In addition to this, the main problem facing any company today is the lack of innovation.
Companies find themselves in a structural block of all initiatives, due to an immobility of people, processes and the company context.
This is confirmed by a research carried out by Smart Insights where it clearly emerges that one of the main barriers to digital transformation (and often innovation) is linked precisely to corporate cultural blocks.
In a similar scenario, it is therefore clear that the changes and innovations undertaken by companies are often minimal with little or no impact in terms of innovation.
To give an example, the following are increasingly frequent and widespread:
Small digitization tests on individual processes and functions.
Make use of external Innovation Managers, agencies or technology providers.
Use new digital tools in “commodity” mode without adapting them and reducing them to the specific business needs of the company.
It is true that all these approaches involve an update of the technologies available to companies , however if the business system is not ready to incorporate them these innovations will tend to replicate the inefficiencies already present or, in the worst cases, create new ones. This is not corporate innovation.
But it is precisely in this perspective that change management today takes on even more value for companies wishing to innovate and embark on a process of corporate digitalization.
In this article we will therefore see how to actively and constructively deal with change management, how to design and implement it effectively to revolutionize processes within the company and be successful, regardless of the technologies used.
The term change management means the construction of a path of change that from a current situation sets a goal and a transition necessary to achieve it.
Introducing change management effectively involves the consideration of various elements. There are 4 pillars, according to the 4P model:
People: it means changing the mentality and culture of people, the most difficult and costly aspect. Effective change management aims to put the user at the center.
Process: processes need to be reviewed in a modern, effective and digital key.
Platform: s erve to introduce digital technologies in companies to support productivity, in a now mobile world.
Place : that is, rethinking workplaces with a view to activity based workspace and smart working.
A change management project must start from people and their mindset , that is, their mentality. Social psychology tends to divide the approach of people in work contexts into various types, placing the two antithetical positions of fixed and growth mindset at the extremes.
In the first case, we are faced with a static thought and little inclined to accept the news ; in the second, however, we are confronted with a mindset inclined to learn.
Change management acts as a dynamic driver , facilitating the leveling between the two opposites, offering objective measurement tools to which human resources must progressively adapt.
This is why it proposes objectives, times, budgets as the founding elements of a path capable of breaking down resistance and objections , and of bringing out the benefits of change not only for the company, but also for the employee.
Without the implementation of a new process, even the most innovative technology is doomed to fail.
In many companies considerable resources are spent on the purchase of ERP, platforms, IT solutions that should theoretically revolutionize processes.
On the contrary, however, a truly effective change management plan can be initiated from an accurate assessment of the connected legacy procedures and systems .
In recent years we have been witnessing a profound metamorphosis in the way we work and produce . Not taking this into account would mean putting a brake on the efficiency dynamics that govern company flows and, consequently, weakening the competitiveness of its reference markets.
Cutting-edge companies have introduced new technological platformsthatcombine personal productivity applications (the classic Microsoft Office suite) with the ability to collaborate and communicate in a simple and immediate way (as with Skype or Teams for example).
These platforms can also be used outside the office, thanks to the expansion of cloud computing with any mobile device.
A change management process, therefore, cannot ignore the introduction of collaboration and communication tools in the company that speed up and improve the usual business mechanisms.
The platforms mentioned earlier tend to marry with the new frontiers of individual and group work.
More and more companies are experimenting the benefits of Smart Working ; among the main ones:
Efficiency and savings.
Activity-based work includes physical and virtual places, where the challenge of change management finds a perfect synthesis between a culture of change and digital innovation.
Change management: because it is strategic for companies
Change management is an important tool for companies that want to remain performing and survive in a constantly evolving environment.
Change can occur in an organization in many ways: strategic, leadership, or technological changes.
In recent years, companies are seeing change management play an important role when implementing new technologies. Many people fear that as technology develops, it will steal jobs.
This often causes resistance to change in companies trying to implement new technologies.
By helping employees understand change better , youcreate a more open and change-friendly work environment. Change management can help reduce this tension and create a smooth process.
Change management is a formal way of communicating with employees. It tells them why the change is occurring, how it will translate into their operations, and what benefits it will bring.
