In this case problem solving is a joint undertaking.
Consultants working in this mode apply their special skills to help clients
solve problems; they don’t solve problems for the client. The consultant and
client work to become interdependent. They share responsibility 50/50 for action
planning, implementation and results. Control issues become matters for
discussion and negotiation. Disagreement is expected and seen as a source of new
The consultant’s goal is to solve problems so that they stay
solved. Next time the client will have the skills to solve the problem.
In this mode, the relationship between consultant and client is
creative, productive and responsibility is shared. This is the most appropriate
role for IT people to take with clients in today’s complex organizations.
However, it demands that IT people acquire skills beyond the technical. Some
clients will see this type of relationship as slow, and may interpret
collaboration as some form of obstruction. They will want to gain access to the
quick results that the ‘experts’ used to give them, which will lead them to the
problems highlighted above with the expert role.
What skills and knowledge might be required to enhance an IT
person’s ability to work collaboratively with business managers? The intended
outcome is to increase the possibility of implemented IT systems resulting in
the intended behaviour change. We suggest that IT people involved in large-scale
change initiatives need to acquire the following skills and knowledge if they
are to become better agents of change:
How does organizational change happen?
What motivates people and how can that motivation be
Where does resistance to change come from, and how can it be
What change processes and what leadership styles are there
to choose from, and what are the effects of each?
Wide understanding of different business processes.
Good understanding of organizational culture and its impact
Coaching managers to solve change issues.
Facilitating multidisciplinary team workshops.
Influencing those outside your direct control.
Client and stakeholder management (saying no as much as you
Collaborative process mapping.
Ability to speak the client’s language (using their
If you are an IT person reading this, then your irritation level
may now have reached an all-time high! You may be thinking, ‘I am already doing
all this!’ We congratulate you, and offer our additional thoughts on the role of
HR people in IT-based change. HR people suffer this syndrome in reverse. While
they might focus on all the people-related aspects of desired changes, they
often fail to grasp the nature of the technology involved. Again this is
changing, but slowly.
Enterprise-wide applications such as PeopleSoft are now
taking hold in many organizations, replacing many of the tasks that HR people
have traditionally called their own (promotion, recruitment, arrangement of
training). HR people need to be ready to understand and explore the
possibilities offered by these systems so that they can think through how people will be affected, and
orientate their internal structures and skills accordingly. This might mean
setting up some quite different structures. Some central HR departments that we
have worked with are now providing help desks and supporting users of IT, while
offering HR policy guidance rather than taking on a full HR management