Behave and Believe—The Ultimate Goal of Shared Services and Outsourcing Change Management

By December 11, 2012January 3rd, 2022Archive


Last week I was wading through a pile of change management methodologies—you know, the standard ones that are actually quite good—the Kotter and the PROSCI frameworks and strategies, tools and techniques.  It struck me that the change management challenge for outsourcing and shared services is not the dearth of methodologies—there are plenty of templates and questionnaires out there—but understanding what state sourcing change should lead to.

I think it was the late, great George Harrison, said “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” And it seems that, in the thirst to be methodological and cover all the bases, most sourcing change management approaches give a lot of credence to what my favorite Beetle said. Often change management techniques are incorporated into a sourcing transition plan to tick the box, or because there’s a general understanding that if anything will derail shared services and outsourcing, it’s a lack of attention to change management.

But what do you expect sourcing change management to actually achieve? Cover over the noise? Make all relevant stakeholders think they’ve been heard? Implement a communications “insurance” policy so no one comes back to say “you didn’t tell me?” Have a robust intervention program in place? These are all means to an end, but what is the desired end state? How do you get the business case to actually stick?

It comes down to two words: behave and believe. Sourcing change management is not pretty Power Points, developing catchy mission statements, or getting executive management to stand up and take some heat. It’s not mapping copious numbers of stakeholders, or tweaking the structure of an organization according to some benchmarks that bear no semblance to the way the function actually works.

When stakeholders start to behave—working differently and speaking the same language—the change is taking hold. And when business leaders and process owners start to throw more scope over the transom, they are starting to behave. The proof of the pudding is short memories; when stakeholders cannot remember the old days of silo’d processes, paper and walking down the hallway to get something done, the change is durable.

So the next time sourcing change management is on the table, think about what you’re actually trying to achieve—a change in behavior, and a belief that the organization has moved to a better way.


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