We’ve all heard the adage “the only constant in life is change.” If we put that in the context of IT transformation and user experience, it stands to reason that how we manage change on an ongoing basis becomes absolutely fundamental. This does not ring more true than in the extraordinary times that we are currently living in. Case in point, 24 months ago, when the COVID‐19 outbreak was officially declared a global pandemic, companies around the world were faced with change of epic proportions and challenged to put their agility, infrastructure and subsequently, their people, to the test.
For companies that were early adopters of hybrid work practices and collaboration tools and were well into their digital journey, this was a validation of their investments, not just in technology, but in the organizational change management (OCM) practices required to shift and evolve company culture. At the core of all change and transformation, are people, and by supporting the ‘human’ elements of change throughout their digital transformation journey, these companies were better positioned to swiftly pivot and absorb change with minimal long‐term impacts.
For companies and industries where physical office presence was still the gold standard or where digital transformation was still in early stages, the pandemic served as a catalyst for digital acceleration like never seen before. While the herculean efforts made by these companies in terms of logistics, infrastructure and adoption of new tools to shift from in‐office to work‐from‐home were truly impressive, the changes imposed were in many cases, not grounded in a solid foundation for long‐term sustainability. People and processes were forced to change out of necessity and many concessions were made (and tolerated) by end‐users and customers on the premise that things would eventually go back to ‘normal.’ Over time however, the cracks in the foundation have become more and more apparent. The impacts of reactive change are wearing on people, but the hybrid landscape is here to stay, and digital transformation and change are not slowing down.
Now more than ever, companies should take the opportunity to evaluate the maturity and effectiveness of their existing change strategies, and invest in building a long‐term User Experience (UX) and Organizational Change Management (OCM) practice. OCM and UX practices are grounded in effective communication techniques and employ dynamic methodologies that balance data and user sentiment to meet their end‐users and stakeholders where they are, and bring them along the journey more effectively. An example of this would be establishing a network of ‘change ambassadors’ across the company. Define roles that allow end‐users and stakeholders to participate in ways they feel comfortable with. Some users may be more inclined to sign‐up to be part of focus groups or as beta‐testers. Others may want to serve as ‘heralders’ or change advocates that help cascade information about the changes to their broader peer groups and organizations. In either case this network of ‘change ambassadors’ becomes a resource of human and social capital that can strategically be tapped into throughout the ongoing transformation journey.
Investing in this type of ongoing practice versus taking a siloed approach to change can bolster a company’s long‐term ability to successfully adapt and scale as they transform. After all, if change is constant, then putting a start and end date on organizational change management or restricting it to a project timeline marginalizes any long‐term benefits. Follow‐through is paramount. OCM and UX efforts don’t stop at implementation, they keep going, and it’s important to continuously stay in tune with expectations and perceptions from varied perspectives (i.e., IT, business stakeholders, end‐users, etc.).
Unfortunately, many companies stop at implementation, and that is a grave mistake. Following through post implementation and establishing a mature OCM and UX practice is a key differentiator between success and failure when faced with transformational change, especially in this ever‐evolving post‐pandemic, hybrid, digital landscape. By embracing the ‘human’ factor of change and embedding it into the fabric of an organization’s DNA, that delicate yet dynamic balance of people, process and technology that has historically eluded so many companies can successfully be achieved, and more importantly, sustained.
The views expressed in this article are expressly those of the author.
Yamila is a dynamic global IT executive, board member, public speaker and mentor with nearly 30 years of leadership experience across multiple IT and Business disciplines including IT Service Delivery, Organizational Change Leadership, Workplace Services and End User Experience, Contact Center Technology Services, Network Services and Tools Optimization, and Healthcare IT Innovation.
She started her career in Healthcare as a pioneer of early EMR and Managed Healthcare software solutions and has since spent much of her career leading cross-functional/cross-industry global teams and driving innovation at transformational companies including Dell, HP, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Atos. Most recently, Yamila joined the senior IT executive leadership team at Munich Re – one of the world’s leading providers of reinsurance and insurance-related risk solutions. She has earned numerous accolades throughout her career, including being named the 2021 HITEC Member of the Year as well as being a 2020 Great Minds in STEM Luminary Award recipient.