Indian demonetisation – The perfect case study for change management!

Agastya Chandrakant via wikipedia
Agastya Chandrakant via wikipedia
  1. Right intentions – check
  2. Questionable execution – check
  3. Majority users agreeing in principle – check
  4. Majority of users suffering – check
  5. Lack of clear KPIs to measure benefits – check
  6. Project team constantly coming up with new ideas to tackle situation – check
  7. Obvious lack of planning – check
  8. Project getting muddled up in politics – check
  9. Benefits likely to be questioned – check

This in short is the story of every change management program and it seems a program as big as India’s Demonetisation is no different.

 

 

I had the pleasure of experiencing this change management program as a user and for all the right intentions of the project team, I was left with a feeling that this was not well planned and users were not at the centre of this particular change management program.

The project team (government) kept insisting that ‘pain’ is necessary for the gain – getting rid of black money.  As a user I am convinced that if better planned, the pain could have been reduced for the users.  For a program of this size, the last-minute thinking on multiple fronts was astonishing

In my discussions with various people on the ground, I heard various valid questions. Here are 3 of them

  • Did the project team not foresee issues at toll booths and other places. Why was chaos necessary to prompt action?
  • Did anyone not think while designing the 2000 rs note that the ATM machines will have to be re-calibrated?
  • Why were expectations not better managed? Why do the BAU ( business as usual) timelines keep changing? Why have few days become few weeks and now potentially few months?

In each of the change management project, users have similar questions. What seems to be common sense to them, seems to be alien to the project team. What seem to be big issues for the users are usually trivial to the project team. Project teams more often than assume that users have to suffer and make little or no effort to reduce the pain. Users in this and every case are sensible and want to support the change, if only they are shown some empathy !!

Note : – I am  not a supporter of or against the demonetisation move. My views here are strictly as a change management professional.

 

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