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Change Management Principles for the Digital Age

Change Management Principles for the Digital Age

By: Ciopages Staff Writer

Updated on: Nov 02, 2021

Digital is not just a technology revolution, but a fundamentally new way of doing business, and hence the change management principles for the digital age must evolve as well. Indeed, change management is changing – for the better.

The change management principles for the digital age vary based on company-specific factors such as the corporate culture, demographics of the workforce, and the industry sector. Of course, you will need to adopt a change management framework, and craft a change management plan. However, knowing the principles that impact change in this new era will be invaluable.

The change management principles for the digital age vary based on company-specific factors such as the corporate culture, demographics of the workforce, and the industry sector. Of course, you will need to adopt a change management model, and craft a change management plan. However, knowing the principles that impact change in this new era will be invaluable.

That said the following are the essential change management principles for the digital age.

In times of rapid change, experience could be your worst enemy. – Paul Getty

Eleven Change Management Principles for the Digital Age:

  1. Crowdsource ideas: Crowdsourcing is collaboration at its best and today there are many avenues and tools to crowdsource. Think causes, pet projects, creative endeavors, and all the way to corporate innovation.  So, in this digital age, crowdsourcing ideas and opportunities for change management can yield significant results. For example, crowdsourcing ideas from a group of forward thinkers on how a particular adoption strategy may work.  Or crowdsourcing ideas on how to fix thorny culture issues. The sense of participation and the feeling that anyone can influence and shape the change program will have several allied benefits.
  2. Shake things up: Sometimes, change does not come naturally. So, it is up to the leaders to question the status quo and change things up. In recent years, Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft has done a lot to rejuvenate the PC era giant and transform its ways.  In his book, “Hit Refresh,” Mr. Nadella writes about how he caused quite a stir by disrupting an executive retreat.  From inviting founders of startups Microsoft acquired to making executives visit customers, he caused some resistance and revolt, but at the end, all this was a part of changing the moribund culture. No wonder, Kirkus Review calls the book, “A valuable blueprint for techies and others in a culture-change state of mind.”
  3. Focus on experience: Experience matters in the digital age, mainly the omnichannel experience. Experience is not about the nuts and bolts of a process, but the feeling and being associated with it.  Experience is a combination of design aesthetics, intuitive user workflow, seamless transition between tasks and channels, personalization of the process, and overall feeling.  It applies to redefining industries like Uber as well as refining patient-centric processes at a hospital.  Change management gurus must draw from these lessons and make experience design a central theme of the change management program.
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  4. Tap into the Tribes: The wisdom of the past has been all about demographics – a cohort of similar age or background – and addressing the needs of these relatively homogeneous groups was the way to launch and succeed at change programs.  However, today interest groups and tribes are probably more closely associated with how they behave than just age, language, religion, or region.  A 45-year old comic book fan may think similarly as a 23-year old comic book fan. Likewise, in companies, the traditional segmenting was something like “blue collar workers” and ‘white collar workers” or “management” and “worker bees.”  But today, paying attention to the tribes – either formal or informal group of employees who share common interests, beliefs, and values – will be a powerful way to customize and personalize the change programs based on the traits of these groups.
  5. Change as an integral part of the culture: If change is an artificial appendage, there is a risk of it falling off after the high impact period. Instead, if a company not just survives, but thrives on change, it may weather the storm better. For example, consulting firms redeploy toward new and emerging capabilities better than some of the dyed-in-the-wool old-school behemoths in the industrial sector.  Remember the transition and coalescing around Y2K to Web 1.0 to the present Digital wave.  Or practices focused on regulatory compliance that changes every few years. So, consultants expect to renew and reapply their skills and competencies as a part of the natural evolution of being in the consulting profession.
  6. Keep the message concise, coherent, and compelling: In Silicon Valley, it is called the elevator pitch.  In less than the time it takes you to complete an elevator ride, can you concisely state the rationale for the change and the benefits from it? If the message is muddled, the rationale generic, and the outcomes ambiguous, it is difficult to motivate the rank and file.
  7. Use all mediums for the message: It is vital for change management to become an omnichannel paradigm. Whether it is internal communications tools like Slack or HipChat, display panels lining the corridors, audio, video, fireside chats, or whatever works. It is essential to reach people through various means but focused on a single coherent message.
  8. Interactive Interactions:  One-way pontification should be out the door. If employees can engage actively, and better still contribute to the change program, the odds of success increase exponentially.  Whether it is sharing of small wins, documenting the experience of employees in the trenches, or Q&A with the transformation leaders, interactive engagement helps.
  9. Be honest and transparent: Not everything will go well all the time. Be comfortable sharing the bad news when you must. Times of crisis can become opportunities for collaboration and co-creation and come together.  Transparency and honesty are better than trying to plug the leaks on the Titanic as inevitably news flows – whether it is good or bad.
  10. Instill a sense of urgency: Change tomorrow or a year from now may not be enough.  Instilling a sense of urgency with a thoughtful plan – aggressive yet achievable – is one of the essential change management principles in the digital age.
  11. Make Change a Cause:  Today’s workforce, mainly the millennials are motivated by a higher purpose than just a paycheck.  For example, making customer lives better may resonate well rather than squeezing the last basis point of margin from a transaction.

Did we miss any other significant Change Management Principles for the Digital Age? Please share with us.

Learn more about Change Management:

What is Change Management?

A Comprehensive Overview of Change Management

Why should Leadership drive Change Management?

How has Change Management changed in the digital age?

Who are some of the Top Change Management Thought Leaders?

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