you don’t. As IT leaders, we owe it to the business to manage through these changes. 

It is an interesting challenge from an IT leader perspective. A challenge that needs to be managed on multiple fronts. 

Change management is a term that is bantered around freely. Sometimes it is blamed for poor performance – “The project failed because we did not focus on change management.”  Sometimes it is used as an excuse for not supporting a direction – “The risk of that process revision is not worth the change management effort.”    

Theories behind change management are quite complex, draw from many disciplines and sciences, and are probably better left to the experts. I am sure you are all relieved that I am not going to talk psychology and behavioral sciences with you! 

I do want to share my perspective of the underlying impact of change. Change does not happen in isolation; it impacts the whole organization. 

The first step in leading through change is to understand and address how people are impacted.  People impacted by change go through an emotional curve from shock to depression to acceptance and commitment.  

The change curve model is based on a model originally developed in the mid-1960’s by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross to illustrate how people deal with grief. It is easy to relate to the model. When I look at the model, it brings back the same emotions I have experienced during major change or loss. 

As I stated earlier, individuals deal with change differently. Some go through it quickly, while others take much longer. The challenge for leadership is to help people through their own change curve by understanding what phase they are in, and what support tools they need to transition and embrace the new change. 

With that being said, we will be starting a new series of conversations on change management. I am not an expert on the science and discipline sides. Therefore, I will be reaching out to several of my respected friends and colleagues to help us out here. If I can’t beg or bribe them, I will wing it with my opinion. 

I am here if you have questions. 

Until next week!  


ITeffectivity LLC was founded in 2013 with the mission of helping IT Leaders bring order to their ever-changing world. Since then, Mary has advised over 80 leaders on behalf of Fortune 100 firms to small non-profits.  

Mary Patry
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach  
 480.393.0722 (AZ)

Let’s Talk sponsored by an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry.