6 Key Steps for Successful Change in the Digital Economy

Managing any change can be tricky. Some see this as a challenge and will rise to it. Others may see this as the next zombie apocalypse. In the digital economy we live in, change is everywhere and is inevitable.

Businesses and individuals have little choice but to keep up in with the increased use of technology change cycle. Consumers are demanding more; more access, more speed, and better personalisation.

Before I jump into the 6 key steps, it would be useful to define change management. This is basically the process and techniques needed to transition the business (functions and individuals) to redirect resources, processes and/or budgets in a constant attempt to reach for nirvana!

So what are the main steps in change management? Good question! Every single change program will be different and tailored. There is no out of the box solution. However, I suggest the following steps are an excellent start.

Step 1: Acknowledge the need for change.

What are the latest platforms that the company should adopt? Are your processes and technologies slow and outdated? Is your business and your people digitally ready? Is there a digital skills gap? There are many questions to ask; if you are asking them then the likelihood is that it is time for a change.

Step 2: Plan, plan & plan!

A lot of the leg work can be done upfront and with careful and detailed planning, many risks, barriers and potential pitfalls can be identified and avoided. Planning will help identify the tools, tasks and techniques required for the proposed change and will ensure that it is managed by the right people at the right time. Change does not happen in isolation and it will impact the whole business; planning will ensure that you still deliver BAU commitments.

Step 3: Identify key players.

Identify the main stakeholders and understand their needs and focal points. Are they fully on-board? Do they need more information? Next, find out everyone who will be affected by the change and start to engage with them. It is important to find the influencers and those likely to dig their heels in and fight to the bitter end.

People react differently to change and often encounter feelings of loss.  Addressing and dealing with fears very early on can help to mitigate this.

Step 4: Communication

Put people first! For those unaware of the digital innovations or who are simply dazed at the speed of the digital economy, put them first - they are more likely to be frightened or obstinate (some people may have only just grasped Facebook). Manage expectations realistically and be transparent in communications, it’s ok to acknowledge issues, in fact it is a good thing! People appreciate honesty, candour and are more likely to accept the change if they know the facts and outcomes.

Make sure in your planning phase you have a good communication plan to help minimise resistance and communicate the benefits. Focus on how it will help the people on the ground and how will it improve their daily lives. Communication is as much for education as it is for information.

Step 5: Implement with commitment and drive (but don’t let go of the wheel just yet)!

Here we go! The change is now in full swing and there is little stopping it! That new shiny DMP or CMS is being implemented. People are being trained. Sewing circles are nattering. This is normal! Be 100% committed and focused on the change and don’t let up.

Expect people to express their views. This is natural and human. Provide the safe space and time to ask the ‘silly’ questions, support their decision making and help them through the change and the loss curve.

Continuously monitor progress. You may find that even the best-laid plans need updating as you go. Even the largest ships ploughing through the water may need a few light steers to avoid crashing waves

Step 6: Embed the change

Change doesn’t finish when you have “changed”. There will be a period where you will need to ensure that the change sticks (there will still be resistance!). There is a great quote from an entrepreneur and motivational speaker I follow on Twitter, Anthony Robbins, who says “for change to be of any true value, they’ve got to be lasting and consistent”. You need to make sure that change is embedded.  Keep encouraging and praise use.

Change in the digital space is inevitable; these steps will help you manage that change and bring your organisation on the journey to success.

For more information on how iProspect can guide your business through change, please contact Head of Consult, Sophie Wooller.