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November 14, 2023

Pooling Resources to Accelerate Enterprise Change Management

Every time I go out to dinner with friends or family, I see an opportunity to split two (or more) dishes to diversify and enrich my dining experience. While my wife is often embarrassed when I do this with anyone outside the inner circle, she too has become a fan of “splitting” and apparently reserves the right to partake in and criticize the practice as she sees fit. Despite my wife’s inconsistent misgivings, I have found that more often than not, dish-splitting synergy is prevalent, but you have to make an effort to capture it. But why am I blogging about this?

Dish-splitting is a bit like pooling resources in an enterprise that otherwise organizes (i.e., bestows ownership to) resources according to department. Pooling resources can make a lot of sense when budgets are tight, but they make even more sense when budgets are tight and multiple departments require similar skills that are scarce and/or expensive. My recent podcast with Dr. Monique Sendze, CIO of California State University, Chico (Episode 61) exposed me to a great example of pooling resources across departments to create an enterprise change management capability.

Dr. Sendze joined Chico State at a time when potentially impactful, vital projects within the IT organization were getting stuck, losing momentum, and not achieving their goals. Even projects that were moving through milestones were not taking into consideration the people and cultural aspects that needed to evolve to result in effective, sustained change. To get a better reading on the situation and hunt for ideas on how to proceed, she embarked on a listening tour across her team and university stakeholders.

She learned that only a few of her projects had active project managers, which meant that most projects were vulnerable to organizational distractions and obstacles. While a hiring freeze at that time prevented her from making net new hires to fill the gap, she saw an opportunity to rewrite more than twenty replacement hire job descriptions to re-organize her team around program and change management.

When interviewing the Finance team, Dr. Sendze found a wealth of planning and project management skills under the guidance of then VP of Finance, Ann Sherman. The two executives saw the potential synergy in pooling resources, and Sherman agreed that Finance team members with project and program management skills would become part of the new team focused on change management. Discovering vital capabilities in another group and gaining alignment with that leader was a huge step forward.

The new team’s initial focus was on IT projects, and they are making significant progress. As their reputation grows and results become evident, other departments are asking them for assistance to drive effective change. The approach envisioned by Dr. Sendze aligns with the immediate needs of the organization, while making a strategic move towards long-term change management. The program and change management office acts as a bridge between IT, Finance, and any other impacted parts of Chico State to ensure a holistic view of digital transformation initiatives. This way, Dr. Sendze is breaking down silos and creating a culture of collaboration and innovation.

Instead of viewing change as a disruption, the leadership team now sees it as an opportunity for improvement and growth. The cross-enterprise team encourages open communication, transparency, trust, and a shared sense of purpose, further enhancing its effectiveness. Just like that moment of anticipation I feel after closing a dish-splitting deal at a restaurant, Chico State must be excited about how it is revolutionizing its change management approach, turning challenges into opportunities.

Has your institution followed a similar path? If so, let me know what you’ve learned and if not, what’s holding you back? Send me an email at or find me on LinkedIn to continue the conversation.

If you’d like to read more about Chico State’s approach, check out this page on their website.

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