Worldwide Software as a Service Revenue Expected to Reach $14.5 Billion in 2012


Worldwide software as a service (SaaS) revenue is forecast to reach $14.5 billion in 2012, a 17.9 percent increase from 2011 revenue of $12.3 billion, according to Gartner, Inc. SaaS-based delivery will experience healthy growth through 2015, when worldwide revenue is projected to reach $22.1 billion.

“After more than a decade of use, adoption of SaaS continues to grow and evolve regionally within the enterprise application markets,” said Sharon Mertz, research director at Gartner. “Increasing familiarity with the SaaS model, continued oversight on IT budgets, the growth of platform as a service (PaaS) developer communities and interest in cloud computing are now driving adoption forward.”

Although growing interest has been observed in vertical-specific software, the most widespread use is still characterized by horizontal applications with common processes, among distributed virtual workforces and within Web 2.0 activities.

“The top issues encountered when deploying SaaS vary by region,” Ms. Mertz said. “Limited flexibility of customization and limited integration to existing systems are the primary reasons in North America. In EMEA, network instability is the issue most frequently encountered, whereas longer-than-expected deployments are the top issue in Asia/Pacific. Vendors are more aggressively pursuing SaaS buyers outside traditional markets by offering local-language availability, forming alliances and constructing data centers to accommodate local requirements.”

What is IT Governance?

For corporates considering a new IT governance programme, the first requirement is to agree upon what it means, what it involves and who is responsible for its implementation and oversight. This includes ensuring that external IT service are also following accepted It governance guidelines so that best practice is maintained throughout the IT environment whether in-house or outsourced.

Inadequate IT governance is not the exception, especially in mid-sized enterprises, but perhaps more surprisingly it is also a condition common to many large enterprises as well.

One of the root causes for these challenges is that those people who are responsible for the success of IT initiatives often use the term “governance” loosely, without sharing a common understanding of the term and without completely comprehending what it actually involves. In these cases the first imperative to implementing a coherent corporate governance environment is to define what the term “governance” actually means.

The next step is to identify the key distinctions between good and poor governance and having done so, to then determine the path from poor to good governance over a pre-determined and realistic period of time.

What is governance?

A good place to start in our quest for a clear definition is the World Bank, which has described a common understanding of governance. It is defined as: ‘The rule of the rulers typically with a given set of rules’.

Or more simply put, governance is the process by which authority is conferred on rulers, by which they make the rules and by which those rules are enforced and modified.

How does the World Bank concept of governance translate to enterprises?

Corporate governance (the rules) refers to the formation and steering of the rules and processes of an organisation by which businesses are operated, regulated and controlled for effective achievement of corporate goals. Corporate governance structures (the rulers) are those bodies or councils which are specifically concerned with governance, while the Board of Directors are finally accountable for the application of good governance. Typically, they carry out their governance duties via committees that oversee critical areas such as audit, compensation, acquisitions and so on.

To complicate matters, different corporate governance guidelines and regulations are used by different countries. One of the most commonly referred is the OECD Principles of Corporate Governance. Another is the Sarbanes Oxley Act, a United States Federal law on accounting reform. There are also industry specific regulations like Basel III for Banking, HIPAA for Health Insurance, and so on.

The importance of IT governance

Since organisations are increasingly dependent on IT for their operations and profitability, the need for better accountability of technology-related decisions has become a key part of corporate governance, making IT governance a highly strategic subset of the overall enterprise governance.

In the case of IT, governance – or the rules – links IT strategies to the overall enterprise goals and strategies. It also institutionalises best practices for planning, acquiring, implementing and monitoring IT performance; it manages the risks that IT poses to business and it ensures accountability of IT costs.

The IT governance structure

An organisation’s IT strategy committee, or the equivalent, is typically composed of board and non-board members which together form the governance structure that oversees IT governance. They are the rulers who may in turn have sub-committees or groups who are responsible for specific areas of IT governance.

Over the years multiple industry standard IT governance and control frameworks have evolved and are available for enterprises to adopt. The most commonly referred to are: ISO/IEC 38500:2008 Corporate Governance of information technology and the Control Objectives for Information and Related Technology (COBIT).

In addition to these there are also many other related frameworks and methodologies which help enterprises to address specific aspects of their IT governance. Fortunately the Calder-Moir IT Governance Framework has drawn upon and integrated the wide range of management frameworks, standards and methodologies that exists today – some of which overlap and compete – into a conceptual approach that provides an effective visualisation of IT governance.

