by Anthony Orr
Date Published July 8, 2024 - Last Updated July 9, 2024

In today's agile business environment, organizations constantly transform to stay competitive and relevant to their markets. One of the most significant aspects of these transformations is culture change, which involves shifting an organization's collective values, beliefs, and behaviors. The value of people—the employees who drive the organization forward—cannot be overstated.


The essential role that people play in organizational success contrasts with the roles of process and technology in the organization. Crucial is Organizational Change Management (OCM), a structured approach to ensuring that changes are smoothly and successfully implemented. Many organizations are beginning to realize that lack of an OCM practice significantly affected their past project success. This blog explores how culture change and OCM are related, emphasizing their value in all projects, especially IT Service Management (ITSM) projects.


Understanding Culture Change


Culture change transforms the underlying assumptions, values, beliefs, and behaviors that define an organization's operations. It can be driven by various factors, such as technological advancements, market shifts, mergers and acquisitions, or changes in leadership. Culture change is essential for organizations to adapt to new environments, embrace innovation, and improve overall organizational performance.


Vital Elements of Culture Change


  • Values and Beliefs: The core principles and standards that guide personal and organizational behavior.

  • Behavioral Norms: The accepted ways of acting prevalent within the organization to deliver value.

  • Symbols and Language: The visual and verbal elements that communicate cultural values, leadership and organizational direction.

  • Rituals and Routines: The regular activities and ceremonies that reinforce the culture.

  • Stories and Myths: The narratives that convey the history and values of the organization.


Understanding Organizational Change Management (OCM)


Organizational Change Management (OCM) is a systematic approach that ensures changes are thoroughly and smoothly implemented and that the lasting benefits of change are achieved. OCM involves managing the impact of new business processes or technologies, changes in organizational structure, or cultural changes within an enterprise.


Key Elements of OCM:


Leadership and Sponsorship: Active involvement and support from senior leadership to drive the change. Communication: Clear, consistent, and transparent communication to all stakeholders about the change. Training and Support: Providing employees with the necessary abilities, skills and knowledge to adapt to the change. Engagement and Participation: Involving employees in the change process to gain their buy-in and commitment. Resistance Management: Identifying, addressing and embracing resistance to change. Sustainability: Ensuring that changes are embedded and sustained over the long term.


The Relationship Between Culture Change and OCM


Culture change and OCM are inherently linked. Effective culture change often requires a robust OCM strategy, and successful OCM initiatives typically involve some degree of culture change. Here’s how they intersect:


  • Alignment with Organizational Strategy and Goals: OCM ensures that culture change aligns with the organization's strategy, mission, goals, and objectives. This alignment is critical in ensuring the new culture supports the organization's vision and direction.

  • Alignment with people's needs: Determining employee job needs and personal needs. Using the value of the change for job responsibilities, "Maslow Hierarchy of Needs" aligned with WIIFM (What is in it for me) in conjunction with the needs of the organization.

  • Engaging Employees: OCM involves strategies to engage employees in the change process, which is crucial for culture change. Engaged employees are more likely to adopt new cultural norms and behaviors, such as using the Prosci® ADKAR® methodology.

  • Effective Communication: Clear and consistent communication is a cornerstone of culture change and OCM. It helps create awareness and explain the reasons for the change, its benefits, and its impact on employees and the organization.

  • Leadership and Role Modeling: Leaders drive culture change and OCM. They act as role models, demonstrating the desired behaviors and attitudes.

  • Training and Development: OCM includes training programs to develop the knowledge, abilities, skills, and behaviors needed to support the new culture. Continuous learning is essential for sustaining cultural change.

  • Reinforcement Mechanisms: OCM incorporates recognition and reward systems to reinforce desired behaviors and cultural attributes. This helps in embedding the new culture within the organization.

  • Overcoming Resistance: Both culture change and OCM involve strategies to identify and address resistance. This ensures a smoother transition and higher acceptance of change and helps organizations understand the challenges of the change.

  • Measurement and Feedback: OCM includes tools to assess organizational OCM maturity, the current culture, and progress toward the desired culture. Continuous feedback and improvement are crucial for sustaining cultural change.


The Value of Culture Change and OCM in ITSM Projects


IT Service Management (ITSM) involves designing, delivering, managing, supporting, and improving the IT services that an organization provides to its sponsors, customers, and end users. Implementing ITSM projects often requires significant changes in people capabilities, processes, technologies, and organizational roles, making culture change and OCM critical for success.