Informing employees early on helps ease the transition and shorten the time.
Also, if employees are more open to change, they will be more involved in the process of making the change. When employees are more engaged, the transition can happen faster and saves organization time and resources.
By opening this line of communication in your organization, you can set a standard. Over time this will increase the trust employees have in the company and in the decisions made by top management.
People fear the unknown: Having a strategy can help reduce if not eliminate that fear. Setting a standard for change in advance and maintaining consistency can help create a more adaptable and innovative work environment and break down resistance.
Change management and design thinking: a winning model
The best way to manage the change process is the application of design thinking managed in an agile way.
Design thinking is a methodology codified in the early 2000s by Tim Brown, CEO of the Californian Ideo. It is defined as a human-centered approach that draws on the designer’s toolkit to integrate people’s needs, the possibilities of technology and the requirements for business success.
Design thinking is based on the principles of strategic design and therefore aims to find an innovative solution to a problem taking into account three aspects:
The human aspect (the “satisfaction” of users),
The economic aspect (“sustainability” and “profitability”)
The technological aspect (the “feasibility”).
This methodology is developed in 4 iterative phases:
“Empathize” (know the real needs of users);
“Define” (build a new point of view based on identified needs);
“Conceive” (conceive new strategies and solutions),
“Prototype” (test the solutions, initially sketched in a rudimentary way).
A characterizing element of this methodology is the involvement of a multidisciplinary team, to address a particular issue from different points of view.
The change process is linked to a process of co-planning the path: only constant and interactive work between the parties (consultant – company team – client) allows the conception of new ideas and innovations.
Design thinking as a sort of “brainstorming” between strategic and organizational nuclei and should be seen more as a practice of learning, updating and continuous generation, through dialogue between the various company functions.
While this approach, if correctly applied, is able to bring about a real change of mindset, the top-down approach, on the contrary, often leads to the failure of innovation processes.
Now that we have tackled design thinking, let’s understand what it means to manage it in an agile way.
The basic principles of the Agile method are iterative development, incremental release and the possibility of changes even during construction .
A strong emphasis is placed on comparison ( interactions over documentation ).
Agile in fact provides for a close collaboration between product managers and developers for the continuous testing of subsequent releases and the definition of incremental requirements and a close interaction with the customer to develop valuable products.
In practice, however, this application is not simple and experience and careful governance are required in order not to slip into dangerous “distortions”.
Design thinking, for example, must know how to be guided and managed, so that the ideas produced are actually achievable and consistent with the company strategy.
Agile, which moves towards greater responsiveness to requests, must not turn into a condescending attitude , losing sight of the real usefulness of the final product.
Within the company, this way of working should be integrated and sequential: design thinking helps to conceive, define and empathize an idea; this idea must then be built up and progressively improved through Agile.
Change management: what are the advantages for companies
Change management is able to bring numerous advantages to the entire company system. Here are the main ones.
Drive more successful change
Effective change management leads to greater realization of benefits and achievement of results. Building change management skills means having greater success on projects and initiatives critical to the company business. In particular, effective change management makes it possible to achieve company objectives, of maximize the ROI of managed activities and carry out projects across the enterprise with lower costs, greater efficiency and better overall user adoption.
It is particularly important for a company to understand the actual impact of new methodologies . Taking up the concept of design thinking, increasing the visibility of ROI allows organizations a greater understanding of the actual impact and tangible proof of how the adoption of this methodology can contribute to the resolution of many business problems.
The design thinking outcomes that we can count, such as leads acquired or higher adoption rates, are the most easily measured, but the most significant value is created by results that are difficult to quantify. Design thinking changes the perception and the way people feel and see things: ultimately, it changes people’s mindset.
Greater resilience and adaptability to change
Given the amount and frequency of changes occurring in organizations today, it is essential to improve change implementation and methodologies of approach. The external environment requires constant changes as people are resistant to them, are afraid and confused. A change management system is able to instill in employees a positive and proactive attitude to change ; so that these activities are managed consistently.
Telstra , Australia’s leading telecommunications and information services company, used design thinking in its learning and development function to create a 90-day “onboarding” experience to address new employee engagement issues .
