The SEAM Four-Leaf Clover, Revisited by Susan Quint

Implementation of new technology is among the most costly investments that an organization can make, and cost-conscious managers are employing models of organizational change to ensure delivery of intended benefits within expected timelines. Organizational change models are applied proactively to identify potential project risks that may add to implementation timelines or increase costs. SEAM theory can also be applied to highlight some important factors that should be considered in planning and assessing the results of technical implementations. The SEAM four-leaf clover emphasizes that the inter-relationships between people, technical and organizational structures are a key factor driving the economic performance of the organization. Inter-relationship means that people, organizational structures and technology are not separable phenomena in organizations. Thus, when any one variable changes, people, structures, or technology, the changes can result in unintended consequences that may add to costs. These costs may be hidden in the sense that they are only indirectly related to the solution, and because the costs are difficult to measure with accounting systems alone. SEAM theory regards these unintended impacts as organizational dysfunctions, and advocates for active management of hidden costs to improve performance. SEAM theory also emphasizes the idea that technology is an inert ingredient of change. People are the active ingredient of change in technical implementations; that is, people have the potential to leverage new technology to create value for the organization.

SEAM four-leaf clover; hidden costs, organizational structures, technology

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