What is change?

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light-blur-abstract-road-car-night-1023281-pxhere.comThe talk about change is everywhere. “Embrace the change”, “holistic change management”, “dealing with change” and “change-driven project management” have a permanent place in the business memes hall of fame. What is change?

Simply put, change is a transition from one state to another.

In business analysis terms, change is a transition from “current state” to “future state”. If we have agreed what the “current state” is, and where should the change lead us (to the “future state”), then we are dealing with a controlled, or initiated change. If we manage the change well, we should arrive at the place we intended – the “future state”.

More drawingsOn the other side, there is a “constant change” that we are subjected to, and that we have no control over. These are all external changes in our environment and the world around us, and because this world is so complex, it is not possible to predict the changes or control them.

There may be many people, departments and roles in an organization that constantly monitor and evaluate external changes and their impact – marketing, regulatory, and strategic planning come to mind.

But when it comes to the controlled changes – changes from within organization and driven by specific intent to implement the change – then business analysis professionals often become key contributors. Business analysts assess current state and its problems and gaps, and then help stakeholders identify the desired future state, and what are the options of getting there.

Implementing the desired changes is achieved by a set of controlled activities  and can be called many names, such as “change management” or “project management”.

Dealing with external changes that we have no control over is dealing with uncertainty, in other words – “risk management”. We deal with risks using mitigation, avoidance, reduction and other methods well described by the risk management discipline.

Wise organizations will understand the difference between “change management” and “risk management”, and will put an effort into implementing changes in a controlled manner, where possible, rather then forging head and then dealing with problems as they arise. Wise business analysts will gain valuable experience by being an active participant and contributor in the change management process.

Some problems cannot be predicted, and these are therefore risks to manage. Other problems could have been predicted and prevented, if only we took the time to do proper business analysis.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Reinhold Niebuhr

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