Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Change Agents for Digital Transformation

A change agent is not a title, but the game-changing mindset and the well-tuned skill sets.

Many organizations are at the tipping point to digital transformation journey, but what’re the most effective factors to transform businesses? Is it sponsorship, change agent, public relationship or incentives? The most successful organizations have a very clear vision and understanding of why they exist and the value they bring to customers and the very reason for the transformation. They also clearly communicate such vision both internally and externally. And then, people are always the weakest link in any change management effort, therefore, change agent is critical, as they have been an invaluable source of knowledge, business direction/insight, and support, etc. But more specifically, who are the change agents or champions and why are they so critical in business transformation?

Change/Transformational Leader: He or she is the responsible top manager of the organization, where change has to be implemented. Change the game is a mindset, such transformational leaders can provide the direction as vision, mission, strategy, as well as leadership skills like delegation, decision-making, and monitoring. This role affects most through congruent behavior, continuous endorsement of the change and regular communication to keep the momentum. This is a key role that should always be part of the team. It represents the political will to go for the change. In almost every case, where this role was not functioning, change failed or was at least delayed in a very costly way. The right leaders know what they want, give clear directions, bring cohesive process, and stand by their word and motivate.

Change Specialists: They are the people that stand outside the political hierarchy of the changing area, a cross-functional specialist, an insightful outlier, or an outside consultant. Main skills are understanding the mechanisms of change and human behavior as well as providing appropriate measures for facilitating change. Change management process will cut across several business units and the ultimate goal will be effective business operation. This role provides a set of methods and procedures to facilitate change, layouts, events, and PR. This role is maybe the professional change agent with a set of tools and flexibility to adapt to the various target organizations; it takes transparent approaches to interactive procedures and effective communication. Change is an unspecific way of saying the transition from one to another state. Whether these changes are related to IT, business processes or models, or value systems are not relevant. The mechanisms that have to be applied are the same. The right change specialists provide transparency about the tools used and the factors to be managed. 

Change champion: The protagonist is a member of the changing environment, the engineer, manager, gatekeeper, or similar role, which has a specific skill set in the field of the change additionally to the specialist knowledge. This role affects as a role model, an example that pulls the rest of the organization in the right direction. This role is challenging in two ways. On the one hand, it is difficult to push trust-worthily from inside, against the colleagues. On the other hand, it describes the following problem 'When it becomes necessary to drain the swamp, you don't stand around asking the frogs.' The right protagonist is the one, who is convinced of the change and speaks the language of the colleagues. They are the change champions, assist in resolving conflict, and pull the right strings to make changes go smoothly. 

Change Agent Network: Change is complex and multi-faceted these days, it is more than change agent alone that are essential for transformation. There are perhaps a number of people usually internal to the business appointed by an organization to work with an external/internal Change Manager and act as the "voice of the business," and be the conduit into the business to help with Communication, Process and Organizational changes, Training/Education, Readiness/Adoption etc. If necessary, organizations shall mobilize a change agent network- the network is a group of people integrated with the execution of the plan and who own the required transformation so that the change/transformation can be orchestrated via cross-functional collaboration and iterative communication, as without a clearly articulated reason that is capable of acceptance and buy-in by people impacted by transformation, you may struggle to bring them with you.

Motivated Change Players: An agent is one who acts for, or in the place of, another, by authority from him/her; one entrusted with the business of another.  What a Change Agent most often does is harness the skills, talent, drive, passion and enthusiasm of the whole organization and direct that to a unifying and shared goal. That then provides the incentive for the organization to succeed even the Change Agents leave. A Change Agent is a means toward reconciling all the different factors toward a unifying and driving motivation but it isn't the only answer. Some leaders, managers, staff, volunteers (The change players) can achieve motivation without a Change Agent, but a Change Agent cannot achieve effective transformation without motivation. So the real skill of a Change Agent is the ability to play any role and know which to play, and when. Every team player becomes a change agent, then change is sustained. 

Therefore, any successful transformation starts and ends with a clear vision of what your transformed organization should be. Change agents are the leaders, change specialists, change champions, team players who orchestrate and collaborate to accomplish the desired changes and transformations. And, the change agent is not a title, but the game-changing mindset and the well-tuned skill sets, to do the change and be part of CHANGES.  


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