Nowadays, change really matters because there is nothing more constant than change. Technology is the best example. Considering that today’s advanced technologies—such as artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT), big data, and quantum computing—take less than 10 years to mature (versus the mainframe which took 30 years to mature).
This unprecedented pace of innovation calls for iterative change management for the workforce. Last month, I delivered a virtual keynote on the “Principles of Effective Leadership” at the Technology Business Management conference sponsored by Apptio, one of Accenture’s ecosystem partners. I focused my talk on how many companies in the quest for digitalization rapidly deploy many tools—but then fail to capture full value because the company underestimated the importance of change management.
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Some common challenges in technology transformations
In our transformation research, we discovered that two-thirds of transformation programs fail because of a lack of management support and effective change management programs. We also know from research and our own experience that 20% of projects are actually dependent on IT implementation—yet 80% of success is driven by change management program.
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of transformation projects are dependent on IT implementation
of success of transformation projects is driven by change management program
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The key principles of effective change management
What are the best practices companies should apply while leading their technology-enabled transformational initiatives? We’ve identified ten levers of change management that can be applied across a framework we call the “Five A’s”: align, act, adjust, adopt, and adapt.
1. Always start with the change story: Experience and research show that a transformation program empowered by a change story has a much higher chance for success than those without a story. Key messages of the change story need to be shared by the leadership and communicated top-down.
2. Do a stakeholder analysis: It is important to define and understand who in the organization will be impacted by the change. Analyze early on the project’s stakeholder groups, their roles, how they will be engaged, and how highly they are impacted by the change.
Act and adjust
3. Assess change impact on roles: Make sure that the people involved in the program really understand the change that will happen and what impact it will have on their day-to-day job. This is best achieved through an effective communication program and role-specific activities.
4. Build a communication plan: You will want to leverage all the communication channels in your company. This could be a combination of newsletters, town halls, and individual sessions—all of which work together to ensure communication is happening at the moment when it matters.
5. Establish metrics and a mechanism to measure success: How would you know that your change management program is effective and having an impact? Before you start, you need to define metrics and mechanisms to measure the effectiveness of interventions. This could be periodically running a survey, measuring technology adoption, etc.
6. Ensure a network of cross-functional stakeholders: This network is especially important if your organization has siloes; you will need stakeholders who understand, embrace, and drive the change across the organizational silos.
7. Hands-on learning: Nowadays people want to learn when it is relevant, at their own pace, at their most convenient timing, and have their questions answered when they need it. Facilitate learning processes using digital learning methods and tools, e.g., self-service, video-based sessions, and learning portals; and make it fun through team competitions and gamification.
8. Role-based training: Training sessions need to be role specific. Invest in various training formats that fit different user groups, e.g., web-based, virtual, and instructor-led materials.
9. Build a plan for sustainment: How do you make sure the change is sustainable? The new ways of working needs to be cemented in new organizational structures, new roles, changed processes, and aligned motivation schemes to reinforce behavioral changes and drive technology adoption.
10. Define a dashboard: Don’t expect what you don’t inspect. Track and communicate your progress using a visual dashboard with key indicators of change impact and overall benefits of the transformation.
How these effective change principles apply to Technology Business Management
Both technical and business capabilities are important to adopt Technology Business Management. (See figure below.)
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But in my experience, most efforts are spent on the first three phases making sure the tool is implemented, and reports are produced. This is understandable as many companies face challenges with data quality, data availability, and how to allocate costs to the right categories. You then proceed with the implementation of solutions offered by leading providers such as Apptio and getting insights.
Much less attention is paid to the business capabilities side, which involves people, processes, and value capture. Yet, the last three phases are critical to ensure success.
As I mentioned above, much of the success of transformation projects—and Technology Business Management—is dependent on change management. It’s dependent on people adopting the new ways of working, the new processes that are changed, and the captured and measured value. While getting excited about new possibilities the technology can bring, don’t forget about the people impact, drive your transformation as end user-centric, and your technology investments will pay off.
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