Where does IT outsourcing governance fit?

Most enterprises today outsource at least some, and in many cases all, of their IT or IT-enabled business services to third parties. Because IT is now such a prominent driver of business success and efficiency, it has become vitally important for organisations to accept that while they may outsource their IT service delivery, they must continue to be accountable for the service delivery to the business. Organisations need to know their third party service providers are following the accepted principles of good governance to ensure they are in a position to effectively manage the risks and continue to deliver value to their corporate customers.

This specific focus, called ‘outsourcing governance’, is essentially a sub-set of IT governance and its primary focus is regulating the interface between the enterprise and the outsourced service provider. One crucial consideration when considering outsourcing governance is that given the close interrelationship between the in-house and outsourced IT environment, focusing on IT outsourcing governance invariably proves inadequate – it must be considered within the context of IT governance as a whole.

by Paul Michaels, CEO of ImprovIT, and Navin Anand, Managing Partner & Sudha Iyer, Consultant at WhiteBox Business Solutions 

How To Keep Your Job Without Working Yourself To Death


Just when we thought the economy might be improving, on the cusp of a holiday weekend the March jobs report was disappointing. Then this week Sony Corporation announced plans to cut 10,000 jobs, or about 6% of its global workforce.

All this confirms what, deep down, we already knew: Employers are reluctant to hire and want more productivity from fewer people. In this age of working 24/7 and constant connectivity, how can we fulfill the company’s expectations, while getting the rest we need and having some semblance of a personal life? That’s the question we all grapple with.

Before your blood pressure rises, take a deep breath. Remind yourself that whatever goals the company sets from on high, you don’t have to single-handedly fulfill them. Keep in mind, too, that the person best suited to look after your interests is the one who stared back at you in the mirror this morning. Here’s a survival guide for the week ahead – and for today’s tough economic times.

Harness your biological clock. By figuring out your best and worst times of the day–what scientists call circadian rhythms–you can take less time to complete complicated tasks and improve your creativity. For instance, if you hit your stride between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., schedule the most challenging work for this high-energy period. Save job-related activities that require less attention, like answering e-mail or returning phone calls, for mid-afternoon when your energy lags.

Avoid multiple breaks during the work day. Each time you leave your desk—for example, to get a cup of coffee, fetch a glass of water, or bring back lunch–it probably takes you 20 minutes to resume concentration on what you were doing. Ditto personal phone calls and e-mails. The more intensely you focus while you’re there, the more quickly you can get your work done and go home.

Leave your work at the office. This means physically and mentally. Unless you’re up against a deadline, don’t bring home things to do. Zealously protect dinner time with your family or significant other. Although it’s pleasant to ask each other, “How was your day?” a lot of conversation about everything that happened just causes you to relive the events, and hampers your ability to disconnect.

Limit e-mail during off hours. Query whether you really must check your office e-mail when you’re not at work — and if so, how often. If you really do need to stay in touch, don’t start the thread or reply to a message unless there is an emergency.

Schedule personal time. Make sure the agenda includes taking care of yourself (perhaps by exercising, preparing healthy foods or going to the doctor), recreating with family and friends and doing activities that you enjoy. Being overworked can be an out-of-control sensation. Choosing to do certain things (rather than being required to do them) combats that feeling of powerlessness.

Don’t make a habit of working on weekends. You can’t schedule inspiration, creativity or innovation. In fact, sometimes we think most clearly about a work-related issue when we are out of the office. (For examples of inspiration in the middle of “down time,” see my post, “Wasting Time Can Make You A Star At Work.”)

That said, just because you’re feeling clearheaded during off hours doesn’t mean you need to drop everything and implement the idea. It might be enough to jot a few notes to yourself and use them to boost your productivity on your next regularly scheduled day in the office.

Take vacations. Burnout hurts your company as much as it hurts you. So there’s nothing noble about piling up unused vacation days. With your boss’s permission, take time in the way that benefits you most. That probably means setting aside a decent interval, rather than taking off days here and there over the course of a year. Longer vacations also make more financial sense if your getaway includes airplane travel.

Changing your venue and getting away from familiar stimuli will leave you feeling more rested than puttering around the house on a “staycation.” Here, too, resist the temptation to check e-mail and don’t volunteer that you will be reachable by cell phone.

Beyond Scrum, Kanban and XP : The Total Agility framework of Four Quadrants©


Agile has been an enigma to a lot of people except for the geeks and evangelists.. And even they all had their own interpretation of ‘what is agile’.

