As companies adapt to a rapidly changing business environment, with shifting players, products, services, and technology, many of them struggle to keep up. Advancement, or even maintenance, can be a challenge in an environment that requires flexibility, adaptability, and real-time decision-making.
Technological advancements and market globalization have made change management a vital part of the modern business administration. However, a study in the Harvard Business Review¹ found that 60-70% of all organizational change initiatives fail – a statistic that has hardly shifted in the last 40 years.
Change management is more critical than ever. However, management strategies are often archaic – continuing to rely on the issuance of top-down mandates of change, rather than fostering a climate that embraces and welcomes the change.
Modern leaders must understand that effective leadership is a movement, not a mandate.
Change management, in the modern business world, must be about cultivating a shared vision and incorporating buy-in from employees at every level. All employees, from front-line managers to C-suite executives must not only understand the strategic vision of the enterprise, but they must believe in it and be willing to adapt their thinking, strategies, decision-making, and day-to-day activities to benefit that vision.
Employing smart technology, using principles of collaborative learning tools, allows a business to harness the collective intelligence of its employees. Creating an environment of consistent, open communication can help a company to tear down functional and departmental silos. Directed conversations and collaborative problem-solving among employees help to move an organization past a traditional, top-down hierarchy to a flexible, adaptive ecosystem of empowered employees sharing information and ideas.
The top three factors of successful change management according to the APQC 2016 Change Survey² are:
- Enabling leadership to lead – Training leaders at all levels of the organization to prepare for change, provide direction, and lead by example.
- Tracking the adoption of new behaviors – Best practices include using macro measures to assess change efforts and bottom-up measures to pinpoint the causes of any issues, so that they may be addressed.
- Keeping momentum throughout the journey – Perhaps most importantly, leaders in effective change management combine communication and comprehensive engagement plans to gain employee buy-in and overcome barriers to change.
A town-hall meeting to disseminate a new strategy is an example of a change management mandate. A leader stands in front of a group of employees and gives a directive. Beyond a question and answer period, ongoing discussion is not entertained, let alone encouraged.
A change management movement, however, looks very different. Technology can be employed to facilitate communications – questions, thoughts, and improvements to the stated strategy, as well as ideas on how existing processes at all levels can be adjusted to meet strategic goals. A mandate is a group of people listening to a directive; a movement is a group of committed, involved volunteers dedicated to using their energy to achieve a specified goal.
For more information about change management movements, please see CorpU CEO Alan Todd’s article in CEO magazine here.