The project followed the following phases:
Empathizing with users: interviews and focus groups were conducted with employees and managers to identify needs, needs and challenges.
Define the challenge: once the challenges have been identified, the objectives to overcome them have been defined.
Generation of ideas.
Creation of prototypes: tools have been developed to be tested quickly, in order to apply the necessary corrections.
Test: The program was delivered in an engaging way using person-based models to describe the onboarding path and the results achieved.
This design path has resulted in an increase in employee productivity; greater commitment and involvement of employees and better integration of new hires within the organization.
Lower the costs of poorly managed change
Many organizations have examples, or even legacy of changes that have been poorly managed, produced no results but created stress and confusion in the organization. In particular, the predefined ROI objectives are very often not achieved due to non-compliance with the changes implemented in the business.
Large sums of money, as well as energy and time, are often invested in some changes without making sure that employees and staff understand the project well. This necessarily leads to problems and inefficiencies. Change management affects the success rates of change projects and helps to save from the point of view of production and organizational inefficiencies.
Align organizational practice with organizational values
Change management also and above all affects people. Although a company is based on processes and activities, people are the greatest business asset. They represent the company value and the most precious element.
The changes are about changes to their jobs, and it’s critical to make sure those “resources” understand what their new roles are. Change management is consistent with the process-based culture and will help all members of the organization better manage their businesses, acquire more skills and improve overall organizational effectiveness.
Prepare the organization for the future
In every organization it is essential to exploit change to develop new organizational skills and competences because they allow the growth of the company and its future success, regardless of market forces beyond the company’s control.
Many sectors are changing their logic and change management allows to set an attitude to change which is crucial for the environmental context of modern organizations: those who want to remain competitive must anticipate change in their routine activities.
Creation of consistency and efficiency in the approach
Change management practices within an organization can be more effective when a standard and well-organized approach to change is in place as it affects the elimination of some resistance that may arise. Speaking the same language in terms of operational activities is essential to be able to set up a constant operational flow.
Building the necessary internal skills
Change management is seen as an essential organizational skill and an individual competence for employees. Change management has become a fundamental and essential ability of the modern company ; its proper management is a skill that must be developed by each employee as gives a greater sense of responsibility and belonging to the business environment , improves work output and personal satisfaction.
Design thinking is a methodology that allows you to build the skills necessary for change , as it acts directly on the culture and organizational approach of employees.
Considering a path of continuous change on a business process , in synergy with the requests and needs of employees, allows you to trigger a mindset and a willingness to change.
In this sense, design thinking is an excellent path capable of building the skills necessary not only to accept change; but also to manage and practice it.
The change management process
A successful change management process involves 5 essential steps:
Definition of the strategy for change.
Assessment of staff perception of change.
Design of functional factors and dynamics capable of involving people.
Implementation and supply of work tools for change.
Maximization of the return on investment (ROI).
This diagram illustrates the five organizational design enablers that are essential to support the overall change management process.
Without leadership support, stakeholder engagement, change preparation, communication and effective training, it is difficult to implement change, incorporate it and realize the benefits.
The first phase of the change management process focuses on finding the reasons for the change and defining the objectives of the change, which must be clearly communicated to each employee.
Subsequently, a reflection on both the scope and the impact of change in the company will also be fundamental: from an economic, technological, legal and environmental point of view.
The objectives in the context of the change management process are slightly different from those of a project management context.
This is for two reasons.
1 Focus on the real objectives of change management
The goal of change management is to change the behavior of employees and collaborators involved in business processes. Influencing change and motivating people to implement it allows us to ensure the success of the process.
While a project manager is more interested in the technical implementation of a project, the main objective of the change manager is to motivate and involve people in change .
Effective change management does not leave people behind; but accompanies them along the path by realizing the company objectives.
Very often employees are reluctant to change; a method that helps to eliminate this fear is the design thinking we talked about earlier.
This methodology is based precisely on the synergistic collaboration within a multidisciplinary team, where no subject is left to himself; but all are part of a process of co-planning the path that will lead to the realization of the objectives.
