Achieving Digital Resiliency and Agility with Organizational Change Management

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Read more about author Stefanie Gunia.

IDC’s recent Future Enterprise Resiliency and Spending survey found that 65% of global decision-makers expect concerns about supply chain disruption, inflation, labor shortages, geopolitical tensions, and COVID variants to continue restraining the pace of recovery in global economic activity through the last quarter of the year and into 2023. The biggest challenge that companies face today is managing through all this rapid change. Proper change management is a crucial – yet often underprioritized – component of any digital transformation strategy.

Companies that want to thrive and grow in today’s fast-paced, fiercely competitive environment must embrace and actively manage organizational change. This article will examine how businesses can use organizational change management (OCM) as a catalyst to successfully execute their digital transformation strategies and achieve digital resiliency and agility.

Bridging the Gap: Systems Implementation and Human Adoption

More than ever before, organizations are realizing the value of having flexible, resilient, and robust processes and systems that can handle and adapt to abrupt change. When business leaders and decision-makers are tasked to drive business transformations, they oftentimes concentrate their efforts only on delivering results that directly translate into new systems and process implementations. Scenario planning, pressure testing solutions, and putting failure plans in place are examples of typical programs and processes that usually take center stage when a business is defining its transformation strategy. 

However, beyond how an organization defines processes and systems, it also needs to educate and prepare its workforce on how to implement and use these solutions. An organization can do this by providing its workforce with a comprehensive plan that clearly states the reason for the transformation, how it will align with the organization’s goals, and how it will benefit them. This gives workers the necessary information they need about goal alignment so they can better establish how they will generate outcomes and be successful in the process. 

An organization’s change management practitioner is responsible for driving this approach and ensuring the sustained success of the program.

How Organizational Change Management Enables Digital Transformation Success

It takes a significant level of change to implement digital capabilities across organizational structures, processes, data, technology, and roles and responsibilities. This is where organizational change management becomes critical. 

A company’s OCM capability should spearhead digital transformation, supporting engagement with employees in the change process and positioning the company for quantifiable success. In fact, with OCM, organizations are six times more likely to deliver on project objectives and have a higher system and process adoption rate. While there are several core roles within OCM – change practitioners, people managers, project managers, and sponsors – they usually serve the same purpose: coach and develop functions that are part of the transformation acting as change agents and inspire employees to use the new ways of working.

With that said, the first step in this journey is to define the transformation plan upfront. OCM practitioners should be part of the conversation around executive alignment, awareness, and business case definition. This helps them have a crystal-clear understanding of the reasons for change and the value it can bring to the organization at all different levels. 

All the OCM practitioners should also be deeply involved in design sessions and testing events. Joining every critical milestone and opportunity to collect feedback enables them to transform valuable insights into communication campaigns and key concept training; guide leadership to anticipate possible resistance; and help program leadership manage potential roadblocks and risks in a way that connects with users and does not dismiss their concerns.

Participating in design sessions also provides a chance to offer insights into the design of the solution. Understanding human behavior is at the foundation of what OCM practitioners do, so they may be able to identify opportunities to improve the solution in ways that will better engage the user, make their lives easier, and actually make them want to adopt the solution.

Take, for example, an industrial manufacturing company that wants its operations team to identify potential issues and address them in the field using connected tablets. Knowing that adoption will be a challenge, the OCM team taps into user needs and recommends a dashboard to gamify the software application and track the team’s metrics, motivating them to beat their personal best. The management team gets more efficient operations, and the operations team gets an engaging way to take ownership of their performance.

How OCM Helps Improve Resiliency and Agility

Remaining competitive in today’s business climate requires organizations to be able to quickly adapt to ongoing change. Globalization, economic uncertainty, and new technological advancements require fast change and action, or they risk falling behind.

OCM provides the roadmap for handling uncertainty and change throughout a company’s transformation roadmap and helps to build a culture of resiliency and agility. Achieving this level of agility requires change practitioners to obtain strong sponsorship and support from leadership; identify and coach change agents throughout the organization to spearhead the initiatives across all business units. This also entails creating an effective communication strategy that fosters a two-way dialogue between employees and change agents; as well as evaluating past change initiatives to identify areas for improvement.

OCM is the glue holding a company’s programs together. Not only does it ensure the organization is prepared for change, but also that its people are properly brought along on each step of the journey. An organization that can adapt to change will benefit from employees that are prepared to support the strategic objectives, adapt to digital transformations and respond better during potentially difficult times.

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