Friday, September 18, 2015

Change Management in Digital Transformation

There is a particular mix, of the many things needed to effectively achieve change.

Almost all of the forward-thinking organizations are on the journey of digital transformation. Digital means the increasing speed of changes, hyperconnectivity, and always-on businesses. And digital transformation is the leapfrogging from the accumulated changes, so how to manage changes more effectively? Anyone repeating the 70% failure rate for change programs should immediately arouse some suspicion. This would indicate that for nearly 20 years managers have been condoning and embarking on something which is known to fail 70% of the time. Would we really have accepted such incompetence over such a long period?

Digitization in itself often requires huge cultural change: Change Management is seldom effective because many companies try to build a highly valued building before ensuring there is a sufficient "foundation" to support them (define, specify, prioritize, prepare, execute, implement and stabilize/consolidate, harvest or forming, storming, norming and performing.) If the digital transformation does not succeed in changing the mindset, beliefs, and behaviors of management, the change efforts will be deemed to fail. Even optimized processes and smart tools ain't bringing the expected effects if not driven by dedicated professionals - therefore, select potentials, reform them, then go by such multiplicators. So if you have the right balanced insight, knowledge, and experience needed to create trust and confidence and believe that we are all in this together in the same boat, then, employees should not show resistance, and then you can utilize tools to help with efficiency, communication, structure, and control, but you need to get the basics right first.

Involvement is the key: Change delivery performance is often blunted by poor disciplines, organizational culture and lack of competency. The trick is also to find the balance between Change direction control and real involvement of the affected employees. Change is a dance between top management and the affected parts of the organization where it must be clear who is responsible for what part of the Change. Digital is good at and for crunching numbers and analyzing, dissecting, and even fast and wide dissemination, but it does not really mean to automatically build the trust and empathy needed to bring people along and engage them.

There is a particular mix of the many things needed to effectively achieve change: As with all change management, whether this might be a successful mix or otherwise will depend on an individual’s perspective of view about the right mix and relative importance of ingredients. Before managers learn to manage/lead the way from start to end, they can not enlighten employees on the current (as-is) situation, the future (to be) situation. Vision, the current and future mission, the path/plan/ strategy/program/ project on how to get from current to future situation and mission and the value/benefit of "walking the talk"/executing the change. That said how should employees ever trust and have confidence in the digital journey, they must walk together as a team/group/company in order to create the desired successes and benefits - especially if their experience tells them that they too often walk alone in the dark too much of the often insufficient time.

Tools (systems/solutions) for Change Management are capable of increasing speed and consistency (identical repetitions): Information, preferably structured and focus, cut to fit the need or at least prioritized to fit the need, will be extremely valuable if used for the purpose it's created for. Acceptance of digitization and tools will succeed only when there is a ''buy-in'' across levels right till the last link of the chain. Often the knowledge of and appreciation for digitized tools and their effectiveness is not the same between the top management and the levels below. Organizations need to have the tenacity to train, audit, review, and handhold until it becomes the organizational culture to use the tools.

The challenge is to "Talk the Walk," rather than "Walk the Talk," in other words, practice first, then share: We have problems with the changes management when the project moves from the design phase to exploration. Different procedures and owners of processes are different. While there is a need for the inside-out approach and outside-in approach to change, it is critical to making personal transformation at the core of the change process. Any strategy and model have limited utility unless each individual decides to change, owns the process of change, and take the adventure into inner landscapes. No change can be forced, let it unfold. A change management facilitator needs to be a "Non-Doer" as expressed in Tao.

The other pitfall for Change Management is that most change projects overspend their budgets: This is true because people are very bad at estimating. However, when sponsoring projects, executives know this and mentally make an adjustment for the overspending when approving the understated amount. Unless there is naive behavior, the impact of overspending is rarely significant to most organizations. The last area where you could identify failure is that the business outcomes have not been achieved. Leaders as Change Agent, you need to be clear about the state of the performance.

There is no panacea, no magic bullet with regards to change management. Statistically, about 70% of change initiatives fail, rather, they fail to meet stakeholders’ expectations. A subtle but significant difference in meaning. Working with expectations may make it impossible to compare between organizations as the expectations will be contextual and possibly subjective. This would make it virtually impossible to determine if an approach to change is better than another in terms of outcomes as expectations are the success measure. This would be a nightmare for those promoting services, methodologies, etc. However, generally, we are much better at it than some would like us to believe. The only way forward for real change to be effective is if ALL the Senior Executives have bought into the change and fully support it. Changes are part of a well thought out and planned strategy. The planning of a strategy is an evolving animal, that is why it must be revisited regularly and the changes made are communicated properly and effectively.


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