Change Management is Not Just a Buzz Word

by | Sep 16, 2021 | Future of Work

Only one-third of change initiatives succeed. (1)  That’s a staggering statistic and extremely intimidating in the midst of an accelerated digital transformation movement.  Yet, it should be no surprise as many organizations have a loose grasp on change management best practices and often neglect to seek guidance. This blog intends is to bring no less than a sense of urgency to digital pioneers, sponsors, and practitioners alike.  Simply put, change management is not just a buzzword; it is a core component of success.

Effective change management

Effective change management, most especially effective digital transformation change management (DTCM)–is a gift that keeps on giving.  We should not underestimate its importance or dismiss its impact. To put it plainly, digital transformations, while bringing positive and measurable organizational improvements, are different in terms of impact, pace, and scope. (2) Digital change can “upend” the current state, often with a broad reach across the enterprise.  Perhaps most notably, the speed of change is much faster, both from an implementation standpoint as well as information output.  The last outcome a hyperautomation initiative needs is a series of missteps on the yellow brick road to operational digital efficiency and the holy grail of competitive advantage.

Best Practices

Slight oversights can be managed, but they should not overshadow the positive impact of hyperautomation initiatives–mundane tasks replaced by RPA, manual process mapping replaced by digital process mining, over-extended manpower developed into an engaged and highly-leveraged workforce. We want to harness DTCM best practices for the success of current projects, but more importantly, to catalyze accelerating IA initiatives.

Atmos Energy, for example, established a Business Process and Change Management (BPCM) program that initially delivered on a strategic project but later shifted to an enterprise-wide role as the value was evident. (3) The BPCM team develops an annual strategic plan with core themes and strategies, develops a roadmap of priorities and goals, and communicates a change portfolio and weekly change bulletin internally to optimize change fatigue across the organization.  The best practice here is simple, investing in change management, both financially and organizationally, is paramount.

Revlon, on the other hand, failed in its digital implementation of SAP in 2018. The minute they went live, all visibility to their supply chain was lost at a North Carolina plant. Sales were lost, additional costs were incurred with the need to expedite shipments, and the Revlon stock dropped 6.9% in one day after the issue was announced in a financial filing. 

Launching an internal change management team might not be in the cards, but a robust DTCM plan is a ‘must.’ Demonstrating a poor return on a digital investment or prolonged ROI could mean more than a short-term dollar impact.  Failure could mean less support on future initiatives from the executive level, regardless of the potential impact. In turn, that reality can translate into opportunities lost in the marketplace through lost sales, lost customer value, and lost customer service.

Achieving Successful Change Management

In an effort to provide actionable best practices, we will avoid disseminating a grand “error-proof 152-point checklist to ensure your change management success”.  Successful change management can be relatively simple — achieve unwavering alignment through empowering change, establish a digital change management plan, and communicate, communicate, communicate. 


(1) Gartner, Changing Change Management

(2) Gartner, Going and Staying Digital

(3) APQC, Leading Process and Change Management at Atmos Energy

(4) Revlon, SEC Filings

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