5 Keys to a Digital Change Management Approach

To keep up with today’s digital-first world, a new change management approach is needed.

In the past, change management programs were discrete, one-time affairs.

Today, technology pushes changes on us constantly.

Keeping up with new technology, cultural norms, and organizational shifts can be challenging … to say the least.

Developing a new change management approach will help organizations on several fronts:

  • Digital change management programs are faster, more flexible, and more adaptable
  • Employees, customers, and users will feed change programs, adding more value across the board
  • Organizations will get more benefits and be more competitive

For a digital change management approach to succeed, it should blend the old with the new.

Below are 5 keys that can help you do just that:

5 Keys to a Digital Change Management Approach

Change management is changing every day.

Others have also suggested new approaches to change management – agile change management, for instance.

McKinsey has also suggested using digital technology to empower new approaches.

However, before transforming your change management style, it’s important to build a solid foundation:

1. Founded on Tradition

Every change management approach should be founded on tradition.

The historical foundations of change management should obviously not be thrown out the window in favor of recent techniques.

After all, these foundational principles will never change.

Every change manager should start with fundamentals such as:

  • Classic change management models, such as Lewin and Kotter
  • Contemporary industry leading frameworks, such as Prosci’s ADKAR model
  • Obtaining essential skills and knowledge for change management positions

These foundational materials must be the starting point for any change management approach.

With a solid grasp of the essentials, change managers can begin to incorporate new ideas.

2. Agile

The agile methodology is based on an approach to software development.

This approach to software development has also been fused with change management.

Like lean thinking, mentioned below, agile prioritizes:

  • Customers and individuals
  • Responsiveness
  • Working products

Agile focuses on iterative development, cross-functional teams, and constant collaboration. Frequent inspections and adaptations are expected, making responsive changes natural and normal.

Applied to change management, it shifts away from long-term waterfall approaches.

Instead, change programs that use this approach are expected to be nimble, open to change, and responsive to feedback.

3. Digital-First

In a digital world, it makes sense to take a digital-first approach.

Like mobile-first, this places digital at the forefront of an approach to a business problem.

Digital-first strategies can be applied to:

And even change management.

When applying digital-first thinking to digital, the change manager should:

  • Make full use of digital tools in their own workflows – that is, prioritize digital adoption
  • Ensure their change initiatives exploit the best technology possible
  • Use digital business models, such as those mentioned in this article
  • Adopt digital cultures, workflows, and workplaces

The digital-first company will be more likely to succeed than those that resist change.

4. Lean

Lean thinking is another business approach that has become very popular in recent years.

Like agile, it is based on speed, iteration, and communication.

Lean thinking breaks down product development into three basic stages:

  • Build – The next iteration of the product is built
  • Measure – Feedback and user testing are measured
  • Learn – Developers use data and feedback to learn what works, what doesn’t, and what to do next

The goal is to shorten these three cycles. Doing so helps developers get products to market more quickly, learn more quickly, and create better products.

Lean has been applied to startups, manufacturing, and many other business processes.

A change management approach like this can help:

  • Develop change initiatives that are more relevant to employees, the organization, and its customers
  • Shorten project life cycles
  • Respond quickly to feedback and user data

Applying a feedback-driven iterative approach to change management is another key to creating cutting-edge change management programs.

5. Innovation

Innovation causes many of the changes we see in today’s economy.

New products and companies spring up, disrupt industries, and spur widespread transformation.

This state of innovative disruption has become the norm, in many industries. Digital transformation and digital adoption offer many opportunities to those who are open to change.

In fact, many companies are establishing cultures of innovation and cross-functional innovation teams.

This approach to innovation reflects a cultural shift – an attitude change towards change itself.

Rather than viewing change as something that happens from time to time, an innovative culture approaches change as desirable and normal.

To open their doors to change, change managers should find ways to establish cultures of innovation.

Final Thoughts

From innovation to digital-first strategy, today’s change manager has a lot to consider.

However, with the right change management approach – and the right change management method – they can offer significant value to their organization.

By shifting their company’s attitude toward change, they can help it become more competitive and successful in today’s fast-paced world.

Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.