The Link Between Biology and IT - Page 2

Apr 3, 2007

Mike Scheuerman

Sometimes change is externally initiated. A forest fire is can be a disastrous change, but the ecosystem has mechanisms to deal with that kind of change and it recovers over time. In the business world the appearance of a disruptive change can mean the demise of an organization that cannot readily adapt to the change.

Developing adaptive change control mechanisms will mitigate the risk of both internal and external changes.

There’s no easy answer to change risk-management. You have to understand your organization, its goals, and its culture to assess what rate and volume of change it can absorb.

While looking for risk think about the following:

  • What is your organization’s level of risk tolerance? Some organizations are much more risk‑averse than others.
  • Does your company routinely explore new ideas and processes? There is always some risk in doing new things, but if you do this often, your organization is probably more attuned to risk evaluation and does of things that generally mitigate risk.
  • How critical is the change to the company strategy? If the change is incidental to the operation of the company, you may want to ease the change in a little more slowly. However if it’s mission‑critical, you’ll probably want to speed up the change because everyone will more likely be supportive of that change.
  • Can the risk be mitigated, if not eliminated? You might be able to cost‑effectively reduce the risk to a point that the remaining risk is acceptable.
  • How does your organization plan for and implement change? Does it have a formal change process or is it ad-hoc? More companies are finding that a formal change process is desirable particularly in light of the regulatory requirements of Sarbanes‑Oxley.
  • Preparing your company for continuous change is one of the things you can do to reduce the risk of change. Putting mechanisms in place to respond positively to change and take advantage of it will give your business a better chance of survival in a world that is constantly changing.

    Knowing the organizational “organism” and using your best judgment on what rate of change can be absorbed is the best way to keep your company from becoming extinct.

    Formerly with B2B CFO, Mike Sheuerman is now an independent consultant with more than 25 years experience in strategic business planning and implementation. He can be reached at

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