change management

6 best practices for successful change management

Experts say mitigating uncertainties and sense of loss, using data, two of the biggest keys to effective change management

It’s About Mitigating the Sense of Loss

karlyn_borysenkoBy Karlyn Borysenko, Zen Workplace

Here’s what you need to understand about change management: People are NOT afraid of change. They are afraid of loss. Loss of responsibility, loss of time, loss of a process they may have spearheaded and take great ownership over—the list could go on.

Change management is the process of mitigating the sense of loss that results from an emotional connection to the work. The absolute best way that you can do that is to make sure that people have a chance to feel that their concerns have been heard, understood, considered, and explained within the overall context of the situation.

As the land of peer review and faculty governance, higher education is notoriously slow to change. This context is critical—it means that your only path for success is to plan for what may seem like a longer-than-ideal timeframe in order to give your faculty and administrators a chance to participate.

Transparency is crucial—if your leadership team goes into a closed-door meeting and makes inflexible decisions with no community involvement, you can expect to have a problem on your hands.

But transparency on its own does not lead to buy-in. You can hold as many town halls as you like, but if the audience feels they were just for show, then it will have defeated the purpose. People don’t need to have their ideas implemented to buy into a new way of doing things…but they do need to feel as though their ideas were heard and taken seriously. After all, you’re asking them to let go and “lose” things they may have worked really hard on and poured their passion into. There’s an emotional attachment there. Approach them as humans—not as an obstacle in your way of “doing business.”

After spending more than a decade in higher education, Karlyn Borysenko founded Zen Workplace, a consultancy dedicated to helping organizations create amazing workplace cultures that drive morale, productivity, and bottom-line results. Learn more at

Why the ‘C’ in Cloud Means Change

shelton_waggenereditBy Shelton Waggener, Internet 2

The emergence of cloud computing generated considerable uncertainty in IT organizations. Many were concerned: “How will we secure the solution? How can we guarantee the environment? Will we be locked into a vendor, who will control the technology and will jobs be outsourced?” While these were valid concerns, I was surprised at the depth of feeling by IT professionals. These are professionals who never saw an “on” button they don’t want to push, a Unix command they couldn’t master, or a scripting language they wouldn’t analyze. I hadn’t seen another technology platform generate this level of angst—so why now with cloud computing?

In a word: speed. Not the speed of CPUs, Networks, spinning disks or applications of which technologies are so accustomed. This time it’s the speed of change.

Perhaps more significant than the pace of change is the fact that this time it isn’t driven by the central or departmental IT organization—it is driven by the expectation that institutional IT should be responsive, dynamic, mobile, easy-to-use, and provide a “better” experience than IT departments have traditionally provided. The competitive or economic moats that may have existed previously are now falling by the wayside, as IT organizations are no longer the center of technology innovation or early adoption. Today, technology groupies span generations and the previously tribal language of technology has been infused into the common daily lexicon. Apple products (among others) are cultural phenomena, media coverage about innovation is everywhere, technology podcasts and YouTube videos regularly top the charts, and the “app economy” is now ‘bigger than Hollywood’. These trends are difficult to ignore. If you are an enterprise IT professional today, you face a new reality: accelerating change is happening and you must adapt or face irrelevance.

Today, the critical question for CIOs, IT leaders, technology professionals, and staff members is now: “Are you prepared to pick up the pace and embrace your own change?”

Shelton Waggener is the senior vice president of Internet2 responsible for the NET+ portfolio of services. 

Harness the Power of Data and Analytics to Show What Could Be

darren_catalanoBy Darren Catalano, HelioCampus

Higher Education is at a tipping point. External and internal factors, including an increased focus on student success and decreased revenues from historically reliable sources, are putting pressure on institutions to become more efficient and show better results. As data professionals in higher education, we must make a compelling argument that we are part of the solution by highlighting our capabilities and showing the university “the art of the possible” when it comes to unlocking the value in our institutional data.

In order to facilitate meaningful conversations and to elevate our role, we must be more proactive and engage the university community in a new way. Before we would ask: what are your requirements? What do you want? And then build, test, and release. Those days are in the past. We can no longer show up to meetings with a blank sheet of paper. Now, we need to show what could be.

To achieve this, institutions should focus on building a data platform that connects disparate data from sources across the university enterprise and transforms the information into flexible data models. By combining datasets, we can analyze transfer, retention, and graduation rates in comparison with admissions data to see differences in profiles; combine prospective student and pre-enrollment data with retention data to spot significant retention impacting variables; and look at first-term class registration patterns to determine the impact on course success. Cloud vendors such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), enable sophisticated data modeling by providing cost effective computing power and scale that previously was not easily accessible by many institituions.

Analytics in higher education has never been more important and those institutions that thrive will use their data as a competitive advantage. Cultural change does not happen by accident but rather it is the result of a consistent intentional effort. In order to facilitate cultural change on campus, follow these five lessons learned:

  1. Invest in a solution
  2. Organize for performance
  3. Empower leaders to use data
  4. Embrace transparency
  5. Highlight success

Data has the ability to make transformational changes within an institution. Our job is to take the complexity out of the data and present it in an easily understood and consumable fashion.

Darren Catalano is CEO of HelioCampus and former vice president of analytics at University of Maryland University College (UMUC). Prior to working in higher education, Mr. Catalano honed his skills as a data professional in the private sector building business intelligence teams focused on finance, accounting, sales, marketing and customer operations analytics.

(Next page: Change management through bravery, culture creation)