Some say it is about ‘teamwork’. Some people swear by its technical practices that bring about the best in class product quality. Some talk about how the features are managed in chunks to bring about maximum business value and quick delivery.. In the end, the question, is ‘is it about being fast, is it about bringing high quality, is it about better managing client’s needs, or is it about building a high performing motivated team” ?

Every agile practitioner has a different answer. Sounds a bit like the proverbial blind men and the elephant, isn’t it?

Product quality, motivated teams, happy client, fast-paced delivery – that all sound like a lot to achieve…   The Utopia? I swear it can be achieved!

One of the main reasons why people get confused about Agile is because it is spoken in many dialects like Scrum, XP, FDD, Kanban … And most of the time, the people who speak these dialects forget to mention how all these can in fact, co-exist beautifully.

I remember once when I attended a scrum training (mainly out of curiosity) few years ago, the famous trainer refused to even address basic questions from the participants saying “that term doesn’t belong in scum!” Needless to say, there was lot of confused people who came out of the session including yours truly. It may not always be easy for a newbie to connect the dots.

It is only when I started practicing agile ( I prefer to go by ‘Agile’ -I wouldn’t use the dialects here), and literally inventing practical agile solutions to every day issues faced by our technology teams that you sort of put all the jigsaw pieces together and realize that, it all fits in perfectly well in the big picture!

In any software development scenario, the distinct sets of questions we try to answer are: (note they have been grouped into four sets)

  • How do you achieve best product quality?
  • Did we not have it before, why is the need to re-invent the definition of product quality?
  • What was wrong with what we have been doing so far?
  • How much engineering really is there in software engineering?

  • How can IT become true enablers to business rather than a bottleneck?
  • How can we work closely with business where we understand each other?
  • How do we prioritize what is most important to business and commit on that?
  • Can IT and business speak the same language?

  • How do we re-invent Project management in IT?
  • What are those PM practices that enable a self-running team?
  • What would be the role of a project manager in an agile team?
  • What all behavioral practices need to be inculcated for the team to be really agile?

  • Are agile teams a bunch of cowboys?
  • Can we see and measure the progress of agile deliveries?
  • Can agile be done at an enterprise level, or is it only confined to small teams and small companies?

Well, of these questions are deep enough be answered through an elaborate white paper….  what I am trying to do here is to attempt to uncomplicated agile in a simple way so that it can be understood equally by all stakeholders and they are able to unfold the blind and see the ‘elephant’ for what it really is J

If I were to go back to the set of questions above, I would categorize them into “Four Quadrants”:

  1. Ensuring Product Quality ( through engineering practices)
  2. Managing the Client/Business needs ( through product Management practices)
  3. Building self-running motivated teams ( through redefining project management practices)
  4. Ensuring performance management and enterprise-wide scalability (through Agile PMO practices)

Agile Four Quadrants

While this could very well represent the Four Quadrants© of enterprise agile implementation, are we missing anything ? What could be the other enabling factors ?

There are three other important aspects to have a real success with Agile. They are :

  1. Agile Infrastructure
  2. Human Capital development
  3. Thought leadership

Which brings me to the below ‘Total Agility’ model:

This would be our interpretation of ‘Total Agility’, or rather how the elephant really looks like…

It is easier said than done. When it comes to execution, each of these blocks are equally important and requires specific attention. That is exactly the reason why many transformations fail. We tend to focus only on very few topics (normally easy rituals like standup meetings, poker planning etc).  The tough ones are left for later, and the important engineering practices get ignored. Another common mistake is the inability or reluctance to measure. Anyway, will get into pitfalls of agile implementation at a later stage.

If we were to drill down into each of these blocks, we end up with specific value-added practices as shown below. Note the importance of CRM, Infrastructure and Human capital development in the overall framework. Also note how thought leadership and Agile PMO becomes important pillars in the success of the agile delivery.

Needless to say, each of these practices requires skills and expertise across all the stakeholders.

10 Most Common Misconceptions About User Experience Design


revealed!Whitney Hess is an independent user experience designer, writer and consultant based in New York City. She authors the blog Pleasure and Pain.

When I tell people that I am a user experience designer, I usually get a blank stare. I try to follow it up quickly by saying that I make stuff easy and pleasurable to use. That’s the repeatable one-liner, but it’s a gross oversimplification and isn’t doing me any favors.

The term “user experience” or UX has been getting a lot of play, but many businesses are confused about what it actually is and how crucial it is to their success.

