Ron Schipper Senior Consultant, Van Aetsveld Project and Change management, Amersfoort, the Netherlands Harry Rorije Principal Consultant, Van Aetsveld Project and Change management, Amersfoort, the Netherlands Gilbert Silvius 1 Professor of Business, ICT and Innovation, University of Applied Sciences, Utrecht, the Netherlands Principal Consultant, Van Aetsveld Project and Change management, Amersfoort, the Netherlands
Abstract Projects can be seen as a system to realize change in organizations. This change can involve new work processes, new policies, new resources, new products or services, etc. Sustainable change in these policies, processes, products, etc, requires different behavior of the workers or employees of the organization. It is, however, this aspect of change that most projects seem to oversee. In this paper, we will argue that changing or influencing the behavior of an organization’s employees is a crucial element in realizing change. The contemporary insights in human behavior and behavioral change, however, seem to contradict the more mechanical approach to projects that most project management methodologies prescribe. Controlling behavioral change, if possible, may require a different paradigm to projects and organizational change. Our paper will shed some light on this contradictory topic and will provide practical suggestions for the integration of behavioral change aspects in project management. Keywords Project management, Sustainable Change, Management of Change
Introduction Projects can be considered as temporary organizations (Turner and Müller, 2003) that deliver (any kind of) change to organizations, products, services, policies or assets (Gareis, 2010). Successful change most often requires a change of human behavior and therefore is influenced by the motivation to overcome resistance to change (Kotter, 1996). Gareis (2010), however, concludes that this kind of change is not adequately recognized in project management and that “specific change methods are to be applied according to the specific change requirements”. This paper provides an overview and practical suggestions for the integration of behavioral change aspects in both portfolio and project management. The question asked is how to realize sustainable behavioral change (when that is intended with the project)? Many publications (e.g. Boonstra, 2004; Cummings and Worley, 1996) show a managerial perspective on change: behavioral change is something that can be planned and managed top-down. However, this perspective is increasingly being questioned. People are free individuals who decide for themselves to show certain behavior. All attempts made in the past to force members of the organization to behave differently and the rewarding or punishing act on it has never led to sustainable behavioral change. It led to short-term changes with fall-back (Anderson, 2002; Beer 1990; Homan, 2005). This perspective creates this paper’s main question: which circumstances need to be created by project in order to make sustainable behavioral change occur? In this paper we focus on how the ‘forgotten group’ in organizations, the employees, experience change in projects. In the next paragraph will elaborate on what is meant with this ‘forgotten group’. We will then look at change from the perspective of this group. How do employees experience changes? How do they handle changes? When are they effected by change? When do they change their behavior permanently? By practicing this perspective we will gained interesting insights, for example that managing for shorter lead times for projects actually hinders sustainable behavioral change. The paper will be concluded with some recommendations on how to connect with employees and integrate behavioral change into projects and project portfolios.
Corresponding author: Utrecht University of Applied Sciences, Padualaan 101, 3584 CH Utrecht,…