OCM – On the Sidelines

If you have worked as an OCM consultant in any development project, you would know what the topic of my blog means. You may be one of the many OCM team members/leads who get to state their status in any project meeting right in the end. You would also be used to being called upon last to discuss any project related concerns. So, what could be the reason behind it. Let’s start from the beginning.

What is OCM: OCM refers to Organizational Change Management. The OCM team manages the effects of change in an organization which could be due to change in the structure, technical set-up or the culture of the organization. OCM activities involve regular communication with the stakeholders and end users, continual validation of the change requirement, and optimization of the environment to receive the change.

How OCM is different: How is OCM different from the other project teams like development team and  design team can be explained with the example of a house construction project. There is an architect who designs the structure of the house and there are masons and constructors who build the house. And then there is a planning/marketing consultant who tells the architect about how the aesthetics of the house will affect the people and how this design should best be presented to them.

Why is OCM important: OCM is people-centric. The entire process of OCM revolves around people – their expectations, fears, and knowledge gap. While the design and technical teams concentrate on design, development, and implementation of the change, OCM concentrates on how this change will affect the people.

OCM on the sidelines in the development project: The first impression that one gets while observing the project is that OCM tasks and its status is never the priority in a development project. I am listing down the possible reasons for this state:

  1.  No direct impact on the current milestones – This is one of the biggest reasons why OCM remains on the sidelines in any development project. The OCM tasks do not have any direct impact on the development milestones of the project.
  2.  Not in the line of fire – Since the OCM team and its activities, during the run of a project, do not directly impact the imminent progress of the project, we are never in the “middle of the things” or in the line of fire.
  3. Ignorance –  The project manager may not always be aware of the affect of OCM on the success of the project. Although, there can be a lack of judgement on part of the project leadership, the OCM lead needs to strategically place OCM as the integral part of the project.
  4. Progress and Success – It is the responsibility of the OCM lead/consultant to educate the project leadership about how the current status of OCM may not affect the progress of the project but it will definitely affect the overall success of the project. It is important for us to understand the difference between progress and success of the project. Progress refers to how successfully you finished the current milestones before moving on to another and success tells us if the achieved milestones helped reach the target/purpose of the project.
  5. OCM runs parallel to the project – OCM runs parallel to the design and development part of the project. It actually begins before the project starts and stays throughout the journey of the project, all the while, running on a parallel track. While the design and development work takes the center stage of the project and showcases the tangible success of the project, OCM remains as the backbone of the project and connects project’s result with people.

On another note, being presented on the sidelines should be taken as one of the many dimensions of the project and all teams should work in their capacity towards the common goal. Many a times, the place of OCM team in a project is dependent on how the OCM team members position themselves. The OCM team should position itself as critical to the project success because they should see themselves on a parallel track with the development team – working together towards a common goal but on different tracks – the development team on a critical path and the OCM team on a crucial path with different deadlines and targets.