I asked some of the most influential and widely respected practitioners in UX what they consider to be the biggest misperceptions of what we do. The result is a top 10 list to debunk the myths. Read it, learn it, live it.

User experience design is NOT…

1. …user interface design

It’s not uncommon to confuse “user experience” with “user interface” — after all it’s a big part of what users interact with while experiencing digital products and services. But the UI is just one piece of the puzzle.

“Interface is a component of user experience, but there’s much more,” says Peter Merholz, founding partner and president of Adaptive PathChristian Crumlish, curator of the Yahoo! Design Pattern Library, explains that design “isn’t about cosmetics, pixel-pushing, and button placement. It’s holistic and it’s everyone’s concern, not just the realm of ‘artistic’ types.”

Dan Saffer, founder and principal at Kicker Studio, agrees that it’s common for design to be mistaken for being solely about decoration or styling. “I’ve had clients tell me not to worry about what their strategy is,” he says, “because why would a designer care about that? UX is more than just skin deep.”

2. …a step in the process

It is the process. In order to create a great experience for your users, not just design something that we’d like to use, we need to keep listening and iterating. It doesn’t have to be a rigid process, but it does need to exist.

“User experience design isn’t a checkbox,” says Liz Danzico, an independent user experience consultant and chairperson of the new MFA in Interaction Design program at the School of Visual Arts. “You don’t do it and then move on. It needs to be integrated into everything you do.”

Dan Brown, co-founder and principal at EightShapes notes, “Most [clients] expect experience design to be a discrete activity, solving all their problems with a single functional specification or a single research study. It must be an ongoing effort, a process of continually learning about users, responding to their behaviors, and evolving the product or service.”

3. …about technology

User experience isn’t even about technology, says Mario Bourque, manager of information architecture and content management at Trapeze Group. “It’s about how we live. It’s about everything we do; it surrounds us.”

faucetLike a painter uses paint to communicate concepts and emotions, user experience designers use technology to help people accomplish their goals. But the primary objective is to help people, not to make great technology.

“User experience design is not limited to the confines of the computer. It doesn’t even need a screen,” argues Bill DeRouchey, director of interaction design at Ziba Design. “User experience is any interaction with any product, any artifact, any system.”

Really, a user experience designer could help to improve a person’s experience with just about anything — a doorknob, a faucet, a shopping cart. We just don’t typically refer to the people using those things as “users,” but they are.

4. …just about usability

“People often think that [UX design] is a way to make products that suck into products that don’t suck by dedicating resources to the product’s design,” says Chris Fahey, founding partner and principal of Behavior. Making stuff easy and intuitive is far from our only goal. In order to get people to change their behavior, we need to create stuff they want to use, too.

David Malouf, professor of interaction design at Savannah College of Art & Design, explains that “while usability is important, its focus on efficiency and effectiveness seems to blur the other important factors in UX, which include learnability and visceral and behavioral emotional responses to the products and services we use.” Not everything has to be dead simple if it can be easily learned, and it’s critical that the thing be appealing or people might never interact with it in the first place.

“Usability is not a synecdoche for UX,” asserts Will Evans, principal user experience architect at Semantic Foundry. He points to Peter Morville’s UX honeycomb, which in addition to usable, recognizes useful, desirable, accessible, credible, findable, and ultimately valuable as the essential facets of user experience.

5. …just about the user

consumerRuss Unger, experience design strategist, likes to say that the biggest misconception of UX design is the “U.” “There are a set of business objectives that are needing to be met—and we’re designing to that, as well,” he explains. “We just can’t always do what is best for the users. We have to try to make sure that we are presenting an overall experience that can meet as many goals and needs as possible for the business and the users.”

As user experience designers we have to find the sweet spot between the user’s needs and the business goals, and furthermore ensure that the design is on brand.

6. …expensive

Every project requires a custom-tailored approach based on the business’s available resources, capabilities, timeline, and budget, and a whole slew of real-world constraints. But that doesn’t always mean that it needs to be costly or take forever.

Steve Baty, principal and user experience strategist at Meld Consulting, combats the fallacy that UX design adds too much time to a project. “Sometimes a fully-fledged, formal UCD process may not be the best thing to try first time,” he says. “It’s extremely important – and totally possible no matter where you’re working or when you arrive on a project – to make small improvements to both the project and the product by introducing some user experience design techniques.”

“People cling to things like personas, user research, drawing comics, etc.,” notes Saffer. “In reality the best designers have a toolbox of options, picking and choosing methods for each project what makes sense for that particular project.”