No doubt it will be essential to consider the technical changes as well; but the real advantages for the company are to be found in the ability of people to exploit new working methods and tools with greater effectiveness and efficiency.
The change management initiative must be analyzed under different aspects:
Organizational readiness : how quickly change is adopted in the organization and ability to carry out the change on schedule (speed of adoption).
Participation : ability to adopt new processes and systems (utilization rate).
Performance : ability to acquire the required skill levels or achieve the expected performance levels in the new environment (skill).
2 Reduce the risks for the company
Change management provides ongoing support to people, which reduces organizational risk and increases the likelihood of success.
If the primary focus of change management is the person, the secondary focus is to support the implementation of a business strategy. This is possible by managing everything that a change management process can determine on the organization and on the workforce. It is necessary to consider all problems related to:
The goal is to reduce the potential risks associated with significant organizational changes.
When it comes to digital transformations, success is by no means a foregone conclusion.
On the contrary, most companies are victims of the failure of their digital transformation processes as people may not be ready; processes that are not correctly managed or technology that is not sufficiently advanced.
The essential element is to provide for a guaranteeing protection system that includes phases, discussed with all employees and all those involved, through which everyone will have under control the procedure to be followed and the steps to be taken.
Collaboration, dialogue and discussion between all members of the organization is essential in a digital transformation process as it necessarily requires a change in the culture of employees and in their way of operating.
Preparing people for change is one of the main actions to be carried out as it reduces the risk of failure.
All this with the aim of improving people’s skills and making them suitable for the new environment.
Using both levers reduces the potential performance issues that occur when the change is implemented.
Finally, it is crucial to ensure that the change process occurs as few interruptions as possible and follows a smooth process.
How can it be done?
Look to the future
What kind of change are you looking for? How do you start?
The first actions you will need to take involve understanding the actual extent of the change and how many people are involved.
By observing the types of change it is possible to have a guideline to give a dimension to the initiative that you will have to undertake.
Depending on whether the change is local or large-scale, tactical and strategic changes are distinguished.
If change management is large-scale, it affects the global organization and strategic changes will be needed at the company level.
If a department makes changes to improve customer service, a tactical change can be envisaged that may involve a small number of stakeholders .
In this case, change management concerns a single department and not the whole organization (although it cannot be ruled out that it could have an impact on the entire company system).
The first step involves a meeting of the project team , which must decide, at a macro organizational level, where the change is located. Subsequently, the changes will be reduced in the other areas and all the interconnections will begin to be designed.
In this phase it is normal to have confused ideas, the goal is to clarify these doubts and immediately define the specific objectives of change management.
Here is a trivial but very effective example. We often say phrases like “I want to lose weight” or “get fit”.
The real questions you should ask yourself, though, should be much more specific and focused: How much weight do you want to lose and since when? What does it mean for you to be fit? Do you want to run a marathon or the 100 meters?
This was to make you understand immediately what we mean: it is essential to be specific about personal and organizational goals.
The definition of ambiguous objectives determines only uncertainties in the organization and failure of the initiatives. All the clarifications will serve to further break down the objective into intermediate and measurable objectives and to have an increasingly clear and defined picture of the initiative.
Once the purpose and objectives of the change management have been defined, it is necessary to evaluate the specifics of the change, which include the evaluation of:
Leadership support and change alignment.
Stakeholders and assessment of their level of involvement.
Internal context of the people involved.
Readiness for change.
It is no secret that leadership is vital for organizational success and, in particular, for change management. It is one of the main enablers of change in the organizational structure.
In fact, leadership is the element that makes the difference in the success or failure of projects.
Good leadership is important within the organization as it supports change management, explains and describes the reasons for that change and the benefits it will bring.
Leadership needs to clarify its support to stakeholders as this gives security to all those co -workers who may feel disoriented.
Leadership who do their jobs right makes sure they:
Make the vision of change clear, stimulating and shared.
Communicate rational and compelling reasons for change.
Motivate people to have an attitude of appreciation.
Make resources available and eliminate reticence.
Demonstrate commitment and energy for the new vision.
Modeling new behaviors and new ways of working.
Increase visibility and availability to answer questions and keep stakeholders engaged.
