3 actions to take in 2022 to build the organizational muscle for change

  • Posted on January 25, 2022
  • Estimated reading time 5 minutes

Unprecedented. Unparalleled. Extraordinary. These are words we’ve heard repeatedly for the past couple of years in relation to the pandemic’s impact to our personal lives, how business operates, and how people adapt to conducting their work.

However, through all this disruption, the fundamental need to get work done remains unchanged. Regardless of what is happening around us, people – real human beings – must still collaborate, communicate, and accomplish tasks to support the organizational mission. But how this work gets done continues to rapidly evolve. What has now become normal is the need to be good at adapting to continual change. If we’ve learned anything recently, it’s that our ability to adapt, learn, and be flexible with our personal and work world changing around us is essential.

To effectively use digital to establish the organizational muscle to help your teams pivot and remain resilient through continual change, we recommend you focus on three actions in 2022:

  1. Rethink transformation agility

    In our experience working with organizations around the world, a small percentage of the capabilities of digital platforms are typically utilized – which means many companies are missing out on opportunity to advance innovation, collaboration, and get closer to customers. This is typically due to two factors – people and governance. Both need to become more agile in a world of continual change. Organizations can simply no longer wait to get results from digital in five years – three years – or even one year. Business value must be delivered in weeks, so the long transformation programs of the past are redundant.

    In the early days of the pandemic, organizations were forced to move fast to adopt new digital capabilities. This proved that our people could indeed adapt quickly to keep business functioning. However, as the pace of change continues to be unrelenting, it’s only natural for humans to be fatigued, more so in the business world than perhaps any time in recent history. This can’t be underestimated in ongoing digital technology deployments. Considering its pedigree using agile innovation methods, technology functions should play a leading role in enabling a rapid learning mindset that makes continual change less daunting and disruptive. Ask how you can make changes to the way someone works as simple as the way they adapt to an app update on their phone or favorite website. This often requires a larger investment and effort behind the scenes in user experience, communications, and training. However, it can help make significant strides in building a technology-business partnership and encourage users to feel like the organization is building solutions with them in mind.

    Technology functions are also ideally positioned to facilitate an agile governance approach that ensures digital initiatives remain coordinated and aligned with business objectives, quick (and valuable) wins are identified, and innovations that maximize ROI can be scaled quickly to address changing employee, customer and partner needs.

  2. Rethink people first

    If you’re not talking about the importance of human behavior as part of your organizational change planning, you’re stuck in a technology conversation. We see many leaders try to manage change through spreadsheets, process models, and emails, but human-centered design is the catalyst of successful and sustained change in an organization.

    Clear objectives must be the starting point. Ask yourself if enablement is the priority (as it was in the early days of the pandemic), or is true behavioral, cultural, and productivity change the objective? Incremental change is not a bad thing; sometimes it’s the pragmatic action to take. However, if you are immediately focused on enablement, ensure you have a plan to circle back and address the behavioral, cultural and productivity factors that will ultimately help your organization maximize ROI and resilience from digital technologies. Regardless of how you prioritize, don’t underestimate the importance of leadership engagement. You may not need front line managers to be cheerleading for planned changes, but you at least need to get them sufficiently aligned to not be a roadblock. If you can’t somewhat thaw the “frozen middle” that typically resists new ways of working, your organizational change plan will stall.

  3. Rethink leadership

    Continual change also requires continual behavior change. This starts at the top. More than ever, coaching and mentoring are essential attributes of leadership, cascading mindset and behavioral shifts to mid-level managers and champions to support within each layer of the organization. Make certain you and other leaders learn to identify potential friction points, be an active voice, and proactively engage teams to align or adapt on the way forward. It will not only distinguish top leaders – and organizations – but also maintain a pulse on your people as workplaces continue to become more distributed. Workplace analytics can be a useful tool for this, particularly in a hybrid workforce.

    Our final tip to help your organization build the muscle to repeatedly renew and grow? Remember that change ultimately starts and ends with people. Focus less on the technology and instead look to use digital to maximize the capabilities and emotions that uniquely make us human, such as creativity and innovation. The past couple of years have proven that inspiring each other as humans is one of the best ways to feel connected in the workplace.

    Avanade’s organizational change experts specialize in helping leaders continually inspire and empower employees to innovate and embrace new ways of working powered by the Microsoft ecosystem. Our team will help identify the right path for your people and be with you every step of your organizational change journey.

To get started, download the Rethink Organizational Change short guide or contact us.

Avanade Insights Newsletter

Stay up to date with our latest news.

Share this page