Change management: A stepping stone to success
From a visionary leader to a genuine need for your product or service, there are some things that no company can succeed without. But when people think about essentials for a business, they tend to focus on tangible aspects; and while those are crucial to the functioning and success of any endeavour, the key to real prosperity lies in the ability to change.
One of the best examples of this is Amazon, which started off as an online bookstore and is now the fourth most valuable public company in the world. In addition to boasting of the largest revenue for an online retailer, it has homegrown consumer electronics, streaming services and even Academy Awards to its credit! It’s safe to say that Amazon has made constant innovation and evolution its very brand, and its success is no secret.
It’s no surprise, then, that hundreds of books have been written about organisational change and how to manage it. But despite all this insight into the best way to facilitate transitions – at an individual and organisational level – there has been little improvement when it comes to programs driving change. In 1995, research conducted by John Kotter found that only 30% of these initiatives were effective. And while the way businesses are run has come a long way since then, a survey by McKinsey & Company in 2008 found that the success rate of change programs remains the same.
It only seems fair for the change management process to undergo a change of its own. And while the discipline has steadily evolved since its inception, the need for an overhaul is greater than ever today, as technology impacts every area of a business, right from modes of operation to the needs of its customers and employees. Digitisation can come in handy in a number of ways when it comes to managing and easing change. Perhaps technology’s most notable contribution springs from the sheer amount of data it generates. Today, it is easier than ever to procure and analyse information about your finances, customers and employees. This data can then be leveraged for change management by identifying employees who could contribute to the process, gauging the scope of the change that is required, and the best way to action it.
But that’s far from all that digitisation brings to the table – it can also help ease company-wide transitions for individuals. Every great leader recognises that internal resistance to change springs from fear, ambiguity and misinformation about what awaits on the other side. Alleviating these is now easier than ever, as technology allows leaders to communicate details of the process and its implications on the employees in a clear, concise manner.
While data and technology can aid the change management process, it’s important to keep the conventional principles in mind as well. Before setting the process into motion, the motive behind any change needs to be identified and clearly communicated to every key stakeholder. Follow this up with an evaluation of the organisation’s existing position and resources, and how they can be leveraged to facilitate change. Then, formulate a strategy that clearly defines the method to be followed – while some businesses find it easier to break the transition down into smaller, actionable steps, others thrive by taking big, bold strides towards progress, just like Google did when it realigned the their key areas of focus by establishing Alphabet Inc. Irrespective of the approach that is chosen, however, each company needs to establish a set of short-term goals and milestones to track progress and keep employees motivated.
Above all, organisations need to establish that change is a continuous process, and not just a series of boxes that need to be checked. While it’s not uncommon to face obstacles along the way to growth and progress, a strong change management team, inclusive communication and proper training can make it a smooth ride!
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