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The Ideal-X had hardly completed her rst voyage as a container ship before innovations started to occur Initially, innovation came with new ports and ships Ports that invested in cranes and container-handling equipment won business from those that did not Ships got bigger, ships got faster, ships got bigger again, ships got slower, ships got even bigger and some ships started to endlessly circumnavigate the globe Such innovations contributed far more than automation to the massive price reductions that followed Innovation in container handling reshaped the world transport markets and routes Containers shipped from Tokyo to New York might travel entirely by sea, through the Panama Canal, or via Cape Horn on ships too big to pass through the canal Alternatively, the containers might travel from Tokyo to Oakland in California by sea and then on trains to New York Change also came with the actual containers being shipped By adopting standard sizes, the containers of one company could be carried on the ships or trains of another Standardization of containers allowed the economies of scale to be recognized throughout the industry and created a new industry of container leasing Hidden within the story there s a warning against incremental change and viewing automation as the only bene t The rst container ships carried their containers on deck only and carried traditional cargo below desk While this meant that the containers could be loaded and unloaded faster, the ship still needed to stay in port, for the traditional cargo to be loaded and unloaded Initially, shipping companies were unsure that containers would succeed They hedged their risk by using the same ships for containers and traditional cargo as on the Ideal-X, containers were only carried on deck By not embracing the new system completely, they lost a good deal of the bene ts It wasn t until shipping lines took a risk and broke with the past by operating container-only ships that they could realize the true bene ts of the change Source: Levinson (2006)
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63 Change is What IT People Do to Other People
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IT departments and projects often bring change to other people whether they want it or not This may be the result of a direct management decision ( Introduce a new accounts system ), it may be the result of IT policies ( Dump Windows, go Linux ) or it may be part of a policy to identify and spread incremental improvements Whatever the reason for the change, when the IT systems change, users have to change too For technical people, whether they are business analysts,
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Information Technology The Bringer of Change
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developers or operations staff, this is a technical change and often the end of their work However, for the users it is the start of the change Unfortunately, on the whole IT people don t think about the changes that they introduce to others This is partly a result of our training, which focuses on technology rather than change management3 The need for change may come from an external force facing the organization or from an internal decision to exploit some opportunity Either way, those on the receiving end see little of these forces until they re confronted with the new technology Such technology is the means by which change is forced upon people All too often, software developers and other IT professionals fail to recognize that they re involved in creating change Consequently, IT staff introducing changes can look like shock troops forcing change on unwilling employees Successful software developments may still fail upon deployment if the change programme has failed to involve and prepare the users By recognizing the role IT plays in change, and the importance of embedding it in a wider change programme, we can improve the success rate of software projects For an IT project to be a success, it is no longer enough to deliver on time, on budget and on speci cation To be successful, IT project developers must look at how they t into an organizational change programme and consider how the changes affect the end-users IT people tend to get involved only once the decision to use technology to create change has been made To ordinary programmers, it may be irrelevant why a customer wants a new system: it is enough that someone wants a new system, so that they must implement one (This is particularly true when shortterm or contract staff are used to develop the system) However, the motivations behind the change affect those designing the system and those evaluating the success, or failure, of the system If we want a system that will make things happen more quickly, we can simply model existing working practices and automate them The success criterion will be how fast things move through the system In effect, this is an exercise in single-loop learning Now we know how to do it, make it faster However, if we want to obtain the greater bene ts of process change and innovation, we need a deeper understanding of processes and objectives We need to know why things are done the way they are and how technology can help meet these objectives through new processes A new IT system is just one piece of a larger jigsaw As we get more ambitious and try for greater change, the potential rewards increase, but so too do the risks Different approaches and objectives lead to different attitudes from the staff who will be affected As system designers, this will have an effect on what we learn and the systems that we create
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