A 5-Minute Change Management Guide for the Digital Age

Today, change practitioners need a change management guide that is modern, practical, digital, and relevant.

They need, in other words, a guide that blends time-tested change management knowledge with digital best practices.

A Change Management Guide for the Digital Age

This guide presents an approach that balances both the human side and the digital side.

To grasp a holistic perspective of change management, it’s important to understand:

  • Time-tested, human-centered concepts of organizational change
  • Change management best practices 
  • How digital technology can enhance change projects
  • How change management should be applied in the digital age

Let’s start by looking at change management in depth.

A Guide to Change Management: Bottom-Up and Top-Down

Change management is a business discipline that organizes, streamlines, and manages organizational change.

It involves the management of:

  • People – Employees, middle managers, customers, and other stakeholders
  • Processes – Business systems, procedures, workflows, and other established processes
  • Culture – A company’s way of thinking affects how groups of people will react to changes
  • Risks – All change carries risk, so it must be assessed and managed
  • Change Impacts – Changes often ripple out to impact the entire organization, either directly or indirectly
  • Obstacles – No change initiative is free of obstacles, and these must be handled to maximize the chances of success

Among other things.

As you can probably guess, change management is a complex field.

A 5-minute guide can certainly not substitute for real-world education and experience. 

However, if you want to succeed, the following best practices can point you in the right direction.

The Bottom-Up Perspective: Individual Change

Many schools of change management root their ideas in individual change.

That is, they are built upon the idea that organizational change begins with individuals.

To effect individual – and therefore organizational – change:

  • Build awareness of, interest in, and desire for change
  • Use feedback to optimize and fuel program strategy
  • Improve the human experience to reap bigger rewards
  • Enable and encourage action
  • Reinforce change to make sure that it sticks

There are change management frameworks built entirely around individual change.

For those unfamiliar with change management, this is a good place to start.

The Top-Down View: Enterprise Change Management

Enterprise change management is an organization’s formal change function.

A sophisticated, structured change function is considered mature.

A business that lacks any formal change processes is not.

There are different ways to measure this function. Generally, though, they fall onto a scale:

  • Emergent, or immature, enterprise change management – A company has no dedicated change management department, function, or procedures.
  • Basic to intermediate enterprise change management – An organization may be able to manage isolated or multiple projects, there is a dedicated change management function, and they have a track record of successful change implementations.
  • Advanced enterprise change management – At the most sophisticated level, organizations make full use of change management knowledge, systems, and processes. Advanced change management should also be fully integrated with organizational strategy.

To sum up, human-centered change management should be two-directional: it should enact change from the bottom up and strategize from the top down.

Digital Change Management: Data Plus Digital

In the digital age, change management is changing.

Although change management is still centered around people, technology is becoming increasingly important.

In fact, technology is driving many of today’s biggest change initiatives. 

This is one reason that digital transformation and digital change have become such hot topics.

Here are a few ways “digital change managers” gain strategic advantages in their markets:

Data and Analytics

Data and analytics should fuel business processes across every business area.

This includes change management.

To fuel change management with data:

  • Use data to fuel assessments and analysis. Data should power all assessments and analyses, such as: readiness assessments, risk assessments, maturity assessments. The more you use data, the more objective you can be.
  • Use predictive modeling to generate better results. Predictive modeling is used extensively to help companies compose teams, recruit appropriate team members, design change strategies, and more. Research predictive modeling to discover its benefits, then find creative ways to apply it in your change projects.
  • Collect data and analyze your program health. One of the most basic ways to implement data is to analyze your change project. Insights can come from KPIs, user metrics, feedback, engagement metrics, productivity rates, disengagement levels, and much more. All of that can help you adjust and optimize your project.
  • Conduct post-program analyses. After the program is complete, you can compile your program data alongside your outcomes. That information can help you understand your program inside and out, then learn what worked, what didn’t, and why.

There are limitless ways to implement data-driven business processes. 

Those listed above are a few of the most common ways that digital change managers are improving outcomes and returns on investment.

Digital Strategies

Data, of course, is not the only way to improve change management results.

Other ways to digitalize your change projects include the integration of digital…

  • Technology – Using cutting-edge technology to innovate, optimize, disrupt, and gain a competitive advantage
  • Adoption – Implementing technology itself, such as digital adoption solutions, to make full use of technology
  • Transformation – Changing the organization itself to one that puts digitally-fueled business processes at the center of its business model
  • CultureManaging and transforming culture into one that is digital-first, digital-savvy, and digitally-powered
  • Workplace – Employing digital technology to make the workplace more efficient, effective, and enjoyable

All businesses are digital businesses to some extent or another.

And it is no secret that the most digital, innovative, and disruptive businesses are also the most successful.

Implementing digital strategies, via digital transformation and other methods mentioned here, can help companies evolve past their competition.

Conclusion

A modern change management guide should balance humans and digital technology.

Digital technology can be a strategic differentiator … and it can help companies gain a massive advantage in their markets.

However, humans operate technology and they drive change.

For these reasons, change management should be built upon both pillars.

Effective change managers will master the human side of the equation, while still maximizing their technological advantage.

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.