People and the internal context
People typically respond to change differently. While some people will be positive about change right away, others will be reticent and won’t feel the need to apply it.
There are some projects, such as the redesign of the organization, which require a great deal of analysis and sensitivity in relation to the internal context of people.
To manage change, in the late 1960s, the individual change model known as the “Kubler-Ross Change Curve” was developed.
The model can be used to manage subjects at all stages of the change curve .
Not only that, it can also be used to develop broader organizational change capabilities.
The Kubler-Ross change curve can be divided into four categories, which identify the different attitudes of the subjects when they interface with the change.
Denial : Subjects reject the change that is taking place.
Resistance: subjects look for the reasons why the change will not work, opposing it.
Exploration: Employees ask questions and examine how they can implement change.
Commitment: the subjects accept the change and actively contribute to it.
The goal is to bring about the shift of people from a state of denial and resistance to a positive state of exploration and commitment.
How to guide people to change
If there are people who place themselves in a position of refusal, it is essential to clearly define the objective of the change and the reasons behind it.
What people really need is clarity and transparency.
It is therefore essential to be clear, honest and sincere about objectives and motivations; this is the only way to get their support and trust.
In case the attitude is one of resistance, you need to make sure that people feel understood and have your help if they feel the need.
Ask people what they need to implement change and show your willingness to assist and help them.
The success of a change management process is only possible when a proactive mindset and greater collaboration between employees is established .
Design thinking encourages collaboration: cross-functional teams bring together people with different backgrounds (designers, engineers, human resources, finance, marketing, etc.) and allow employees to establish constructive relationships and comparisons.
In this way you will not only be of support to all subjects; but you will build a network of people who will relate and help each other to solve problems , find solutions and new ideas.
As you engage with people exploring ways of change, try to clarify issues and help people answer their questions. Allow people to contribute ideas and suggestions.
If, on the other hand, people are already inclined to change, give them the right reward. Make sure you acknowledge their commitment. This is an opportunity both to make your employees feel fulfilled and to accelerate the process of change.
Also remember that:
People don’t necessarily have to go through the different phases in sequence ;
The path is not necessarily linear: people will bounce from one phase to another until a general position of general equilibrium is reached;
People can go through the phases at different times: for some it will take a few days, for others it may take weeks or months;
The intensity and duration of resistances to change vary; they depend on the extent of the perceived losses as a result of the change.
Analysis of the will to change
The second key factor that enables change in organizational design is the planning of the actions necessary to accompany people through the stages of change.
Readiness to change measures the willingness of the individual or group with respect to the willingness to adopt new behaviors and processes .
This is an important measure as it does not only concern the introduction of a new system or process; but it involves a cultural and behavioral change of the organization.
Activities that analyze this response to change are designed to:
Raise awareness within the organization of the likely impacts of the change process and how the change should be managed.
Identify hidden issues and resistance issues that require early mitigation.
Identify and manage the expectations of various stakeholder groups, including a willingness to adopt changes associated with the project or initiative.
Ensure key stakeholders support the initiative and are empowered to make the change.
Provide support and recognition of the efforts made towards change.
The assessment of readiness for change can be conducted through a survey by combining individual interviews and group interviews .
These surveys must be carried out at all stages of the design; these interventions must be followed by follow-up and optimization phases.
Evaluation of the impact on the company business
After reflecting on which leaders need to be involved and how ready they are to embrace change, it is necessary to understand how it impacts the organization.
With this information, recommendations can be made to reduce the risk of failure.
The goal of the Business Impact Assessment (BIA) is to identify and analyze the following:
Type and degree of change within an organization (or part of an organization) determined by a project.
The expected impact of the change and the expected associated risks .
The expected result of a business impact assessment is a recommendation of activities aimed at mitigating negative impacts and managing associated risks, as well as identifying and closing project gaps .
The results of a business impact assessment will be incorporated into the change strategy and transition plan.
How to conduct a business impact assessment
In -depth discussions with key stakeholders or in small groups can be envisaged to conduct an effective business impact assessment.
Meetings can significantly help you identify project impacts .
