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In a business context, does it matter if a process or system is well liked by those who use it?

It’s understandable that for customer facing processes or interactions, you need your customers to feel broadly happy with how they interact with you: if they’re not happy with (say) your customer service processes, they won’t likely buy from you again, or won’t buy as much.

In a back-office context though, does this matter?  You’ll often hear change management experts talk about ‘bringing people on a journey’ – from initially being disinterested or hostile, to become supporters or advocates of a process or system: but why bother?  What should a business care whether their employees like, or do not like the tools they have to use to either do their job, or administrate their job? If the process is mandatory and essential, it shouldn’t matter whether they ‘support’ the change.

Getting people to ‘like’ and feel positive about an impending change is a difficult problem to crack, one linked (in my view) to the wider culture and general ‘health’ of a business. You won’t solve one without the other (least not in the long term)

There’s a hierarchy of difficulty here:

  1. back-office mandatory systems and processes (easiest),
  2. back-office optional or broadly ‘helpful’ systems or processes (less easy),
  3. customer facing mandatory (more difficult)
  4. and finally customer facing and optional (difficult).

Getting ‘free’ folks to do something optional, whether beneficial or not is most difficult – you don’t get to control 8 hours of their time on a daily basis, so you need to know how to influence them.

I never really see change management (as a discipline) structured in this way –but this pragmatic approach to programmes of change management will ultimately be cheaper and much less painful than a full-fat approach.