Organizational Capacity for Change: A Digital How-To Guide

In the digital age, the organizational capacity for change is absolutely critical.

After all, in a marketplace that keeps changing, adaptability is necessary.

Organizations that can transform, evolve, and manage change effectively are more likely to succeed.

And because digital technology forms the backdrop of this landscape, we must look at change through a digital lens.

Below, we will explore:

  • Why organizations need change management
  • Why change management needs digital tools and approaches
  • The value of human-centered, digitally-powered change management

Among other things.

Let’s start by examining the capacity for change.

Organizational Change Capacity: A Quick Definition

Enterprise change management is the term used to describe organizational capacity for change.

For instance:

  • An organization with no enterprise change management has no formal structure for change. They may approach change programs by dictating changes and expecting compliance. 
  • Companies with basic or intermediate organizational change capacities will have established change management practices. They will have set procedures, dedicated personnel, and predetermined change processes.
  • Those organizations with advanced enterprise change management have fully integrated change into their organizational strategy and operations. They consistently apply sophisticated technology, change management practices, and expertise.

Change management has historically been a people-centered discipline.

By focusing on individuals, organizations can mobilize support, reduce resistance, and propel change.

This approach is time-tested, sound, and solid.

However, digital technology has augmented change management.

To stay modern and competitive, organizations should create a digital approach to change management – and integrate that approach into their organizational capacity for change.

Digitizing Change Management 

Today, digital transformation has become a central focus for many organizations.

This trend has driven many companies to rethink the way they approach change.

According to some research firms, such as HfS Research, success requires embracing a “holistic approach to digital change.”

In one report by HfS, they identified a few key ways to do that:

  • Embrace digital change agents. New technology, such as AI, IoT, and automation, offer significant potential returns. But those positive impacts will only be realized by businesses that adopt these technologies and make full use of them.
  • Create true partnerships. Value propositions must evolve with the landscape – today, cheaper prices don’t cut it. Instead, vendors and consultancies should act as an “’extension’ of client operations.”
  • Follow HfS’s OneOffice principles. This framework, developed by HfS, adopts many principles that drive success in today’s business: genuine engagement of all people and stakeholders, achieving continuous outcomes through embedding design thinking techniques, and building scalable digital underbellies, among other things.
  • Enable change management for digital labor. Agile, measurable, iterative approaches are critical. But so is demonstration – change management should be able to demonstrate the value that they bring to the table.
  • Drive real business outcomes. Ultimately, “outcomes are what matter in the end … the flexibility to put skin in the game with innovative and non-linear commercial models is as important as the rest of the factors described above.

These five points offer excellent guidelines for digital change management.

Guidelines such as those can be used to inform the development of an organization’s enterprise change function.

Digitizing the Organizational Change Function

Elsewhere, we have covered other approaches to developing the enterprise change management function. After all, there are certainly different methods for developing this business function. 

Here, let’s use the ideas mentioned above as a lens.

Here are a few ways to apply those ideas when developing – and digitizing – enterprise change capacity:

  • Implement and fully adopt digital technology. According to the HfS report, the “holy grail” lies at the intersection of these technologies. The most advanced organizational change functions, therefore, would digitally adopt and fully leverage a mixture of these advances.
  • Maximize relationships with partners and vendors. Enterprise change management, to fully make use of its partnerships, should use whatever means it can to transform business relationships into “extensions.” This can be accomplished through enhanced collaboration and relationships, for starters.
  • Promoting cutting-edge business practices. HfS’s OneOffice principles are excellent ideas to incorporate into any change management function. Emphasizing these as strategic imperatives – such as the customer experience, design thinking, and technological scalability – is a good way to get them on the drawing board.
  • Modernize and digitalize change management. Agile change management is becoming the norm in today’s most evolved organizations. Make such modern business models a priority, but also be prepared to demonstrate the value brought to the table.
  • Make organizational development accountable for its results. One way to demonstrate value and ROI is to make the enterprise change function accountable. Soft metrics and results shouldn’t have a place here. 

Note that these five points do not represent a comprehensive digitalization strategy.

However, they can serve as good guidelines, whatever the maturity level of your enterprise change function.

Final Thoughts

A company’s organizational capacity for change should continue to evolve.

The ideas covered here offer a few approaches for ensuring that your change function stays current and modern. 

However, every business should be diligent. 

Staying competitive in today’s economy requires continual research, improvement, and evolution.

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.