To carry out an impact analysis at the macro level, surveys can be carried out at the operating unit or department level. For a detailed analysis of the impacts, you can go down to the specific team and even the single role.
The information is collected and redistributed to the group to verify that all impacts have been considered and assessed.
A useful tool that can help you understand the impacts of the project is the checklist, which is organized into several categories:
External stakeholders and customers
Stakeholders and customers focus on the impact of change on the organization, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders outside the organization.
When evaluating impacts on organizational structures, the focus is on hierarchical relationships and organizational design. When a clear or potential impact is identified for the “three Rs” – remuneration, reorganization or redundancy – it is necessary to involve human resources to manage these problems.
In examining the impact on processes and procedures, the focus is on the effect the change will have on the micro-level activities undertaken by the relevant roles.
People / Roles
When examining the impact on people and roles, the focus is on whether there will be changes at the individual role level.
An operating system is essential for the daily operation of the company.
Where change will impact a system, it is important to ensure that all critical issues are assessed with those involved.
In this case the assessment focuses on the administrative and logistical impacts of the change (e.g. seating plans, stationery requirements, directory updates etc …).
The analysis of these elements allows to identify the most critical areas, which will also be the areas to be monitored throughout the change process.
Now that you’ve assessed leadership, stakeholders, people involved, change readiness, and business impact, it’s time to design your approach to change.
3. Design / Planning
The sequence of organizational changes is simple. It must always derive from the objectives of the change initiative and its design includes several activities:
Project team structure planning.
Creation of the project team for change management.
Align leadership, stakeholder engagement and communications.
Training (including identifying gaps in organizational skills).
A major source of resistance to change is ambiguity. So, it’s really important to be clear about roles and responsibilities and what the structure of the change will be.
Organizational change projects, no matter how small, are complex and time consuming. As a general rule it can be said that the more people there are, the more time it takes to plan for change.
One of the main reasons for failure is the underestimation of the level of effort required to guide the organization through implementation.
Related to this is the mistake of underestimating the time it takes to implement a change up to the operating instructions. The time it takes to effectively implement change can range from months for simple changes to years for organization-wide initiatives.
To get an idea of the timing of adaptation:
For changes affecting the procedures, a period of 1 to 3 months is foreseen.
For changes affecting the processes it takes 3 – 12 months.
For company or business unit changes from 1 to 3 years.
A good design team should include a representative cross section of the organization affected by the change. This is because members of the change project team must have:
Image of processes at every level of the organization.
Ability to influence others and motivate them to change.
Ability to plan the implementation path.
The planning phase is not just planning in the strict sense. It aligns leadership with the vision and goals of the change initiative.
First, one of the organizational goals is to minimize the ambiguity of change. To do this, it is important to put in place a series of structures capable of reducing ambiguity.
These can be governance structures (such as the steering committee or the project management office), which must monitor the risks, problems and quality of the project.
Since change is inherently ambiguous, it is necessary to keep people focused on vision and goals as they go about their daily activities.
It is essential to plan stakeholder engagement and timely communication so that ambiguity is minimized and productivity is maximized.
Planning an effective team responsible for change is a priority.
The change team must have the right skills and experience for their roles, whether it is business analysis or project management, whether they are seen by stakeholders as capable. They must also be fully committed and supportive of the project.
Leadership is key throughout the change process. There is a need to develop a plan for key leadership activities and support and assist executives and entrepreneurs in implementing those plans.
Their activity is fundamental because they will be the main promoters and supporters of change.
Leaders must demonstrate commitment and build support for change; they need to gather advocates to pressure the benefits of change across the organization. Finally, leaders must be promoters of new behaviors to make others follow them and believe in change.
Training is needed when you want people to do something new or different, such as learning new ways of working or using new tools.
To understand if it is necessary or not, you have to ask yourself what the training goal is.
The business impact assessment, in particular, will determine your training plan.
As the new design is developed and implemented, the new soft and hard skills (required for successful results) will be taken into consideration.
To define the skills and competences necessary for the success of the change project you will have to ask yourself the following questions:
What are the objectives and expected results of the change? (For example, to reduce costs, increase sales, improve return on equity)
Define the performance required to meet these results (higher sales margins, number of sales appointments, conversion rates, etc.)