Enhancing ITSM Project Success

  • Minimizing Resistance: Culture change and OCM help reduce resistance to new ITSM processes and tools. Organizations can achieve higher adoption rates and smoother transitions by engaging employees proactively and reactively addressing their concerns.

  • Improving Efficiency: A culture that embraces change and continuous improvement, supported by OCM practices, leads to more efficient ITSM operations. Employees are more likely to adopt best practices and utilize new tools effectively.

  • Aligning with Business Goals: OCM ensures that ITSM projects align with the organization’s strategic objectives. This alignment is crucial for demonstrating the value of ITSM initiatives to stakeholders and securing their support.

  • Enhancing Service Quality: Culture change and OCM contribute to a customer-centric mindset, which is essential for improving the quality of IT services. Employees are more focused on delivering value and meeting customer expectations.

  • Fostering Innovation: A culture that supports innovation, facilitated by effective OCM, encourages the adoption of new technologies and practices in ITSM. This can lead to more innovative solutions and continuous service improvements.

  • Ensuring Compliance and Risk Management: OCM helps manage the risks associated with ITSM projects and ensures compliance with regulatory requirements. This is particularly important in industries with stringent compliance standards.

  • Building Resilience: Culture change and OCM build organizational resilience, enabling the organization to adapt to future changes in the IT landscape. This is crucial for maintaining a competitive edge in a rapidly evolving environment.

  • Enablement of People: Adopt emerging technology and best practices to support ITSM areas, including Artificial Intelligence (AI), to support organizational performance. Successful AI adoption is enabled with OCM best practices.


Case Study: Successful ITSM Implementation with Culture Change and OCM


A mid-sized financial services company implemented a new ITSM tool to improve its IT service delivery and support operations. The project involved significant changes in processes, roles, and responsibilities.


  • Resistance from IT staff who were comfortable with the existing system.

  • Lack of understanding of the benefits of the new ITSM tool.

  • Concerns about job security and changes in roles.

  • Need for extensive training and support.



The company adopted a comprehensive OCM strategy to address these challenges and facilitate culture change for project success:

  • Leadership and Sponsorship: Senior leaders actively supported the project, communicated its strategic importance, and acted as change champions.

  • Communication: Regular communication was established to explain the reasons for the change, the benefits of the new ITSM tool, and how it aligned with the organization’s goals.

  • Training and Support: A robust training program was developed to ensure that all IT staff had the necessary skills to use the new tool effectively.

  • Engagement and Participation: Employees were involved in the project through workshops, feedback sessions, and pilot testing. This helped gain their buy-in and address their concerns.

  • Recognition and Rewards: Early adopters and those who demonstrated exemplary use of the new tool were recognized and rewarded, reinforcing the desired behaviors.



  • Increased Adoption: The ITSM tool was successfully adopted across the organization with minimal resistance.

  • Improved Efficiency: IT service delivery and support operations became more efficient, leading to faster resolution times, higher customer satisfaction, and better customer and employee experiences.

  • Enhanced Employee Morale: Employees felt supported and valued throughout the transition, leading to higher engagement and morale. Employees were more compassionate versus compliant in their role in the overall ITSM initiative.

  • Alignment with Business Goals: The new ITSM tool helped the organization achieve its strategic objectives, such as improving service quality and operational efficiency. This resulted in organizational sustainability improvements for services and products delivered and supported.


Best Practices for Integrating Culture Change and OCM in ITSM Projects


Assess Current Culture: Before embarking on an ITSM project, assess the current organizational culture to identify potential barriers and enablers for change. Also understand the organization’s OCM maturity level. Develop a Clear Vision: Create a clear and compelling vision for culture change that aligns with the ITSM goals and objectives.


Engage Leadership: Ensure active involvement and support from senior leaders to drive the culture change and OCM efforts. Communicate Effectively: Establish a comprehensive communication plan to keep all stakeholders informed and engaged throughout the project. Provide Training and Support: Develop training programs to equip employees with the necessary skills and knowledge to adapt to the new ITSM processes and tools. Involve Employees: Engage employees in the change process through workshops, feedback sessions, and pilot testing to gain their buy-in and commitment.


Recognize and Reward: Implement recognition and reward systems to reinforce the desired behaviors and cultural attributes. Measure and Improve: Continuously assess the progress of the culture change and OCM initiatives and make necessary adjustments to ensure long-term success. Consider creating a formal Organizational Change Management Office (CMO).


