Change Management Do or Die: A Strategic Planning Survival Kit

When the business environment shifts around you, it’s change management do or die time.

How is your organization supposed to respond when…

  • New, innovative competitors enter the marketplace?
  • New technology redefines your industry?
  • Shifting customer expectations reduces demand for your services?
  • A new generation of employees changes the workplace dynamic?

The answer – as you might expect – is change management.

But initiating a new change project is not always enough, especially these days.

A new product, for instance, may not be enough to compete with a new class of products.

What you need, then, is a new strategy.

Or a new set of strategies.

Change Management Do or Die – Strategic Planning as if Your Life Depends on It

Borders and Blockbuster weren’t worried about the new online “upstart” competitor, Amazon.

But it cost them dearly.

Walmart has fared better, but Amazon is still the undisputed king of online retail, at least in the United States.

The lesson to be learned from companies like Amazon and Netflix: change or die.

It’s a harsh lesson, but a valuable one.

Namely – change your strategy or go extinct.

New business environments demand new products, services, operating models, and strategies.

Below, we will discuss a few must-have strategies for today’s digital ecosystem.

Strategic Planning and Survival in the Digital Age

A strategy developed decades ago won’t serve you well in today’s ecosystem.

Modern, savvy competitors will eat your lunch with business models that are:

  • Faster
  • More efficient
  • More effective
  • Customer-driven
  • Based on cutting-edge technology

Below, we will look at some strategies that can help you achieve some of these benefits.

And, with the right strategic planning, your company will be able to survive and thrive, even in changing business environments.

Agile Change Strategy

Agile change management is becoming more popular in change management circles.

It applies agile thinking to change management, increasing the speed, efficiency, and relevance of change projects.

Change managers who follow the original agile software development model will have strategies that:

  • Focus on collaboration and communication
  • Stay responsive and open to change
  • Prefer results and positive outcomes over pre-planned processes

Flexibility and adaptability are key traits of agile.

Adopting an agile change management strategy will change the way you think about organizational change.

More importantly, it will help you stay nimble and flexible.

Employee Training Strategy

Yesterday’s employee training strategies won’t work, for a few reasons:

  • The digital skills gap is widening, increasing demand for digital-savvy workers
  • A lack of digital skills hinders innovation, according to many CEOs
  • In the coming years, the demand for digital skills will only increase, leading to the need for lifelong learning
  • Today’s complex technology stacks need new training strategies, tools, and techniques

For these reasons, among others, you should develop an employee training plan that:

  • Focuses on digital skills
  • Employs modern, effective training solutions, such as digital adoption platforms
  • Helps employees with career development, which boosts their performance as well as retention

It is important to tune in to the digital skills crisis and adopt a competitive training strategy.

Otherwise, employees won’t be able to keep up with the demands of the changing workplace.

Digital Transformation Strategy

A digital transformation strategy:

  • Aims towards digital maturity and the full digitalization of a business
  • Implements a formalized digital adoption function 
  • Dedicates resources to innovation
  • Adapts their culture for the new work world

If your business doesn’t have a digital change strategy, it’s high time to get one.

If it does, then be sure that that strategy is relevant, forward-thinking, and goal-oriented.

It should include many of the component strategies mentioned elsewhere in this article.

Customer Experience Strategy

The human experience has taken center stage in today’s most successful businesses.

Amazon is a prime example – the online retail juggernaut has shown the definitive value of investing in customer experiences.

A focus on the customer experience:

  • Improves customer loyalty
  • Increases purchase sizes and amounts
  • Helps to build your company’s reputation
  • Decreases friction from negative experiences, customer service calls, and so forth

Ultimately, the right customer experience strategy can become a strategic advantage in your market.

Employee Experience Strategy

Recently, the employee experience has become another hot topic.

Like the customer experience, there are good reasons to manage and improve the employee experience:

  • Positive employee experiences improve employee productivity, performance, and efficiency
  • Increased workforce satisfaction also leads to greater employee longevity 
  • All of these, in turn, help boost the company’s reputation, which then helps attract top talent

Regardless of your industry, attracting good employees is certainly in your organization’s best interest.

The right employee strategy can help you develop a workforce that works for your business.

Conclusion

The strategic approaches covered here do not cover the gamut.

There are other strategies that you can make more agile, digital, and relevant.

From marketing to internal operations, businesses must adopt the right strategies during times of change.

Those that do will survive, thrive, and outperform their competitors in the fast-changing digital age.

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.