How can good change management improve the uptake of technology?

Linda Le, market analyst, thedocyard

How can good change management improve the uptake of technology?

COVID-19 has accelerated digital transformation across every industry, every workplace and every organisation. In response, technology has been adopted at unprecedented rates. In theory, it’s a straightforward story: an organisation would purchase technology, all would embrace and hail it as the end of their workflow woes, and no glitches or data breaches would ever occur. Happily ever after, right?

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. The reality is that change is hard. In every organisation, there are going to be innovators, laggards and people who sit between them. While some people will throw themselves head-first into change, others will drag their feet and resist.

The best changes, however, are well-managed, and recognise that, in the words of William Bridges: “change comes more from managing the journey than from announcing the destination.”

We explore lessons from good change management and how they can be used to facilitate better technology adoption in organisations.

Leading change with a powerful guiding coalition from the top-down

Just as there is no “I” in team, there is also no “I” in change: it cannot just be up to one person. Many must be involved to embed change into culture. You need 75% of senior leadership to buy in for change to successfully occur across an organisation, and tech-related change is no different.

There needs to be a committed team of representatives from various business areas and operational areas buying into the change. The exact composition and size of this team will very much depend on the specific organisation and its needs but one thing remains true for every firm: senior management must be well-represented and they must genuinely believe in the value of this change. The role of this coalition is to guide this change, coordinate it and communicate it to the rest of the organisation.

Communicating change and its importance

Successful uptake of technology can depend on the extent to which it is communicated to the broader team beforehand. Successful change management requires a clear implementation strategy that starts and ends with clear communication outlining the precise changes, how it will be executed and the rationale behind it. Part of this will also involve motivating employees by clarifying the individual’s role in all of the change.

To achieve this, try an “if-then” planning style which can provide clarity and certainty amidst great change.

This is how it works: “If X happens, then I will do Y.”

In this case, X can be an action, a time, a place or an event. Y refers to the specific action or outcome that results from X.

This planning style can help to distil broader goals like “use technology” into something more achievable like: IF we implement and use the new database by December (action), THEN I will be able to collect information more meaningfully and efficiently (outcome).

Enlist advocates to drive change

In every organisation, there are different types of people: from laggards who will actively resist change and bystanders who do nothing, to helpers and innovators who work to drive this change. It is important to know the composition of your organisation and tailor your change around these people because after all, they are the ones who must ultimately adopt it for it to be successful!

The success of the uptake of technology can only occur when people within the organisation are encouraged to rally around and engage with it. They too must buy-in to the change and understand both the urgency and the value of the change. Without this, there is simply no change. It is therefore important to recruit an army of advocates to supplement the work of your guiding coalition and help effect this change.

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