Today, change management and innovation go hand-in-hand.
The successful change manager is adaptable, lean, and digital.
The reason is simple … today’s world is driven by digital.
Study after study has shown that in today’s world, innovation and change have become the norm:
- Back in 2014, the world had more electronic devices than humans.
- By 2021, the Internet of Things (IoT) will top 46 billion devices
- The big data and analytics market will climb to $203 billion by 2020
- Companies that digitally transform achieve 16 points higher margin than their industry average
As we can see, technological transformation isn’t just a fad and it’s certainly not an anomaly.
Digital innovation is here to stay.
And with that innovation comes change and change management.
What Is Innovation?
Digital technology has exploded over the past few decades, producing the internet, mobile devices, and much more.
Today, we live in an economy fueled by innovation and change.
In fact, change and innovation have become part of the very fabric of our economy – companies that don’t change don’t keep up.
When viewing innovation as a source of change, however, digital is just one possible cause.
The classifications used to describe innovations can vary greatly.
Some models use industry patterns to describe innovations, others use change scope, and others use customer-centric perspectives.
Examples from these various models can include innovations labeled:
- Business model
Among many, many others.
It’s arguable that most of today’s innovations are technology-driven.
So what does that mean for change management?
Digital Technology, Change Management and Innovation
In short, it means that anyone involved in change must understand how to innovate with digital.
Change management and organizational development in today’s world require new ways of thinking.
Here are three points to consider if you want to understand how digital technology, change management, and innovation fit together.
1. We don’t just “use” digital technology, it’s a new paradigm.
The first thing to understand about digital technology is that it isn’t just a “new calculator.”
Digital is a paradigm that extends beyond the machines we use.
A quick look at your smartphone should tell you that digital technology is reshaping communication, culture, and our daily lives.
Two decades ago, devices like this did not exist.
Today, they are practically necessary to live, work, and communicate.
Such devices are representative of digital technology as a whole. And, more importantly, how the workplace is going to keep evolving in the years to come.
2. Digital technology drives innovation, which drives change.
From smartphones to chatbots to AI-informed UX, today’s innovations necessitate new modes of operating.
Take digital adoption, i.e., the adoption of a new technology into a business.
Learning to use a software platform is only part of the change.
From a broader perspective, we’re innovating towards new ways of communicating, working, and even learning.
Digital adoption platforms automate employee training and onboarding. Chatbots automate customer service. AI automates many, many other tasks.
Change management and leadership should be able to foresee the results of these changes with the right mindset.
3. Change management and leadership require an innovative mindset.
Conservative approaches don’t do well in today’s fast-paced business world.
Creative, outside-the-box thinking is what works.
It’s true that change can be scary and risky. But we’re entering another industrial revolution with digital technology.
To survive, thrive, and prosper, innovation is necessary.
Today’s change manager will understand the value of digital technology … and how to use it to effect change.
Despite the Need for Change, Innovation Is Still Slow
According to Gartner, just over half of senior executives have established digital business strategies.
This is likely due to conservative mindsets, perceived risk, and fear of failure.
The dilemma is real: make the wrong move and you risk losing existing business … quickly.
However, make no move and you risk eroding business, slowly. Until an innovative competitor comes along and eats up your market share.
So how do change leaders and change managers mitigate risk while still innovating?
One of the best approaches is to adopt the most modern approaches to business…
Stay Lean, Agile, and Digital
The lean approach to business advocates incremental changes, instead of radical, “waterfall” changes.
Like agile software development, lean is a child of the digital age.
It is designed with innovation in mind. But it avoids many of the pitfalls associated with traditional business practices.
In short, change managers can innovate “leanly” by:
- Putting customer value first and foremost
- Making changes in incremental stages
- Learn directly from feedback and analytics
- Using data to inform each incremental innovation
The lean approach to business development and software development has become very popular.
But it is more than just a way of building software or businesses. It’s a way of thinking.
Based on the idea of continuous improvement and evolution, this mindset fits perfectly with today’s digitally driven economy.
And, for any change manager or business leader that wants to lead digital innovation, it’s an essential tool in their change management toolbox.