Managing change in the digital age requires careful strategy, planning, and execution.
As Benjamin Franklin said, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”
This quote holds true in many areas of life, including change management.
However, organizational change can seem overwhelming … where do you even begin?
In this article, we’ll cover a 3-pronged strategy that can help businesses wrap their heads around managing change.
Namely, we’ll look at:
- How a human-centered approach can reduce obstacles to change, improve results, and streamline change projects
- What change management knowledge is, why it works, and how to acquire it
- Why a digital strategy is a must, and what steps you can take at the outset
Let’s get started.
Managing Change: A 3-Point Strategy
A 3-pointed approach may seem oversimplified at first glance.
However, each step listed below offers plenty of stepping stones for further exploration.
To begin, let’s examine why human-centricity is so critical for managing change.
1. Human-Centered Design
Change management is centered around and driven by people.
These axioms can help explain why human-centricity is so important in change management:
- Individual employees run organizations. This statement is obvious, but easily forgotten when designing change programs. Inexperienced managers will often mandate change, which can produce resistance, resentment, and other negative reactions.
- Their feedback, support, and productivity is necessary to effect change. This essential truth forms the core part of most change management training programs, as discussed below. It means that change managers must make it a top priority to obtain support, boost morale, and maintain momentum.
- To succeed, change programs should be driven by humans’ feedback, input, and data. From a top-down perspective, change initiatives are driven by organizational strategy. However, change managers must help that top-down strategy meet employees in the middle.
Here are a few tips for designing change that puts humans at the center:
- Create a 2-way communication strategy
- Design change that benefits employees as well as the organization
- Reduce workloads as much as possible by, for instance, offering employee training programs
Taking this approach will help you gain employee support, while reducing resistance and feelings of alienation.
2. Knowledge-Driven Change Processes
Change management knowledge is critical for serious change endeavors.
Organizational change professionals, for instance, will acquire thorough knowledge in areas such as:
- Organizational structure
- Types of organizational change
- An understanding of organizational culture and the people side of change
- Understanding success factors, as well as impediments to change
- Knowledge of change management tools, processes, techniques, methods, and systems
These and other areas help change professionals develop effective, successful change strategies, projects, and programs.
The question for most organizations should be – how to acquire this knowledge?
There are a few ways:
- Outsource change management. Change management consultancies and other third-party companies can provide “change as a service.” This can be useful for short-term projects, but it may not be sustainable or profitable in the long run.
- Hire professional, experienced change managers. Another option is to hire experienced professionals. The right talent can help develop enterprise change capacity and guide an organization through transformative change efforts.
- Educate in-house staff. Yet another option is to offer training, education, and certification to existing personnel. This approach is the least expensive of the three. However, in-house staff would lack the experience of third-party vendors or experienced professionals.
Each organization has its own needs and is at a different stage in its growth.
Such factors can help a company determine the right approach to acquiring change management knowledge.
3. A Digital Strategy
Finally, a digital change strategy is paramount, especially for organizations that are digitizing.
A digital change strategy entails a few things, such as:
- Adopting the latest digital tools, software, and technology. Businesses must adopt technology that keeps them current, relevant, and competitive. Today, software can offer advantages in virtually every area, including change management itself. Tools such as digital adoption platforms, for instance, can greatly enhance user onboarding, training, and software adoption.
- Integrating digital practices, workflows, culture, and processes into the business. Digital technology has introduced a variety of new workflows into the modern business. Online collaboration and remote working, for example, were not possible before the internet.
- Developing forward-thinking change that will keep the organization competitive today and tomorrow. Change is not slowing down – it is speeding up. This means that the fastest, most adaptive organizations will win.
Successfully managing change, therefore, means:
- Implementing software that improves business processes
- Staying adaptable and flexible
- Changing and adapting continuously
- Preparing for tomorrow’s marketplace
Businesses do not need to become IT companies. And change managers do not need to become technology experts.
However, effective change should bridge the gap between people and technology.
The three points mentioned here should offer a good launchpad for managing change in the digital age.
Namely, businesses should develop human-centric change efforts.
Those initiatives should be fueled by technology and steeped in change management knowledge.
This 3-pronged approach will help deliver results that matter, in the areas that matter most.
Namely, employees will be happier, less resistant, and more productive.
And organizations will be able to achieve more successful and profitable changes.
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.