The relationship between Change Management and Digital Transformation

INTRODUCTION

It is no secret that digital transformation can provide significant benefits to an organization. However, the transformation process isn’t as easy as it seems. It requires more than just capital investments and the adoption of new technologies. The digital transformation within an organization involves many stakeholders, such as the operation team, managers, senior executives and directors. It impacts and changes the overall process or workflow of the departments and the people. Thus, one of the fundamental aspects that lies at the core of a successful digital transformation initiative is organizational change management. Companies who leap on board the digital transformation bandwagon without realizing the significance of change management will likely see their efforts and resources go to waste. 

Organizational change management provides a structured approach to transitioning an organization from a current state to a desired future state. It focuses on culture, mitigating resistance to change, stakeholder engagement, effective communication, organizational change theories, and models. As a brief introduction to change management, we will share one of the most notable and widely used models, the Kotter’s 8-step change model.  

Kotter’s 8-step change model – John Kotter

The model was developed by John Kotter, a Havard Business School professor in 1996. It provides eight sequential steps to ensure a smooth transition from the old to the new. The model is a good representation of change management, as it covers most of the essential elements, and it gives a holistic view that a person with no prior knowledge of change management can easily understand.

According to John Kotter, for change to be successful, 75 percent of the team must accept and be convinced that change is desired and necessary, which is why the first emphasis of the model is on creating the climate for change. The initial phase of the model addresses the common problem of resistance to change by focusing on the employees‘ involvement and acceptability. In the starting phase, the focus is on the justification of change to convince the team, getting the full support and commitment from key stakeholders and determining the vision and strategy that people can easily understand and follow. For small scale change initiatives, organization can easily adopt this model as it provides a clear description and guidance of the change process in a step-by-step model, making it relatively easy for it to be implemented.

Nonetheless, in some instances, especially large scale change initiatives that involve many stakeholders and resources, the eight steps change model is not a simple “plug and play” model anymore. It requires a certified change management professional who understands other critical change management topics such as supporting people through the stages of change, program and portfolio management, tools and principles for effective stakeholder engagement, and designing change management practices for building and sustaining momentum.

According to Kotter, 70% of change initiatives fail due to the lack of necessary preparation and the inability to see the project through correctly. In closing, either it is to manage unintended change or prepare for any intended change initiatives for the organization, it is always good to consider the importance and value of change management.

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