Define the skills and competencies required to meet performance standards . (improvement of sales skills, proposal writing, opportunity management)
Create training and development programs to meet these skills (sales conversation training, presentation skills, and so on).
The operation in this phase starts from the results and proceeds backwards, until reaching the new performance criteria.
In this phase there will be several activities to manage:
Training of managers to lead change.
The purpose of transition planning activities is to ensure continuous and uninterrupted operation of a business unit while minimizing inefficiencies and organizational problems due to the change process.
The importance of proper planning and a clear and gradualaction plan is paramount during the transition phase of a project.
The transition plan is that single document that is monitored, maintained and distributed to provide clarity to stakeholders on the status of the project.
This includes several aspects:
Activities that must be performed before implementation.
Transition of people and process-related changes (e.g. communication, role evaluation, restructuring, relevant training).
Updated policies and procedures.
Implications relating to human resources and industrial relations.
Alignment of other organizational elements to support the transition.
Monitor the transition plan
To be effective, the transition plan must be rigorously monitored, updated regularly and communicated to those with assigned shares.
When implementing change, people may not fully agree. Resistance can block change unless people learn from it. It is important to recognize resistance and to be able to manage it effectively.
The best known cause of resistance is ambiguity. Ambiguity is inevitable in projects, but it is controllable.
The malaise that results from a lack of clarity is known to economists as “Ambiguity Aversion”.
The implication of this sentiment is that people act like they don’t have any information.
This is why the clarity of organizational change programs is so important.
Change leaders must be adept at converting ambiguous goals into concrete and specific plans that proceed step by step . Add clear messages to these plans to ensure the desired behavior change and you are well on your way to success.
Resistance arises from a number of intrinsic reasons in humans, including:
Loss of control: Many people feel resentful when they are forced to change. A sense of control is essential to most people’s self-esteem . Enforced change can remove this sense of control, leading to stress and an attempt to reassert control with overt or covert sabotage.
Fear of the Unknown : When the future state is unknown, it is possible to generate fear and subsequent resistance. This problem is particularly felt in change management as change is so complex that people cannot imagine their future role.
Unexpected change: People react negatively, almost instinctively, when decisions or requests are made without warning or the possibility of preparation. An individual who has not had time to metabolize new processes and methodologies will almost certainly react negatively and resist change.
Habit : Many people are habitual in their nature and resent any violation of this routine. Change, by definition, is likely to disrupt the routine, causing insecurity and resistance.
Self-doubt: In some cases, employees fear that they will not be able to learn skills or perform new tasks.
Your main tool for overcoming resistance is passionate listening .
Allowing people to express their opinion and voice their concerns often helps them resolve their concerns.
The innovation strategy must follow a bottom-up direction.
Situations often arise in which an important gap is created between managers and employees and this leads to confusion and inconvenience. The gap must be closed if you are to be successful in implementing change.
When it comes to managing change, middle managers and supervisors play a key role as they are able to motivate their employees and determine a proactive approach.
5. Implementation in business processes
When implementing change within business processes and activities there are several aspects to consider:
Taking the time to develop a comprehensive plan to incorporate change into your workflow often seems to overshadow previous design and implementation phases.
A better approach is to verify the activities that work from the critical ones, so that if difficulties arise in some areas, they can be corrected and improved.
What to consider when implementing change
Very often, those who lead change focus their attention on how to motivate people to participate in change.
In reality, the element on which it is essential to focus is the empowerment of employees .
True integration is achieved when the defined objectives are not experienced only as aseptic work, but as a self-expression of oneself.
Employees need to feel and care about the goals; only then will the change be effectively integrated into the organization.
Sustaining momentum means ensuring the success of an initiative by providing the support and resources necessary for the life of the project . The objectives at this stage must ensure that:
Required resources are consistently provided during the implementation phase to enforce change.
Change activities are completed in accordance with the transition plan and are visible, immediate, credible, integrated and lasting.
There are some common mistakes in making change that can impact momentum. In particular:
Perfectionist thinking : before communicating the changes, one waits for the perfect moment or the perfect solution, ending up being immobilized;
Lack of concentration and distraction;
Do not learn from experience: do not use the teachings of others to refine the approach to change and do not involve enough stakeholders.
