Gartner Research

Overcoming Change Obstacles in the Public Sector

Published: 01 October 2005

ID: G00131064

Analyst(s): Tina Nunno , Richard Hunter


Demands for sweeping changes in public sector technology continue to grow, yet change is increasingly difficult to implement. In the best of circumstances, public sector CIOs face an uphill battle when leading change initiatives. Some change obstacles are persistent and need to be managed or removed to ensure forward progress. Other obstacles can be converted into change accelerators. To be successful at leading change, government CIOs must learn to negotiate institutional obstacles while protecting the institutions those obstacles were intended to preserve. The shortest route to the change objective is not a frontal assault or a straight line; there are a number of better ways to get there more quickly and effectively, as this report illustrates.

Table Of Contents


Executive summary

  • Section 1: Leading change involves negotiating obstacles
  • Section 2: Negotiating people and political obstacles
  • Section 3: Negotiating process and priority obstacles
  • Section 4: Climb up a mountain and walk down a hill

Leading change involves negotiating obstacles

  • Public sector CIOs often face an uphill battle
  • External forces are driving IT change
  • People, politics, processes and priorities are obstacles
  • Robotics research generates an obstacle-negotiation approach
  • Obstacle-negotiation strategies accelerate IT change

Negotiating people and political obstacles

  • Internal and external stakeholders strongly influence IT change initiatives
  • Apply negotiating strategies for internal IT people obstacles
  • Apply negotiating strategies for political obstacles
  • Use timing and political capital to drive IT change
  • Overcome legislative, union and vendor obstacles to change through political savvy

Negotiating process and priority obstacles

  • Apply negotiating strategies for process obstacles
  • Negotiate financial, personnel and procurement processes
  • Address priority obstacles
  • Synchronize priorities: A unique cross-jurisdictional obstacle
  • Apply priority-synchronization strategies

Climb up a mountain and walk down a hill

  • Know when to apply each obstacle-negotiation strategy
  • Many obstacle-negotiation tactics are best applied in a clear field
  • Skillful obstacle negotiation institutionalizes a change culture
  • When leading the uphill battles of change, look for inspiration

Further reading

  • Gartner EXP reports
  • Core research
  • Other publications

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