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2021 of Change Management – What we did differently?

, April 5, 2022, 0 Comments

change-management-marketexpress-inWe are living in interesting times! 2020 taught us lessons and 2021 was the year when we brought changes to our ways of working and driving change projects. I am glad to be playing on front foot during the Business as (UN)usual times as this taught me one key thing – Change management is changing, so is the way we drive it.

As Change management professionals, to stay ahead of the curve and win small battles to achieve our goals we did majorly two things:

  1. We observed and identified the changing behaviors of organization and people towards change management
  2. We proactively tweaked, introduced and adopted to the change demand

To narrate the change journey, I am summarizing the change experience in 2021.

Managing Change remotely

It is now cliché to start talking about remote working however, it is imperative to state it here as change management is hard enough to handle when everyone is in the same room. It is harder when the whole target audience is spread across the globe and I guess the hardest when you don’t know the location where people are operating from. These were the times when managing remote teams became the major criterion to succeed over competitors. There was a sea change in engagement models and nitty-gritties of engaging a rife workforce. Coffee connect sessions were not enough, understanding what connects with people at the times when projects demand closure within strict deadlines and people were losing loved ones was a great bet.

Amplified Change Management maturity across industries

Change Management maturity refers to the level of professional change management requirement understanding within organizations. Many change professionals would recognize this as we do not always get to start change management on Day 0 of the project or the day when delivery starts the project formally. The rule book and change curriculum goes for a toss when change management is introduced when it has already failed at a certain level. Interestingly, this level of sophistication of the change management program is seen to go up leaps and bounds in 2021. Organizations are proactive to introduce change management at early stages as compared to what used to happen earlier. Change professionals across industries have harnessed this opportunity. Right in the Request for Proposal (RFP) stage a Return on Change (ROC) is derived and shown to the clients to derive key success criteria for the project including the aspects of change management.

Paradigm shift in organization culture

The org culture archetype has seen a phenomenal change. Its no more only about aligning culture, strategy, and structure, ensuring stakeholder participation or integrating the DNA of different cultures in a merger and acquisition. Now it is more about managing the emotional response. Elevating the digital competence of no matter how remotely one is associated with all the digital stuff is imperative. “You may not be interested in digital, but digital is interested in you!” Moving people from facilitator driven classroom sessions to a digitally driven learning culture, making people less redundant to change, making people accept the fact that there are million different ways of working than what they are doing today, are some key aspects to manage in the org-culture during these times.

Agile Change Management

Even before the pandemic, agile way of working started gaining pace. However, the pandemic showed us the importance of an agile way of working. While many change management professionals contest the idea of a waterfall vs agile methodology; keeping in mind the change that project management has brought in using the agile way of delivering projects, change management plans and activities should be perfectly married to that of project management. Change management should perform the same iterative structure with the same set of activities performed at every stage. This certainly demands higher bandwidth but it also provides end-to-ed change engagement in every sprint. Building an enterprise change management capability within your organization is the best way to support transitions and sustain agile methodology in the long run.

Workplace digitalization

Our Sales teams would vouch for the fact that this pandemic has turned tables – something that was a push marketing has become a pull marketing – yes, organizations are approaching IT companies to elevate their digital expertise and bring in digitization in every vertical and horizontals of the organization. This gives change management a new offering in their service bouquet – Digital culture adoption. A digital workplace connects the organization’s products, services, and people. Organizations are heavily investing in Digital Adoption Platforms (DAPs) for leveraging tech-driven innovations, digital learning and adopting a digital – first culture. Change management professionals are adopting these DAPs to deliver better results be it in training, communication, or engagement.

Data driven change management

“Data, data everywhere, not a bit to use” yes, I made this up inspired by Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem. I questioned my teams in the sea of big data analytics. What are we doing with the data to drive change management projects? Unfortunately, we used to drive change based on methodologies, frameworks, and models. Now that we are working with data driven organizations, it is a hint to utilize that data also to catalyze the change implementation and adoption. Data driven change will transform the change success.

2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every day. This can be used to assess employee behaviors and mindsets, to baseline and define change roadmap, measure progress, and build support, and most importantly build resilience instead of just reducing resistance to change. Data makes the change efforts visible in sweet lil’ charts and numbers that gives the leadership an insight to measure the change efforts and assess the Return on Change (RoC).

Are we there yet? 2021 forced us all to reconsider our assumptions, ways of working, and introduced us to a different world – a world of opportunities and uncertainties. We found new ways to cope with the challenges thrown at us and sail through the ongoing pandemic. We faced different kinds of separations and adoptions – in the way we do our jobs, remote/hybrid working, digitalization etc.

No, we are not there yet, but we have made substantial progress. We will continue to refine and redefine the history of implementing successful transitions. Crypto will run new financial goals, buy now, pay later – will challenge the credit card industry, four-day work weeks will become a competitive advantage, manufacturing will head home and get smarter, diverse hiring will become multi-dimensional, Commutes will become easier (or disappear), entrepreneurship will be the flagbearer to modern change, Schools/colleges will operate like never before, earth will march towards curbing emissions and probably we will be more comfortable and open to discuss mental health. Yes, 2022 will have its own set of challenges and we change management professionals are prepared to show the world how we can bring smooth transition and early adoption amidst the unseen.