Managing change: from program to platform

01 April 2019

Written by Valerija Olsevska

While big corporations can afford to set up a change management center of excellence, for SMEs it is a tension to devote enough attention to all factors within a project, not to mention when several projects are going on. The conventional approach involves some external consultancy, and while there is nothing wrong with that, it might become extremely expensive and frustrating with the current exponential rate of changes. For example, we can expect that the number of apps at the workplace will only continue to increase and it’s unsustainable to ask external help every time we see old ways of working popping up.

A modern enterprise faces the challenge of developing internal change capability rather than managing a one-time change process. An organization should be both capable of and comfortable with adapting to disruptions in the digital era. A mobilization platform can be a solution to boost the change capability.

Change capability

The change capability means that an organization, first, can quickly build a holistic perspective out of functional silos; secondly, it can quickly mobilize its people and create enthusiasm to make a change happen. Having this perspective implies that an enterprise’s management can define the content of a change and limit biases – estimate impacts of a change for the whole organization and answer a question what a change in one area would mean for a separate person on a shop-floor. To oversee these interrelations is not an easy task, but quite a lot of great tools and methodologies are available to build the overview of the company’s processes and flows, like business process modeling, value stream mapping, business canvas, etc.

In contrast, to manage the context of a change –organizational structure, culture and people – is a project on its own (in terms of necessary resources and complexity). A lot has been written on this topic, but the problem of most traditional change management theories is that they miss agility. Agility became a buzzword, but it conveys Change on top of meeting room tablethe competence a modern enterprise should have in its DNA to be flexible and self-organizing. For a change management it means that a change event is initiated in a real time rather than after a careful outline of the change program, followed by resource recruiting and lengthy workshops which still miss to involve the whole organization. To tackle the behavioral component and bring agility to a process an organization can develop a toolkit to quickly inform, inspire and engage its employees. As this toolkit we see a mobilization platform for change initiation.

Mobilization platform

We use platforms in daily life, whether it is social media, booking.com, Amazon or MS Teams. So, the language of the platform is quite familiar to us. In a business world, a platform is a structure or framework to build a certain capability. Last years, open innovation platforms (take an example of a co-creation platform of LEGO “IDEAS” or a crowdsourcing platform “InnoCentive”) showed the power of collaborative efforts. However, companies rarely think about internal (digital) platforms as a workforce mobilization and engagement tool, although it can be a quite simple, relatively cheap and powerful tool to facilitate change capability. The strength of a platform is its ability to integrate the structure and processes of the initiative itself (content) with the human factor (context). Employees are invited to engage in a company-wide conversation, raise their concerns, pinpoint problems or opportunities. That can be very critical in the early stage of a project to estimate the depth and width of a change project – the management can gain visibility of impacted functions, spot potential resistance, validate initiatives and create one integrated view of a change. For employees it brings empowerment, whether they have reservations or fears or even new solutions, they are included in a dialog.

By careful management of a platform and discussions an organization can create enthusiasm and momentum for a change, and most importantly facilitate development of the organizational flexibility.

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