According to Time magazine, Merriam-Webster claims that the word of the year is culture. But Oxford says, no, the word of the year is vape. Dictionary.com chimes in with their chosen word exposure – as in Ebola.
Such are the vicissitudes of language. Nailing down one most popular word, for the approximately 430 million English speaking people, is sketchy.
Casper Grathwohl, president of Oxford’s dictionaries division, tells Time: “A word is just the surface of something that often has a really complex and rich life underneath.”
That’s how I feel about the word integration. It’s complex and rich with fundamental possibilities.
I remember the first time I heard the word integration in a corporate meeting. Teams were called into a small auditorium to hear about the future of the organization.
“We are outsourcing our IT division,” they said. “The integration of our data systems into a data center in another part of the world will take place over the next 12 months.”
Emotion coated the room with shock, fear, anger, suspicion, and doubt. It wasn’t imagination that productivity dropped off instantly as employees scattered into clusters where speculation drove anxiety to peak.
Clearly the next item on the agenda for the executive leadership team would be damage control. Having experienced similar events in two other organizations, I wondered how they would counteract this announcement that fueled chaos, but in that moment offered little to quell growing apprehension.
Clarity and communication with answers to these 5 questions might have mitigated the fallout.
What Is Integration?
Integration is simple to define but complex to deploy. It means taking individual parts and combining them to make a whole. Simple enough, but integration of dissimilar parts with dissimilar parts is precarious at best, and disastrous at worst.
Integrating one organization with another requires intimate knowledge of both organizations: services, values, capacity, deficiencies, innovative excellence, products, structure, economic strength, culture and nuances too numerous to cover here. Integration says together we are better than we are alone. Employees whose lives are about to be interrupted want to know their leadership team has considered all elements affected.
Why Is Integration Good For Us?
The future of operations requires state of the art systems to assure premier service to our customers. Integration with a data center whose primary products are systems and data processing is strategically the right move.
Think of metal alloys. Pure metals have atoms of the same size and properties, but in isolation they lack the strength and stamina of an alloy. When another metal is compounded with the single metal, the atoms make the integrated layers stronger.
Integrating our data center with one that is recognized for superiority and competence in data processing is a courageous step, and one that will have a positive, strengthening effect for the organization and protect the careers of employees.
What Is The Procedure?
We realize the season of unrest this produces and it’s unfortunate that there are no fast tracks to a change of this magnitude. It’s easy to wonder if your department or your position has been left out of the analysis. In fact, you might think you, personally, have been overlooked. In today’s interconnected world, it’s a daunting responsibility to identify all the processes, all the tasks, all the roles, all the positions, and all the expertise needed to assure a streamlined transition.
This is a bit like grafting of plants where parts of two or more plants are joined together and grow as one plant. Thorough knowledge of each plant is necessary in order to reproduce a healthy, flourishing hybrid. The leadership team is meticulously analyzing all factors across the organization to assure decisions are made with full awareness and levelheaded rationale.
What Happens To The Pieces That Don’t Fit?
Integration naturally reveals duplication of responsibilities and redundancy in processes. Just like in the reference to plant grafting, we recognize there will be overlap and parts whose functions become obsolete. We have a strategic plan for every person affected by this organizational integration. If your current position isn’t grafted into the root system there will be options open to you.
How Did You Arrive At This Decision?
These decisions have been made with the aid of business consultants, human resource experts, and strategic advisers. Change is always difficult because it affects individuals and families and further affects communities. As a leadership team, we have judiciously invested resources in the examination of alternatives and know this integration of our data center is the best opportunity for advantage and remaining prosperous and solvent in the future.
This article discusses only the handling by the leadership team in the early stages. The technique improved by the time they had repeated their presentation a few times. Vague answers produce instability.
Another factor, not covered here, is the overall reaction of the employees. The clusters of individuals discussing half-truths and feeding each other’s anger was a recipe for turmoil. That’s a whole other article.
There is a big difference between peacekeeping and peacemaking and it becomes clearly apparent when lives are impacted by organizational change.