7. …easy

Just because we know how to conduct some cool and useful activities and you know your business really well doesn’t mean that this whole process is a breeze. And cutting corners on some important steps is a recipe for disaster.

Saffer maintains that a misconception “as common among designers as it is among clients, is that there is one secret method that will solve all their design problems.”

A trap that a lot of companies fall into is in thinking that they are their own end users. Erin Malone, principal atTangible UX, finds that both product managers and programmers believe they will create the experience as they build it. “UX designers are caught in the middle trying to speak the business language and the developer language to justify why we need to do our jobs and why it’s important to success.”

If you make assumptions about the people you expect to use your product or service — who they are, how they behave, what makes them tick — you’ll probably always be wrong. But take the time to get to know them, and hire the appropriate person to facilitate the process, and you can ensure you’ll get it right.

8. …the role of one person or department

workspaceUser experience designers are liaisons, not subject matter experts, doctors or any type of magical beings. We don’t have a set of best practices that we can robotically implement, nor do we have all of the answers. Our greatest skill is that we know how to listen. While we can help evangelize the most effective process within your organization, it’s ultimately up to all members of the business to make it a success.

“User experience isn’t just the responsibility of a department or a person,” says Livia Labate, principal of information architecture and user experience at Comcast Interactive Media. “That compartmentalist view of UX is evidence that it is not part of the organizational culture and hints to teams not having a common goal or vision for the experience they should deliver collectively.”

Malone highlights the fact that there are many different breeds of practitioners that fall within the user experience umbrella. “We, as an industry, have not done a good job of separating out specialties and roles with enough unique language so that clients and businesses get that they need to hire (on staff or consultant) different types of people at different points in a project lifecycle.”

9. …a single discipline

The truth is that we’re all still very new at this. Louis Rosenfeld, publisher at Rosenfeld Media, publishing books on user experience design, and co-author of the seminal 2002 book Information Architecture for the World Wide Web argues that user experience may not yet even be a discipline. “It may not even be a community just yet,” he asserts. “At best, it’s a common awareness, a thread that ties together people from different disciplines who care about good design, and who realize that today’s increasingly complex design challenges require the synthesis of different varieties of design expertise.”

We have proliferation of nebulous titles: information architect, user experience architect, interaction designer, usability engineer, design analyst, and on and on. And they don’t mean the same thing to every person or company.

Different people specialize in different parts of the process. Some UX practitioners focus on a specific technique, like Indi Young and mental models, or a single challenge, like Luke Wroblewski and web forms, or a focused activity, like Steve Krug and usability testing. Just like you wouldn’t go to a cardiologist to heal your broken foot, don’t expect any professional in the realm of user experience to accomplish everything you need.

10. …a choice

For those of you who think you don’t really need a user experience designer, keep this in mind: “Nobody wants to believe that what they are offering is of poor-quality or deficient,” says Kaleem Khan, an independent UX consultant, “because nobody sets out to achieve a bad design as a goal. It’s always a risk. Bad designs and bad experiences happen.”

Jared Spool, founding principal and CEO at User Interface Engineering (UIE), the world’s largest usability research firm, has done extensive investigation on the qualities of the satisfied and successful product teams. Simply put, the most common flaw he has found is that companies think “good experience design is an add-on, not a base requirement.”

Josh Porter, formerly of UIE and now principal at Bokardo Design, echoes Spool when he says, “The biggest misconception is that [companies] have a choice to invest in their user’s experience. To survive, they don’t.”

There are plenty of amazing practitioners who can help right in your local area. Check your local chapter of theInformation Architecture Institute (IAI), the Interaction Design Association (IxDA), or the Usability Professionals Association (UPA), or just find someone on LinkedIn.

SciFi meets reality – User Experience Design

Minority ReportFrom the original Star Trek series to the film Minority Report, the technologies and interfaces of the “future” have offered audiences a sense of wonderment and provided a lens to examine current devices. Without sci-fi, would we have had the Motorola flip phone, which is suspiciously similar to Star Trek’s communicators? Would the iPad and Kinect’s successful use of gestural design been possible without the breathtaking control interface in Minority Report?

SciFi and other speculative interfaces can unlock possibilities for new interactions in any product or service. In his workshop on “How to Use Scifi to Create Better Interfaces”, interface design expert Nathan Shedroff will share lessons culled from imaginative interfaces unconstrained from traditional constraints, with examples, and prompts attendees to brainstorm around these lessons to unlock new aspects of their existing projects. Then, attendees will develop their own projects using these inspirations.