Culture and OCM next steps - Creating a Change Management Office Aligned with a Center of Excellence (COE), Service Management Office (SMO) and Project Management Office (PMO)


Establishing a Change Management Office (CMO) that is aligned with a Center of Excellence (COE) and a Service Management Office (SMO) is essential for ensuring a cohesive approach to managing change across the organization, especially ITSM-related changes. Here are the next steps for creating such an office:

1. Define the Vision and Objectives

  • Vision: Clearly articulate the vision for the CMO, COE, and SMO, emphasizing their roles in driving successful change and improving IT service management (ITSM). And how these functions align and collaborate with the Project Management Office (PMO).

  • Objectives: Set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) objectives for each office. Ensure these objectives align with the organization's strategic goals.


2. Establish Governance Structures

  • Governance Framework: Develop a governance framework that outlines the roles, responsibilities, and decision-making processes for the PMO, CMO, COE, and SMO. This framework should ensure collaboration and alignment between the offices.

  • Steering Committee: Form a steering committee comprising senior leaders and key stakeholders to provide oversight and strategic direction for the PMO, CMO, COE, and SMO.

3. Build the Team

  • Leadership: Appoint experienced leaders for the PMO, CMO, COE, and SMO who have a strong understanding of change management, ITSM, and organizational culture.

  • Team Members: Recruit team members with diverse skills and expertise in change management, ITSM, training, communication, and data analysis.


4. Develop Processes and Methodologies

  • Change Management Processes: Create standardized processes for managing change, using frameworks like ADKAR, to ensure consistency and effectiveness across the organization.

  • Best Practices: Establish best practices and guidelines for ITSM, leveraging the COE's expertise to continuously improve service management processes. Use the SMO to define a strategy for supporting business outcomes.

  • Integration: Ensure that the processes and methodologies of the PMO, CMO, COE, and SMO are integrated and aligned to support the seamless execution of change initiatives.


5. Implement Tools and Technologies

  • Change Management Tools: Deploy tools and technologies that support change management activities, such as project management software, communication platforms, and training management systems.

  • ITSM Tools: Implement ITSM tools that enable efficient service management and provide data for continuous improvement.

  • Data Analytics: Use data analytics tools to enable better decision support, monitor the progress of change initiatives, measure outcomes, and identify areas for improvement.


6. Foster a Culture of Continuous Improvement

  • Continuous Learning: Encourage a culture of continuous learning and development within the PMO, CMO, COE, and SMO. Provide opportunities for team members to enhance their skills and knowledge.

  • Feedback Mechanisms: Establish feedback mechanisms to gather input from employees and stakeholders on the effectiveness of change initiatives and ITSM processes. Use this feedback to make informed adjustments and improvements.


7. Communicate and Engage

  • Communication Strategy: Develop a comprehensive communication strategy to keep all stakeholders informed about the activities and progress of the PMO, CMO, COE, and SMO.

  • Stakeholder Engagement: Engage stakeholders through regular meetings, updates, and workshops to ensure their support and involvement in change initiatives.



Cultural change and Organizational Change Management (OCM) are profoundly interconnected and critical for the success of organizational projects, especially for IT Service Management (ITSM) projects. By aligning culture change with organizational strategy, mission, and goals, engaging employees, ensuring effective communication, empowering leaders, providing training, reinforcing desired behaviors, overcoming resistance, and continuously measuring progress, organizations can achieve smoother transitions, higher adoption rates, and sustained improvements in IT service support and delivery. 


Establishing a Change Management Office (CMO) aligned with a Center of Excellence (COE), a Project Management Office (PMO), and a Service Management Office (SMO) ensures a structured and cohesive approach to managing change, driving successful ITSM projects and achieving long-term organizational goals. Through strategic alignment, effective communication, engagement, training, and continuous reinforcement, organizations can navigate the complexities of change and build a resilient, high-performing culture.


However, with new technology capabilities such as AI, remember people are the heart of any organization, driving innovation, fostering relationships, and creating a positive culture. While technologies are vital for efficiency and scalability, they cannot replace the unique value that employees bring. By balancing the strengths of people, processes, and technology, organizations can achieve sustainable success and remain competitive in a rapidly changing business landscape.

Tag(s): supportworld, support models, service design, service catalog, service level agreement, service level, service strategy, service management


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