Keller’s ARCS model To the rescue of low self-efficacy in Change Management

Other students’ Blogs I commented on:

The focus of this post is Change Management throughout the IT Enterprise in the context of Keller’s ARCS model and Job Security.  The entity involves a US University serving a vast population of undergraduates, graduates, faculty, prospective students, alumni, and administrative staff from executives, white and blue collar workers, to retirees. Change, in this environment and for the scope of this post, relates to the maintenance and management of the hardware and software tools used to serve the needs of the entire community. We are here talking of huge technology infrastructure which covers local area networks, mainframe systems, an internet portal with multiple internet sites and domains, online courses and applications, physical and online libraries, bookstores, telecommunication systems, computer labs,    academic and administrative computing, proprietary, customized, client server, web-based, and other software applications, different academic and administrative departments, a centralized email system, and multiple other services which include payroll, ERP Systems, banking and other financial operations, vendors and CRM services, a major hospital center in New York City, research facilities, endowment management, and remote campuses in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Operating Systems cover MAC, Windows, UNIX, Mainframe, and others running under multiple versions. Change may be internally or externally instigated. Internal Changes can be planned, programmed, or accidental and may involve simple to sophisticated hardware and software upgrade, application enhancements, data or business rules modifications, or human errors. Externally provoked changes originate from outside sources such as hackers’ intrusions, virus infections, and software upgrade and patches. Current systems most of the times run under fail safe autonomic behaviors which help avoid catastrophic damages from data losses, prolonged service disruption, and real chaos especially for such mission critical operations involving human lives, real-time financial operations, privacy, security, legal compliance, and disaster recovery. Nevertheless, managing either internal or external change remains a real challenge for Information Technology departments and it is no different for this institution of higher learning.

The response from the executive branch to this problem has been to create a culture of change involving the entire organization. Gone are the days of casual implementation of changes sometimes under the cover of anonymity. Auditors come every year to verify proper change originator, implementation, and documentation. First, it was decided that regardless of scope or nature of a change, even in the case of an emergency, it must be carefully investigated, studied, and documented with regards to its local or system wide impact. Second, the change must be authorized after successful testing by competent users.  Third, every stakeholder or participant in the process must properly document, date, and sign up on his or her input in order to establish his or her responsibility and ownership in the decision process.  Fourth, the person who creates or designs the change solution must be different from the one implementing it in production. Fifth and last, the change must include the functionality for a quick reversal to the previous state if needed. My team, which consists of Application Systems Developers, had been using an Excel template and the BMC Remedy IT Service Management Suite (Retrieved from Other teams where experimenting with other tools to implement the same policies. While the staff involved in this change management process remains primarily experienced IT professionals who should have been wholeheartedly embracing its adoption, it has been nevertheless somewhat an expensive disappointment in many cases. The leadership had to intervene with new initiatives seeking to capture the essence of the mindset, attitudes, and behaviors with a system wide survey, adoption of Service_Now retrieved from  as a common tool for all change management, help desk, and incident issues throughout the university, and promotion of ITTL training and certification ( retrieved from ) in order to have everyone talking, understanding, and practicing the same language when it comes to change management and Information Technology.

The resistance to change exhibited was spectacularly more consistent with “low self-efficacy” grounded on avoidance of responsibility and job security than with the actual ability to perform the task at hand. The IT field is very tricky and sometimes scary for its practitioners.  For instance, an accidental or casual additional “9” in a program may cause a $1000.00 check to be printed as a $10,000.00 bonanza. This may explain the phobia related to lack of confidence resulting in low self-efficacy as we can read from (

Believing you can accomplish a task is the first step to doing so, and that is what self-efficacy is all about. On the flip side, people rarely attempt tasks they do not think they can handle. Allowing employees to master skills is a powerful way to promote self-efficacy. It would be in everyone’s best interest to foster self-efficacy in your staff and to steer clear of factors that erode their confidence.

The situation diagnosed here primarily relates to the fear factor in taking personal responsibility when things go wrong. Such a situation can easily occur by asking an operating system to “DEL *.*” (remove all files) instead of “DIR *.* for “show me all files”. In my career of more than twenty years in the IT field, I have dealt with poorly written, purposefully confusing or incomplete project specification by hesitating managers as a strategy to escape responsibility for missed deadlines, failure to meet requirements, or changing specifications.  The intervention of the executive branch spelled out above in this regard is strongly compatible with Keller’s ARCS model (Driscoll, 2005) which prescribes Attention, Relevance, Confidence, and Satisfaction as efficient routes to achieving learners’ motivation and effectiveness at fulfilling the task at hand. The bottom line in the specific case under consideration here consists at relieving the learner of the fear factor by inspiring a strong sense of empowerment with confidence and satisfaction through training. It is in no way less than the constant attention of every driver’s awareness to safe driving procedures, the relevance of getting home safely without being disturbed by the ever-present possibility of an accident. To Keller’s ARCS model, I see the need to add the guarantee of security on taking the risk of personal responsibility just like car insurance on accomplishing the targeted mission which is to properly identify, document, authorize, and implement change accordingly to established rules.

In his blog blog on Change Management, Mark Connelly borrows the following definition  BNET Business Dictionary which goes as follows: ” The coordination of a structured period of transition from situation A to situation B in order to achieve lasting change within an organization’.”  (Retrieved from ). The world transition explains the continuing temporary state nature of the status quo as a result of the dynamism of change. another blog by Manager Max  (Retrieved from  proposes communication, Learning, Organization, and Performance as  the fundamental components of Organizational Change. In an interesting interview/workshop with  Dr. Bernie Dodge, professor in the Department of Educational Technology at San Diego State University (  Dr. John Keller presents an overview of his biography along with a living introduction of his ARCS model as a mean to generate motivation  (Retrieved from ).


Driscoll, M. P. (2005). Psychology of learning for instruction (3rd edition). Boston, MA: Pearson Education.


One thought on “Keller’s ARCS model To the rescue of low self-efficacy in Change Management

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