Digital World: Is Change Management Dead? | HCL Blogs

Is Change Management Dead?

Is Change Management Dead?
December 17, 2019

“There is nothing permanent except change” is often attributed to the Greek philosopher Heraclitus.

It still rings true today for organizations across shapes and sizes. Arguably more so, with the speed of change required to keep market positions and satisfy ever-increasing customer expectations in a digital world. Yet, organizations are often trapped in a never-ending cycle of attempted change, and unrealized digital transformation dreams, often looking for a quick solution to a complex problem.

Is it any wonder that fatigue sets in and change efforts struggle and suffer a premature death? It begs the question—Is change management dead?

We often hear from our client’s expressions of frustration: “We try, but we can’t implement long-lasting change in our business.” 

Multiple things are going on here.

Programs often fail, especially those with grand aims leading to disenchantment and disengagement, furthering the downward cycle. This coupled with the uncertainty of how to respond and deliver in the new agile paradigm, organizations are finding it increasingly complex to set up and drive change management strategy. The same approaches are reused in these scenarios, yielding the same results and slowing down the digital transformation. Investment in building internal capability and an over-reliance on third party suppliers thus, becomes a standard operating process.

Technology function leads the way with limited business engagement. In a digital world, a generational gap has emerged between younger, digital-savvy millennial and their experienced colleagues, with entirely different world views.

Does all this sound familiar?

HCL’s point of view is that the world continues to change at an exponential rate, yet change management often retains a legacy focus by not adapting to the digital world.

There needs to be a change in thinking through the traditional lenses of change management: stakeholder management, communications, and training. Instead, a shift to the idea of continuous delivery of business transformation should be the new norm.

In practice this means, moving thinking from change seen as a comms and training activity to a holistic exercise, used at the beginning of new ideas. People, not technology, are at the fore of thinking. It’s broken down into simple components, not delivered at the end of large programs. It should be designed to appeal to the human and emotional levels.

How do we solve this?

  1. Create excitement around the vision – start with the end in mind, create a shared vision early and write it down. Constantly revisit it.
  2. Invest in capability development – at all levels, from sponsoring execs to influencers and SMEs. Build their capability. Make them feel valued.
  3. Align all activity to benefits – ensure everyone involved understands and can recite the key benefit measures.
  4. Manage change quantitatively – track benefits and cultural change metrics consistently.
  5. Create an adoption mindset – get inside the thinking of users, and what would make them adopt new ways of working
  6. Build execution excellence – make use of leading-edge delivery thinking, e.g., scrum, crystal to deliver change
  7. Plan for resistance – expect it, and plan for it early
  8. Build sustainability – don’t employ a transformation team, instead work collaboratively with your partners to create a shared future together

If this does sound familiar, get in touch with one of our Transformation Excellence team, who can help you create new ways of delivering change in your organization.