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Change Management

#ChangeManagement in a Digital World


Business is changing, everything is becoming digital, even our cars!

So what does that mean to Change Management? Is Change going digital as well? Is it becoming easier? Or harder? Or just different?

We constantly hear about Digital Business and Digital Transformations. Examples of purely digital companies like Amazon and Google are often quoted, but we are now hearing about some more traditional companies like GE that are reinventing themselves for this Digital World. The headlines and news articles contain comments saying that you must make your business digital or lose out to new entrants, or your competitors. Companies are pushing for more digital capabilities, sometimes creating new divisions to pursue opportunities, but what does this mean to the business and the Change Management required?






What do we mean by Digital Business? 

“Digital business is the creation of new business designs by blurring the digital and physical worlds. It promises to usher in an unprecedented convergence of people, business and things that disrupts existing business models – even those born of the Internet and e-business eras.” Digital Business is Everyone’s Business – Forbes.

Is Digital Business altering Change Management? 

At a fundamental level Change Management has not altered, it’s still the same as Kurt Lewin defined it in 1951. But when we start to peel back the layers we begin to see some subtle differences.

We are still dealing with people, changing work practices, resistance to change, cultural impacts….. and it still comes down to W.I.I.F.M. (“What’s in it for me?”). But, Digital Business is about agility, speed, being fast to adapt, this often goes against the Change Management needs. If people are pushed to change faster than their instinctive response is to resist.

Digital businesses that are built from the ground up tend to be more flexible, as change is part of their DNA. They recognize that their business model needs to be customer centric, able to quickly satisfy new customer demands, and capable of keeping up with a rapidly changing world.

More established businesses have a big hurdle to climb, the inertia of their current culture. Or put simply, their current culture is limiting their ability to change. They do not have the flexibility or the capability to quickly change their business practices to match the new demands or outside pressures.

Change Management has moved from being a discrete aspect of projects you conduct to being an organisational capability that is critical to success in a digital world.

As a workaround many companies have created separate business units that have different cultures…… with mixed results, as the new and old business units, unless totally disconnected will clash at their touch points, causing friction and inefficiencies at the very least. So, as a short-term “band-aid” this approach has some merit, however, it does not provide a silver bullet solution.

Embedding Change Management into the companies very ethos is the key.


Related articles:

The Vicious and Virtuous Circles of Change
What Change Management approach should I choose?
Culture: The Iceberg that sinks Organisational Change

Change Management (Part 1) – Cracking the Code of Change
Change Management (Part 2) – Step Models of Change
Change Management (Part 3a) – Change Capability
Change Management (Part 3b) – Success with IT Change
Change Management – What’s in a Name?
Why are IT projects Change Management time bombs?
The Importance of Change Leadership – Beyond “Step Models of Change”
Beer & Nohria – “Cracking the Code of Change
Lewin’s (1951) original 3-step model of “Unfreeze-Move-Refreeze”
John Kotter – “Leading Change”
Martin Webster’s blog
Change Management Blog
The five motivators of successful change by Barbara Kivowitz


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