The New Normal Christopher SmithFebruary 17, 2021

Change Management: Agile Imperatives for the Post-COVID Era

Change Management: Agile Imperatives for the Post-COVID Era

To keep up in the post-COVID era, organizations will need to focus on change management, agile business processes, and innovation.

The pace of change, after all, has been accelerating for several years now – and that pace has redoubled due to the COVID-19 crisis. In the years to come, many analysts predict even more change and volatility.

Agility and organizational change, therefore, should be a top priority for organizations, regardless of their industry or size.

Below, we’ll look at the factors driving economic volatility, then explore several actions that businesses should take to keep up.

Change Management: Agile Imperatives for the Post-COVID Era

The post-COVID world will be so different from the pre-2020 era that some suggest we are entering a “new normal,” or, as McKinsey calls it, “the next normal.”

Though the future is not yet written – and we cannot say for certain what tomorrow will bring – most research firms share many of the same predictions.

In the years ahead, for instance, we will likely see significant changes to:

  • Customer behavior
  • The competitive landscape
  • Business models
  • Technology

Crucially, these changes will not slow down after the pandemic ends. In fact, many firms believe that the pace of change will continue to accelerate. Accenture, for instance, has gone so far as to call the post-COVID period “the Never Normal.”

While COVID-19 may have been a catalyst, it is not the sole driver of the changes we are seeing today. 

A number of other factors will contribute to uncertainty and change in the years ahead, including:

Understanding the driving factors behind today’s changing business world is certainly important. But what most business professionals should be asking themselves is what to do about it.

5 Actions to Take in the Months and Years Ahead

Here are a few of the most important activities to pursue as we emerge into the post-COVID age:

1. Build an agile organization

Agile business processes are intended to be responsive, fast, and customer-centered. 

Redesigning a business around agile methods may be easier for some organizations than for others. But since change and volatility will continue for the foreseeable future, agility will not just be beneficial, it will be necessary.

Building agile business processes is certainly one of the most essential steps to take to creating an agile organization.

However, as most change managers know, employees drive change – and one of the best ways to reduce resistance to change is by cultivating a culture that is open to change.

2. Cultivate a culture of learning

Employee resistance is one of the most common obstacles faced during organizational changes.

There are several reasons why employees resist change. Fears, such as the fear of job loss or the fear of underperformance, often fuel resistance.

When the company promotes a culture of learning, however, employees will be more accepting of new ideas and new organizational change projects.

A pro-learning culture will also be advantageous as the world becomes more and more digital. 

In the digital workplace, after all, employees will need to continually learn new skills, new software, and new workflows.

3. Digitize the workplace

The workplace of the future is digital – and that future has already arrived.

The more quickly companies can adapt to that digital-first paradigm, the more ready they will be for the digital future. 

For instance, as we saw during the COVID-19 pandemic, companies around the world were required to adopt remote working policies. Those that could adapt more swiftly fared better than those that could not.

This technology-driven future, however, is only just beginning.

In the years ahead, we will see more disruptive innovation, emerging technology, and digitally-driven change. As a result, companies must build workplaces that close the gap between employees and their technology.

4. Innovate constantly

Like agility, innovation will soon become a survival trait in the business world.

Economic challenges, changing customer expectations, and increasing competition, for instance, will put pressure on companies to evolve.

On the one hand, this changing economic landscape will present significant challenges. Companies that have operated in much the same way for decades may have difficulty rethinking their business models and processes.

On the other hand, tomorrow’s fast-paced world will present new opportunities for growth.

The company that is willing to embrace innovation and change, after all,  will stand a better chance of thriving – and one of the easiest and best ways to become more innovative is to adopt emerging technology.

5. Continually adopt new technology

Digital adoption is the foundation of digital transformation.

New technology opens up new possibilities, but unless that technology is used effectively, it won’t deliver on its value promise. 

More importantly, underutilized technology will inhibit the necessary actions we have covered above. 

If, for instance, technology is not fully adopted:

  • Employees will not be able to innovate
  • It will be impossible to build a digital workplace
  • The organization will be slower, less efficient, and less agile

On the other hand, continually adopting new technology will enable innovation, learning, and agility. 

One of the best ways to start is by designing and implementing a digital adoption strategy – a program aimed at software onboarding, training, and implementation.

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