Change Management in the Cloud

Change managementHow is change management like raising a child? Have you ever heard the African proverb “It takes a whole village to raise a child?”  What does this mean?  The extended family and even the wider community share responsibility for raising a child.

Preparing a large company for Office Online migration can be like raising a child.  When the child is born it is full of unrealized potential. But, in the end, the community chooses to accept the child, kick it out of the village, or ignore it all together.

We are currently in the midst of an Office 365 implementation in a global company. This implementation has four phases.  Therefore, it’s like raising a family of four children.

This is the story of our second child, Lync and the players involved in raising him to a successful adult.  As background, Lync replaced Office Communicator and LiveMeeting as our instant messaging and web conferencing tool.

Who’s in our Village?

  • Parents are the project team, made up of technical, project, and change management resources. They have the primary responsibility for this child.  So, parents take care of the child’s physical needs and they provide the basis for a successful community member.
  • Grandparents are the project sponsors.  They use their wisdom to see how the child fits into the village while using their influence to help.
  • Extended Family is the change agents. They know and understand the child and introduce him to others they know.
  • Community Members use the new technology.

How did we prepare for this child?

For months, the parents dreamed about their new bundle of joy.  But, a new child brings disruption to the current way of life and returning to normal takes time. This is a fact of life in new tool implementations. So, as people work to adapt, there is a dip in productivity.  After a time, they return to their former level of productivity. Our parents planned ahead, resulting in less disruption after Lync was born.

First, the parents (project team) announced the pregnancy.  The excited grandparents (sponsors) told their friends about this new potential.  Leaders sent e-mail communications globally.  They also talked about it in their town halls and face-to-face meetings.  The sponsors and their peers recruited people in their teams to act as change agents (extended family).

Next, the parents met with the extended family.  They provided technical details of how Lync works and the configuration choices that make it different from other implementations. Also, information and education about the tool were available through virtual meetings. The focus was to deliver the right information at the right time. Therefore, extended family shared information in team meetings and through other communications.

change managementChange management agents paced the halls.  They helped their teams by answering questions and escalating issues. Furthermore, in some of the larger locations, people could come and get help in fully-staffed war rooms.


As the due date got closer, the extended family of change agents hosted a global baby shower. Change agents planned in-person events in over 50 sites around the world. These events generated awareness in addition to providing knowledge of the tool.  The grandparents showed up with all their friends and families to see what was going on.

The Big Day Arrives

Finally, the day of the global implementation!  The extended family stood by and waited and change management agents paced the halls.  They helped their teams by answering questions and escalating issues.  Furthermore, in some of the larger locations, people could come and get help in fully-staffed war rooms.  All while the nervous parents stood by, answering questions and following up on issues. At the end of the day, we had a successful birth!

Care and Feeding in Change Management

As Lync grew day by day, the parents and extended family worked to meet Lync’s physical needs, resulting in technical issues being reported and resolved.  The extended family shared information with each other using Yammer.  This resolved issues and use of the tool evolved.  And, they helped their teams by ensuring education was accessible.  Also, people were on hand to answer questions (especially when Lync changed his name to Skype).

Skype (aka Lync) Becomes an Adult

We implemented Lync (recently renamed Skype for Business) almost a year ago.  We’re back to our former productivity level and then some!  In addition, teams that are not co-located are beginning to use Multi-Party Video calls to meet “in-person” resulting in better collaboration and teamwork.

In conclusion, it truly took a village to raise this child.  It could not have been done without the help of many different members of the community.