Making Change Stick, Part III

Charles Araujo

In Making Change Stick, Part I, The IT Transformation Institute Founder and CEO Charles Araujo wrote that change management isn't an IT problem or an organizational problem. It's a human problem. In Making Change Stick, Part II, he wrote that executive support is often secured, but not used effectively.

A Governance Model to Drive Change

With the three elements of the team in place, there is one last area of consideration: governance. In many IT organizations, the governance structure is either missing or lacking. This creates a significant dilemma for an organizational change effort. Many teams simply move forward without a governance structure. That’s a mistake that will haunt the program as it matures.

In order for organizational change to stick, it must have the organizational stamp of legitimacy that can only be conveyed through a governance structure. The deliberate and explicit act of senior management “accepting” the changes that are being made and making them the “law of the land” is a critical tool that the team will need to drive and sustain the program. 

There are really two choices. If the IT organization has a well-functioning governance structure that can make rapid decisions, use it. If not, build a temporary, shadow governance structure to support the needs of the program. It doesn’t need to be fancy or complex, but it must enable the program team to make rapid decisions that will stick. This means that senior leadership must convey to this governance structure the full weight of their support.

With this last piece in place, the program team can begin to execute the adoption program with the full confidence that the groundwork has been laid to create lasting change within the organization.

Investing in Change

Nick’s Pizza and Pub in Chicago is not the type of place that IT professionals would typically look to for inspiration.

But maybe you should.

Nick Sarillo, the company’s founder and CEO, set out to do something very different in the world of pizza restaurants – he wanted to create a unique corporate culture that would drive flexibility and productivity to make his pizza business thrive through good times or bad. Given that his employee base was made up largely of the young and untrained, this was a somewhat audacious goal. The results, however, speak for themselves.

In an industry with notoriously high employee turnover and low margins, Nick’s Pizza and Pub has changed the game. Their turnover rate is ten times lower than the industry average and their profits are more than double. Perhaps more impressive, his customers just love the place. They come in throngs, spend more per transaction and on several occasions have left massive tips. How does he do it?

The simple answer is that he invests in his culture.

Whereas most of his peers invest an almost non-existent amount of time training new employees, Nick’s Pizza and Pub invests heavily. A new employee:

  • Participates in a 2-day orientation to educate them about the organization’s culture, purpose and values
  • Participates in role playing scenarios to model the desired behavior
  • Participates in an initial 4-hour training session on general “pizza making skills”
  • Receives on-going, job-specific training during the first 2-4 weeks
  • Needs to be “certified” in a job before they are permitted to do it

Remembering that the jobs in question are “making salad” or “preparing sandwiches” or “pizza making,” this is a pretty remarkable investment. But the results are plain. As the company invests in them, the employees invest back, becoming reliable, energetic team members. The company also realized, however, that a structure is needed to sustain the culture, so they have also developed a “trainer” program to create a team of people whose entire job is to build upon and sustain the culture.

The “trainers” go through another battery of education to ensure that they can successfully model and extend the culture. This includes:

  • Becoming “master” certified
  • Reading the book, “Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment”
  • A 3-day course on Communication and Leadership
  • Completing a “passport,” which involves modeling or observing 30 specific behaviors indicative of their culture

That’s quite an investment. But it’s what is required if you want to effect a lasting organizational change. Compare this level of investment with the normal approach taken in ITSM adoption efforts:


The people affected by the changes being implemented are barely even identifiable in this process. At the end, they get some training and somehow it’s expected that their behavior is going to change. 

It just doesn’t work that way. 

To successfully create lasting organizational and behavioral change, you must invest intelligently in driving that change. To do this, you need to incorporate four key elements into your transformational strategy: Awareness, Involvement, Understanding and Adoption.

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