Making a Success of Change Management


From BIM Journal. Click Here to Read Issue 3

From BIM Journal Issue 03 – here

As part of the Institution of Civil Engineers Digital Transformation initiative, it is now time to consider two guest items from the ICE, the first one presented below looks at Change Management courtesy of Romy Hughes from Brightman.  

Making a Success of Change Management

Every forward-looking organisation is looking to digitise in one form or another. Digital transformation or “digitisation” is a tremendous undertaking since it touches on all aspects of the business, from every customer interaction, to sales and fulfilment, to operations. Yet despite its all-encompassing nature and implications for the business as a whole, digital transformation delivery is often left under the domain of the IT department. This is a mistake. Digital transformation is not an IT project; it is an operational change that goes to the very heart of the business.

When coercion leads to mutiny

The biggest challenge with any major transformation project – whether digital or not – is the acceptance of the change by those who will be affected by it. Change that is imposed from the top without inviting feedback from those below is destined to failure. Coercion might work for a while, but it will soon lead to resentment and eventually mutiny, and the project will fail.

Cultural and people change activities need to take place in parallel with the technical change activities (e.g. looking at potential systems and services that could benefit from digitisation, the solutions and the delivery planning). This must not be an afterthought. Any transformation plan must incorporate four elements if it is to be successful; Process, Organisation, Technology and Information. Notice that technology is only one of four components. Only when all four elements are considered can an organisation achieve the expected benefits of digital transformation.

Strategy and organisational alignment

CEOs “telling” an organisation is not sufficient to bring about the necessary cultural and people change required for digital transformation. People at the coal-face need to have meaningful engagements with their day-to-day leadership. They need to feel that their views are heard and they are not powerless in the face of the change. Their feedback should be addressed at Team Lead level and outstanding points passed back to senior level for assessment and action. As planning is underway, this engagement enables leaders to bring the organisation along with the delivery of technology and provides a greater likelihood of the organisation deriving the expected benefits.

Feedback and championing success

Feedback enables targeted activities to be put in place and helps inform senior leaders where the organisation is along their change journey. The role of the Team Leader in collating feedback from the coal-face is paramount to assess progress and identify required intervention.

Interest groups and communities of practices should be formed during the transformation to increase participation, and empower individuals to help shape the change. Publicly congratulating and publicising these initiatives and their importance promotes positive behaviours within the organisation.

Employee engagement at all levels

Senior management needs to provide active sponsorship and drive the change. This will include communicating with the organisation about the purpose of the transformation strategy, the compelling need for change and the benefits. Senior leaders need to work closely with Team Leaders to help them craft directed messages to their people and gather feedback about progress, issues and concerns in their areas.

Team Leaders have a crucial role to translate the high-level strategy to help their people understand what it means to them. They must be able to help them understand what the future operating state will look like for them and the benefits of operating in it. Team Leads must collate valuable feedback from the coal-face.

Operational staff must be engaged in the change at every step. Staff will span the spectrum from advocates that desire the change, and should be empowered to help shape it, to those most resistant, who (for various reasons) do not share in the desire for change. All staff need to be engaged to air their views or concerns, so they can be supportively managed and given what they need to bring them along with the change.

It’s not just about the technology!

In conclusion, we strongly advocate the benefits that digital transformation provides to individuals, teams, organisations, and their customers and partners. However, we understand first-hand that the journey is not an easy one. Often, the implementation of the technology itself is the easiest part when compared to the true challenge of an organisation accepting and using the technology in a way that delivers the expected benefits and provides a better service to its customers (and we’re not saying the technology is easy either).

The only way to ensure acceptance of the change is to align the organisational culture with it, and engage individuals to bring them along with the delivery of the technological solution. Digital transformation is not an IT project but an organisational transformation, and to not treat it as such can be fraught with peril. Don’t make that mistake.

This article was created as part of the Institution of Civil Engineers’ Digital Transformation campaign. Learn more at the Shaping a Digital World conference (formerly ICE BIM) on the 13th of October.

From BIM Journal Issue 03 – here

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