Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Mastering Changes from Multiple Dimensions

Change Management is a multidimensional management discipline and ongoing business capability.

The very characteristics of digital transformation are the increasing speed of change and hyperconnectivity. But change is difficult and has a very high failure rate. So, how to capture the signals of change readiness, how to improve change effectiveness, and how to manage and sustain change efforts multidimensionally?

Psychological dimension: Change is supposed to happen, with high frequency and continuous digital disruptions. There are both hard processes and soft emotions impacting change management effectiveness. Resistance is supposed to happen. People look for “What’s In It For Me.” Thus, it is important to understand the change from the psychological dimension. It is all about perspective. What is more interesting is what drives people’s perspectives. Are they just get stuck at “this is the way we do things here” mentality, or are they motivated to change for better with the longer term perspective? It is about individual mental set-up too, how can they move up from “FUD - Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt” emotional stages towards the stage of emotional maturity for changes? Given this, Change Management needs to craft and most importantly deliver clear messages at both the individual and group level, and most importantly reinforce these statements through consistent communication and action. Digital means the increasing speed of changes, it means that the management needs to challenge convention and break down people’s natural resistance to change or to new ideas; helping to deliver incremental improvements over time.

Structural dimension: Digital means the accelerating speed, organizations must become highly responsive to change and disruptions. Digital organizations have to adapt to the continuous changes via self-adaptability, self-renewal, and maintain the digital balance. Then, the new organic, self-organizing system approach to organizational structure could become a reality. And that will be a true evolution for digital transformation. It's worthwhile to explore new organizational structure models and be congruent with the words "change management"; and actually consider changing the model to meet what the future may be bringing. Generally speaking, the overly rigid organizational hierarchy will stifle innovation and decelerate business flow. Flatter organizational structures will help to speed up organizational response to change markets. The digital balance to performance management will need to have some combinations of structural design and incentive. Understanding the people and the organization through a common lens then makes it possible to turn organizational “theories” into tangible management processes that use “relations between people” to create robust management structures and processes that support self-adaptive problem-solving and build business competency.

Behavior dimension: Change Management needs to strike the right balance of “push” and “pull.” You can certainly change behaviors with the right push, however, bigger changes come with inspiring the mind and challenging winning attitudes. Change becomes necessary when an organization fails to meet its performance goals, probably as a result of behavior following a path of self-interest. Short-term behavior changes are common under pressure, but it breeds discontent and, in the long run, people revert to their original habits, most of the time. Thus, inspiration and motivation are both important to make change sustain. Change Management intends to change employees’ behavior. Behaviors are driven by attitude. Attitude results from thoughts, assumptions, and preferences. Those are the result of years of habits and reinforcement. Depending on the nature and complexity of change effort, behavior can be changed either through operational adjustment (updated processes or tools, etc.) or through transformation (adaptive shifts in thoughts or beliefs that result from looking inward and reflecting). Though you can’t change anyone’s attitude or behavior directly, they have to be the ones that change. Management, in fact, can set the right policies for motivating and rewarding good behaviors and discouraging bad ones because people’s behavior usually responds to how they are measured.

It is nevertheless true that the change itself has become unpredictable and evolutionary, as compared to treading through carefully laid down road-map. Change cannot be just another thing that needs to be accomplished. Change Management is a multidimensional management discipline and ongoing business capability, it has to be woven into the action, process and communication of the organization, it needs to become a healthy habit for organizations to adapt, grow, and innovate.


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