Adapting OCM for an Increasingly Digital World: The Challenge

Steve MacGill and Alan Walker

· Transformation,Change Management

Off the back of an earlier blog ( Alan Walker and I got talking. There is an emerging notion that Organizational Change Management (OCM) must dramatically change if it is to keep up with the pace and breadth of changes being driven by Digital transformation.

But we’re not sure we completely agree with that. Hence another blog!

Let’s start with where we do agree with those arguing for dramatic change. We do agree that the management of change needs to evolve across several dimensions:

  • From project based to strategy based
  • From sporadic to an ongoing process
  • From being driven by consultants to being driven by leadership and management
  • From being reactive to being proactive
  • From individual projects to sequencing and connecting the dots across many changes going on at once
  • From communicating the fix to communicating the why

But the primary activities of OCM can’t change dramatically. Why? Because they have been developed to align with the process humans go through in adapting to change - a process that isn’t going to change anytime soon.

The Digital environment is one of constant and rapid change and requires constant readiness to stay out front. No disagreement here. However, it too needs to have direction. It needs clear and realistic guidelines that determine priorities. Priorities that can be communicated. In the absence of this direction, capital and human capital will both be squandered.

So, what is the solution? How do we make sure that OCM adequately supports the process humans go through in adapting to change - while at the same time accelerating their adoption of changes brought about by Digital transformation?

In our view, the answer isn’t shortcutting the human change process to fit the Digital environment. But it also isn’t slowing down Digital opportunities and capabilities to accommodate the humans. The answer lies somewhere in between.

For some practical ideas to ensure that OCM remains relevant, accelerates the process humans go through in adopting change, and meets the rapidly growing demands of the Digital environment – please see [Part 2] and [Part 3].

Original published on June 26, 2018.