“Change Digital” is the new international term used to refer to digital technology in change management, as well as in coaching people and organizations who adopt this technology.
We recently travelled across the Atlantic to attend the 3rd International Meetings of Change Management (RICC), held by the ESSEC (École supérieure en sciences économiques et commerciales) Chair of Change Management , in partnership with HEC Montréal, IRG Université Paris-Est, Louvain School of Management, and Caisse des Dépôts (France).
The RICC meetings specifically addressed Change Digital issues, practices, and approaches. Researchers’ findings presented on the first day of the event were published in the journal Question de management. We encourage you to read the article by Johnson, Moutot, and Autissier, which serves as a comprehensive introduction to the topic.
The second day was devoted to actual case studies. Here is an overview of our observations and learnings.
Digital projects today mostly focus on clients and recruitment.
Up until now, few digital technologies have been deployed within organizations and Québec organizations are no further ahead than elsewhere. Digital technologies are more prevalent in the banking and insurance sectors where applications are developed to improve customer experience (e.g. mobile payment systems). But there is a common thread: Most applications are developed to build customer loyalty or attract much sought-after workers, whereas few of them are developed or used internally to optimize operations.
Applications sometimes change market rules, leading organizations to review their business models
A hotel group discussed Trip Advisor, the world’s largest travel site. In record time and with a handful of employees, this company captured between 20 to 30% of the hospitality market without owning a single hotel or having to bear any of the risk associated with real estate investments. Now that’s a notable threatening example faced by organizations that are remiss in reviewing its business model.
Users already familiar with new technologies
Individuals are more and more conversant with new technologies. They use them daily in their personal lives and are therefore receptive to the increased use of such technologies by companies. Passing up this opportunity means underusing their potential and often depriving themselves of the influence they may exert on how organizations are perceived across their personal network. Since we live in a top-down era, it is important to capitalize on the benefits derived from community interactions.
Projects that depend on volunteers
Allowing employees to lead digital projects of their own initiative can be highly beneficial for organizations. This spontaneous development may help ensure their future. Intelligent, skilled, and attracted to digital technology, employees are often passionate about finding innovative solutions or implementing best practices. Often, it doesn’t take much to put means at their disposal… and let time run its course. A quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry perfectly illustrates this point: “As for the future, your task is not to foresee it, but to enable it.”
A thin line between personal and professional lives
There aren’t really any boundaries between work tools and social tools anymore (e.g. LinkedIn). Though they are not managed internally and may cause information overload, these tools facilitate employee mobility and help improve work quality. In that regard, internal policies on restricting or banning access to these tools may be counterproductive. Individuals are now constantly on the lookout for new opportunities and manage themselves as brands without questioning their loyalty to their employer. This represents a huge new challenge for human resources.
Step-by-step approaches to change management are no longer aligned with digital tools
Our change management approaches were developed during the pre-digital era. With today’s tools, we find ourselves in situations where targets are not always adequately defined. Our approaches must be reviewed so that we may be more flexible and move forward gradually through continuous experimentation as in design thinking.
Workshop Factory, a participatory approach
Workshop Factory shared an inspiring example of a participatory approach to managing operations and leading transformation projects. This Canadian concept provides digital event-hosting technology to help organizations quickly capitalize on team synergies, whether people are on- or off-site. Inspired by the book titled ”Passez en mode workshop” cowritten by Autissier and Moutot, Workshop Factory offers about twenty different workshops with new ones to be added soon. Here is an example of a workshop: Participants use post-its to contribute to a discussion; afterwards, all ideas are gathered to produce a printable report. These interactions are highly positive, in addition to saving time. The following video further describes this concept.
In conclusion, why it is so important…
The use of digital technologies is more and more widespread. Some of these have a major impact on how organizations are managed. They also present an enormous challenge for change management. Here’s one convincing anecdote: Our generation is the last one who remembers what it was like “before” the digital era. This aptly demonstrates just how quick, far-reaching, and inescapable change actually is. It’s up to use to get used to it…