Is change management necessary in Digital Transformation?
A short answer to the question of whether “Change Management” is required / necessary in Digital Transformation is a resounding “Yes”. Before we dive into the necessary details, let’s look at what is “Change Management” and how does it relate to “Digital Transformation”?
Change Management can be defined as the way and manners where an entity explains and implements changes in a process itself. Activities related to such may include preparing and supporting internal resources (employees), doing an assessment of the as-is (current) vs the to-be (future), defining the vision (of the future change may bring about), creation of a formalize plan or steps for the change itself, monitoring the change process and reviewing the pre and post changes measurement to ensure successful implementation.
In the context of Digital Transformation, Change Management is part of the execution plan and will require a change management strategy to help organizations achieve the goals while minimizing risks and disruptions when undergoing changes.
Let’s look at the ways in which Change Management can help in the successful implementation of Digital Transformation.
Defining Vision and Objectives.
Leadership and Management team need to outline and have a clear vision and objectives when undertaking a Digital Transformation initiative. The 5 W and 1H (Why, What, When, Where, Who and How) should be clearly articulated to ensure buy-in, alignment and understanding within all levels of the organization.
A detailed gaps assessment needs to be undertaken to ensure that we understand where we are to date vs where we need to get to, next. What are the technological gaps? What are the technical skills gaps? Benchmarking of maturity among industry peers is another indicator that can be considered.
Engagement with Stakeholders.
We need to identify the various groups of stakeholders from the Board of Directors, Management team, Line of Business Leaders, Operations team, Customers and Suppliers; all of whom will have different needs and expectations when an organization embark on Digital Transformation. Continuous engagement at the right time and frequency will ensure buy-in, support, participation and addressing any concerns / road blocked identified.
Monitoring progress against defined metrics of success.
Continuing Change Management in sharing the progress against defined metrics of success is a good indicator as how far / how much more to go in the initiative itself. Again, the metrics of success will need to be revised once success has been achieved.
Alignment of Execution to Strategy.
Once we have defined the strategy, teams on the ground will carry out the necessary execution and Change Management is key to ensure we are all aligned working towards an agreed end-goal in mind. Should there be any deviations, then we need to quickly align the team to re-focus their respective efforts on the right path.
Nevertheless, there are also some common pitfalls when it comes to doing Change Management in Digital Transformation, namely.
Underestimating the importance of Culture Change.
Whenever an organization wants to change their traditional way of doing things, we first need to change the culture by adopting new mindsets. Leaders need to openly talk about what is the new behavior expected, what is the new attitude when dealing with the new ways of working, what is the new culture of the organization itself.
Setting an impossible target.
While aiming for the moon or shoot for the stars will set a high level of expectations, at times, we need to be “realistic” in terms of time and effort to do so. Building confidence from the grounds up with achievable targets over time will ensure the capabilities are built over a period of time instead of a unrealistic timeline.
Change Management must be based and supported by Data.
All defined metrics, decision made, achievements must be based upon and supported by Data to provide the necessary transparency. People need to know, understand, and trust the data presented. This is to avoid second guessing, is this correct?
Miss conception of Digital Transformation is a short-term initiative only.
Once the organization embarks on a Digital Transformation journey, it is a multi-year initiative. People need to appreciate and understand it is here to stay. So, the sustainability part needs to be talked about and addressed from the grounds up.
Digital Transformation and Change Management goes hand in hand to ensure organizations can reap the benefits for all.