The workshop is a rare opportunity to explore interface design at a new level with one of the leading visionaries of user experience design and will be followed up by Nathan’s keynote presentation “Make it So: UX Lessons from Science Fiction”, which traces the lines of influence between sci-fi and reality, and investigates how the depiction of technologies evolve over time, how fictional interfaces influence the real world, and what lessons we can learn through this process.

When he’s not writing books and speaking to audiences around the world, Nathan is the chair of the ground-breaking MBA in Design Strategy at California College of the Arts (CCA) in San Francisco.

Chief mobility officer – Do you need one?

Mobile computing in all its complex, multifaceted, unstructured indigestible glory is on the plate of every IT leader and IT department. It can’t be avoided, and who would want to do so?

Organisations have talked about having a mobile strategy since the first the first director invited the rest of the board outside to admire their first car phone. Barely 20 years on, smartphones, tablets, laptops and netbooks are everywhere and shortly to be joined by ultrabooks.

They are all capable of helping employees, customers and business partners at the time and place that’s right for them.
In the excitement about creating a mobile organisation, it is worth asking whether you really have a mobile strategy, or do you have a series of stand-alone projects – which risk an avalanche of unintended consequences.

If you are building a smartphone app, business departments can squabble and compete over how it will work, and what it should include.
What about your e-commerce systems? They were built for transactions, while mobile computing is all about engagement – that is giving the end users something they need at the time and place they need it.

Your back-end infrastructure and middleware for e-commerce were designed for PCs access the internet. Mobile devices could create demands an order of magnitude greater, and fundamentally different in nature.

That is just the start. It is not just IT infrastructure that isn’t a good fit for a genuinely mobile organisation; it is IT governance and even the vision of the IT department that may not be a good fit for the demands of a mass mobile computing era.

A recent research paper from Forrester goes beyond the usual platitudes and hype to propose some practical action. It calls for organisations to consider creating a chief mobility officer, with a strong team and a remit which cuts across business functions and established IT domains.

The first item on the agenda should be to top slice the development budgets for building front end apps and spend use the cash on engineering infrastructure and middleware for the mobile revolution. The longer term goal though is to get the technical and business leaders alike to think in terms of engaging customers, on the move, as they go about their lives.

The CMO needs to be an evangelist, a diplomat and visionary who is tech savvy and can talk to business people in language they understand.
We are not living in another dotcom boom, with technology hype driven by an insanely inflated stock market. We are seeing a fundamental shift in technology, empowering potentially billions of people who love their mobile devices. This is your opportunity to get in their pockets.

Original article available on Computer World UK.

Resistance to Change


Resistance to Change

It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad. —C. S. Lewis

Resistance—What a Pain! (Or is it?)

If there was ever an aspect to organizational change that permeates our profession, it’s the need to address resistance. Reluctance, concerns, struggle, and opposition are all natural and healthy parts of the human transformative process. As such, surfacing, exploring, and addressing the views that run contrary to intended outcomes is as important to our role as is promoting understandingcommitment, and alignment toward realization goals.

The focus of this blog is the facilitation of fundamental transformative change endeavors. Within this context, is resistance difficult to deal with? Without question. Is it possible to achieve ambitious, dramatic change agendas without it being a central part of the implementationlandscape? Absolutely not.

As critical as it is to our work, some practitioners take the position that resistance is an unnecessary outcome that results from poor implementation planning or execution. I hold the opposite view —I see it as an intrinsic component to reaching full realization. Differences of opinion about issues as fundamental as resistance are worthy of open dialogue within our practitioner community. We will become a stronger discipline by sharing views on important facets of our profession, particularly when they represent divergent opinions.

Therefore, in this series, I’ll contrast my understanding of why some change agents see resistance as avoidable with why I believe it is both inescapable and central to achieving whatclients expect us to help them accomplish.

First, as best I can tell, there are three basic variations of the “resistance can and should be averted” contention:

  • There are those who believe all you have to do is listen to everyone’s concerns and empathize with their circumstances and they will cooperate.

While there is value in listening and being empathetic, in my experience, people are often offended by the notion that their apprehensions are seen as so inconsequential that a little “getting it off your chest” is all that’s needed.

  • Then there are those who believe venting isn’t enough, but that resistance can be dispelled by employing various “involvement” or “engagement” activities. The theory here is that the anxiety and discomfort people experience when their world is turned upside down will thin out, if not vanish, by asking them to participate in some way in the change process.