Too often, training is conducted without any follow-up or metrics to determine whether or not it is effective.
Quantitative metrics include increased sales, conversion rate or margins, employee or customer retention rates.
Qualitative metrics could include measuring inter-office communication, employee motivation, brand reputation, and job satisfaction.
As it is easy to deduce, qualitative metrics are difficult to measure; therefore it is essential to consider a series of parameters that are able to validate the effectiveness of the training.
Regardless of the means by which feedback is collected, potential improvements identified (e.g. communications, training, engagement, business readiness) must be incorporated into the transition plan.
Finally, it is worth repeating that change management is a process, not an event. It starts with understanding the goals, then the preparation, testing and measurement, and finally, the large-scale extension.
Last steps – post implementation feedback
Learning from experience is an essential element in avoiding the failure of a change project.
The post implementation review involves the evaluation:
The performance of the project against the objectives of the original business case .
Key success factors for identifying opportunities for process and procedure improvement.
It is an important element that, if well managed, ensures the continuous improvement of the results of the change management team.
As part of a post implementation review, it is critical to consider a few things:
Feedback from the project team on communication and change management activities.
The level of commitment required in a post implementation review will vary based on:
The scope and impact of the project on the business.
The similarity of the project to previous initiatives (e.g. a more detailed review for new types of initiatives).
The final gaps between the project objectives and the final results.
Change management and gamification: an effective tool
Gamification exploits the use of game mechanics to influence the behavior of the subjects. These game mechanics satisfy basic human psychological needs : a sense of competence, autonomy and relationship.
Gamification, thanks to its ability to communicate goals and provide real-time feedback on employee performance, is a powerful tool for business change. It can be used to support better user engagement and generate immediate feedback , providing important indicators of process improvement.
Gamification and change management as a continuous process
In the past, change management was a planned process and consisted of three phases:
Unlock the organization.
Consolidate the new configuration.
Over time, the need to make changes within the organization has become more and more frequent.
This has resulted in the need to find an alternative, process-focused approach where organizational change is conceived as continuous and evolving.
According to this approach, the organization must constantly adapt to an unpredictable and rapidly changing environment.
Change must not only be implemented and consolidated, it must be conceived as a set of small, progressive changes.
Change management is an ever-evolving process , a pre-requisite for a healthy organization capable of detecting and reacting to changes in its environment.
The gamification toolkit for change management
Gamification can drive important transformations for employees, whether it’s a post-merger cultural shift or a realignment of processes and habits. In all these cases , gamification efforts are centered on adapting to an environment that is constantly changing.
The decision to invest in a new platform or system is usually driven by technology. However, the question of how people will react to this change is often not considered.
Although there is a structured process of change , people forget a lot of what they have been taught from the moment the system is implemented.
In this case, gamification can motivate people to carry out new activities continuously in order to guarantee deeper learning.
The human brain is an extremely habitual organ and performing the same action several times allows you to create new routines. At some point the new behavior stops being “new” and becomes the norm.
When change is not well managed, employee performance is directly impacted.
Solutions that adopt gamification have proven to be a more efficient option than traditional systems, thanks to their high rates of engagement and retention of learned content.
Some of the main advantages of a gamification strategy are:
Playful representation of a concrete task to be performed.
Involvement of employees in the learning process.
Immediate feedback on the learned content.
Change management is not a walk in the park. Stimulating an organization to change behavior requires a well-planned and organized process. In this guide we have analyzed the steps step-by-step:
Step 1: Define the change and create a strategy.
Step 2: Assess how people perceive change.
Step 3: Engaging and inspiring design.
Step 4: Implement and give users the tools and skills to successfully implement change.
Step 5: Incorporate and maximize your ROI.
A tool that can make a difference in managing change is gamification: by exploiting the game mechanics, it allows you to make the learning process more engaging and stimulating.
It also has a considerable power on the consolidation of the knowledge acquired over time .
Thinking of providing a training platform that uses gamification in your change management plan is a first step for an effective change process.