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Story of a change manager: Nicole Dutil

Published March 29 2020
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Change management

The current situation is generating a multitude of rapid and sudden changes that are disrupting the daily lives of businesses, individuals and families. We are all facing challenges of change like never before: isolation, social distancing, hygiene, job losses, travel limitations, remote work and virtual team management.

The impacts of the pandemic are numerous. As many business leaders, managers, employees as families experience various concerns and it becomes essential to support individual and organizational changes in order to adapt to them and reinvent themselves. By definition, a crisis is a transient state between two periods of equilibrium. It leads to change. It makes it possible to draw lessons in terms of methodology, organization, human management and oneself in a prospective vision.

That's why at Alithya, we have change management experts like Nicole Dutil who help us deal with any eventuality, every day.

How long have you been working in change management?
I have been a change management consultant for 20 years. After completing my doctorate in psychology, I worked for a few years as a psychologist as part of an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and then branched out into consulting on change management in 2000-2001. At the time, change management as it is known today was just beginning. Everything had to be created, it was very stimulating.

.What is change management?
In theory, it's pretty simple! The goal is to facilitate the adoption of changes that affect a large number of employees, whether it be new technologies, new work organizations or new processes resulting from a merger (for example). In practice, each project is unique and often complex. We therefore begin with a very fine and careful analysis of the impacts and the risks involved. Then, we propose a series of actions to reduce the risks. It is essential to closely track, and measure results regularly, and then adjust actions accordingly.

What do you particularly like about your job?
I particularly appreciate being involved both strategically and operationally. My current job is to assist management in achieving targeted benefits while helping employees adapt to the changes brought about by the new strategy. You have to be very attentive, be flexible and know how to remain neutral, but caring.

What is the difference between a change manager and a project or program manager?

We are complementary. The program manager draws up the project development strategy. They set the pace. We work together to coordinate change management actions with the project’s stages. Depending on the case, I also sometimes collaborate with the Human Resources department to support certain employees more closely.

Do you see changes in change management?
Organizational changes are accelerating. We went from projects in cascade mode to projects in Agile mode characterized by a rapid execution of iterations. Change management must remain relevant. It is therefore sometimes necessary to soften and lighten the methodology.

The secret is to know how to adapt and support our clients as much as possible.

What is the advantage of working for Alithya?
I am fortunate to be part of an organizational transformation team. I can not only chat with my colleagues, but also with technical people, and that’s worth gold.

It’s rare to see a company that places so much emphasis on change management. It’s rewarding.

Alithya considers this practice very important and therefore is committed to train their staff regularly, whether as part of the Agile faculty or by external organizations. Ten of our colleagues from Quebec City followed a comprehensive and very rigorous course for 3 days which will allow us to consolidate the services we offer and raise the standard of our change management consulting services. They obtained Prosci certification which is the most recognized accreditation worldwide in the field of change management!