I’ve rarely seen this approach live up to its hype. In many instances, those asked to participate actually leave the process with less trust than when they entered because many of their questions are left unaddressed. Some even get the message that they “should” have been persuaded by leadership in the first place. When this happens, instead of showing sponsors how to surface and use resistance to their advantage, practitioners undermine them by leaving them thinking it is preventable; thus, they are ill-equipped to deal with it.

  • My personal favorite is when change agents proclaim that human resistance doesn’t actually exist. They take the position that people don’t resist change, only systems do.

This one is so counter to my experience that it is hard to fathom the logic. As I understand it, the view depends on an interesting balancing act between rejecting the existence of human resistance to change on one hand while at the same time recognizing its presence but blaming it on the organizational structures and processes within which people operate. It’s a bit convoluted to say the least.

I can’t claim to fully comprehend this thinking, but it seems to somehow play into victimizingtargets of change…portraying them as helpless against the overpowering dynamics that surround them. To the contrary, I can’t buy into this characterization because I’ve seen too many empowered targets of change significantly impact sponsor decision making. When resistance is properly brought forward to sponsors who genuinely value the target’s perspectives, they are able to influence both the changes that are approved and how they are pursued.

I guess it’s obvious that I disagree with these views. In fact, my experience has led me to believe that unless people register some degree of reservation about impending change, meaningful resolve for an initiative’s success can’t be developed. Doubt is an essential element in the commitment-building process and resistance is nothing more than an overt or covert expression of that skepticism.

The only set of conditions I have seen where resistance doesn’t materialize is when modest, incremental, or inconsequential changes are being attempted. Significant disenchantment can be largely skirted in these situations, but not when dramatic, fundamental endeavors are being pursued. With major change, resistance, in some form and to some degree, is always in play.

Bear in mind that this blog is not intended for the full spectrum of professional change facilitators. I’m writing for seasoned practitioners who are involved in complex, transformative initiatives. Imperative, multi-faceted organizational change efforts may be perceived as a wonderful new future or a horrible turn of events with disastrous implications. It all depends on the constituency you talk to. Either way, it involves humans in transition, and one thing you can bank on is that people will squirm and strain if asked to adapt to unfamiliar circumstances when there is a lot at stake.

Practitioners who promote resistance as a negative liability that can and should be prevented (instead of an uncomfortable but positive asset to be leveraged) do their clients a considerable disservice:

  • At a minimum, they lessen their own contribution to client success.
  • They often compound what otherwise could have been resolvable problems.
  • They miss the chance to identify concerns from the target’s perspective that can be mitigated early.
  • They bypass the prospect of targets feeling that sponsors want to hear their opinions, value their views and are eager to address what issues they can.
  • They squander their opportunities to prepare people for the reality of change.
  • They fail to capitalize on the chance for sponsors and targets to build mutual respect and interdependencies.
  • They cater to an unrealistic notion that somehow disruptive change can be achieved in a contented, conflict-free environment.
  • They foster superficial imitations of commitment rather than deep resolve.
  • They create environments prone to installing rather than realizing outcomes.

Practitioners who operate on the basis that resistance to major change can be averted jeopardize the intended outcome of their assigned projects and erode their own credibility in the process. For example, executives facing sophisticated, enterprise-wide initiatives for the first time might be coaxed into buying the myth that people will willingly upend their world without feeling any fear or doubt. Battle-scarred leaders familiar with the harsh realities of critical transformations, however, know that resistance is always going to be their companion on the change journey…at some time and to some degree. They look for seasoned change professionals who know what to do about it, not naïve players who cling to idealist notions of significant change without struggle.


I’m glad to say that the majority of change practitioners I know have a healthy respect for resistance and see it as an advantage to the implementation process, not an annoyance to be deflected. The point of this post is to say that there are those with a different view. I encourage readers to give some thought to this issue, because we must each decide which perspective is right for us. As a profession, we can live with differences of convictions, but it is vital that each of us formulate our views on matters of such importance to our craft.

I believe resistance is inevitable, important to manage carefully, and that we as practitioners have a responsibility to address it with skill and mindfulness. It’s with these biases that I offer the following blog entries:

  • In post 2, I’ll focus on the influence that predictability and control have in shaping resistance.
  • In posts 3, 4, and 5, I’ll review three models I use when assessing how resistance is impacting implementation as well as when I’m educating clients about its various manifestations.
  • Also in post 5, I’ll give you the link to a tool that fosters sponsor/target discussion about current resistance to a specific change.

I hope that, in response to these posts, you will consider sharing some of your perspectives on the topic. What have you learned about resistance that others could benefit from?

Google’s Chrome OS Will Soon Look More Like Windows Than A Browser


It’s hard to say how popular Chrome OS, Google’s browser-centric operating system, really is. There can be little doubt, though, that Google is quite serious about this initiative. Today, Google launched the latest developer version of Chrome OS and this update sports the first major redesign of the operation system’s interface since its launch in late 2010.

In this new version, Chrome OS almost looks like a traditional OS, with a full-blown desktop and window manager instead of just a browser and tabs. Aura, as this hardware-accelerated window manager is known, is Chrome’s next generation user interface framework and it is making its public debut in this new developer version of Chrome OS.

This update is quite a departure from Chrome OS’s origins. Until now, Chrome OS basically just gave users access to a single browser window at a time (you could already have multiple browser windows open on separate virtual screens) and launching new apps meant you first had to open a new tab and then look for the app you wanted to start. Now, Chrome OS features a Launchpad-like app launcher, as well as a Windows-like taskbar (Google calls it a “shelf”). Apps, it is worth noting, still start in a browser tab and not as stand-alone windows, though.

In short, Chrome OS now looks and behaves a lot more like the desktop operating systems it set out to challenge.

In a way, this almost feels as if Google is admitting defeat here. When Chrome OS launched, Google’s Sergey Brin argued that traditional PC operating systems were “torturing users.” Chrome OS was supposed to be all about “speed, simplicity and security” and Google wanted to use it to “re-think what operating systems should be.” This new version, however, does away with a bit of this simplicity in favor of greater functionality. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though, and may just help Chrome OS gain more mainstream acceptance as new users will surely find it to be a more familiar experience.

While Aura is obviously the star of this update, it’s worth noting that the latest version also introduces support for files compressed in the .tar, .gz and .bzip2 formats, as well as better support for multi-monitor setups.

Launch Date:September 7, 1998

Google provides search and advertising services, which together aim to organize and monetize the world’s information. In addition to its dominant search engine, it offers a plethora of online tools and platforms including: Gmail, Maps, YouTube, and Google+, the company’s extension into the social space. Most of its Web-based products are free, funded by Google’s highly integrated online advertising platforms AdWords and AdSense. Google promotes the idea that advertising should be highly targeted and relevant to users thus providing…

Instagram and $1 Billion: Facebook’s Answer To Mobile


It is hard to knock a company looking set to debut in the public markets with a $100 billion valuation and 845 million friends, but if we did, Facebook’s mobile technology is an easy target. Put simply: Facebook’s app just doesn’t work very well.

Apple iOS users and Google Android users both complain. It doesn’t load at worst. At best it is slow and jerky.

This would seem like an easy fix, and why wouldn’t Facebook just do it? They have the funds to invest. Mobile matters, of course, when you’re business is connecting people and content, real-time.

But then think of the underlying complexity. Facebook is relaying us a lot of information very quickly. Some these data spurts are trivial; some aren’t. Feeds of all sorts of shapes and sizes that are changing constantly. Elegant apps tend to be much more simple in what they actually deliver us. Facebook likely faces a real challenge here.

So perhaps a deep mobile understanding is one of the things Mark Zuckerberg sought out in spending what seems like a tremendous sum, $1 billion, on the photo sharing app Instagram.

Sure, the company didn’t have revenues, which on the surface makes the $1 billion valuation laughable and perhaps the surest sign yet techland is frothing. But talent is expensive in Silicon Valley these days and competition is fierce. Kevin Systrom, Instagram’s CEO, really knows mobile and specifically sharing on mobile. His big goal for Instagram as he put it to Digg founder Kevin Rose was to the place where you could “tune into anything on Earth”. Instagram’s success so far has been thanks to a fine combination of technology know-how and the right attention product detail. Those are highly prized skills right now.

Already we are spending a fifth of our Facebook day just commenting on other people’s photos, per the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Photos are a core part of the Facebook experience, and perhaps the starting point for a revamp of the site’s mobile approach.

And so Zuckerberg nailed down one of the smartest guys in a category Facebook has struggled to perfect. He has also prevented other rivals, notably Google and then Twitter, from grabbing that same talent. Will this deal look cheap in two years? Probably, if Facebook works on your phone.