Change Management Versus Digital Transformation Demystified

Change Management Versus Digital Transformation Demystified

A recurrent question I receive is about what the difference between Change Management and Digital Transformation is.  The simplest answer I provide is that Change Management is one part of Digital Transformation.

Change Management is about leading and implementing change successfully in an organization or business toward a specific outcome.

Digital Transformation is about implementing a series of changes that impact the organization, its business, the workforce, its customers and prospects, competitors and in some case a whole industry and its future, creating a transformed state.

First, I want to designate change management as “Change Management and Leadership” instead. Simply because if all you are doing is managing change, then your organization may not be sustainable. Change management by itself only appears to be reactive and is more of a survival approach. Unfortunately many organizations have sacrificed a large part of their ROI due to only being reactors to change. Change Management & Leadership, on the other hand, means that there is a leader who takes ownership of the situation and leading to a vision greater than the change itself. Change Management and Leadership is essential for Digital Transformation but is not itself Digital Transformation.

An organization may have successfully lead and implemented many changes making it very good at Change Management & Leadership, but without achieving digital transformation.

On the other hand, any organization that has achieved Digital Transformation has mastered Change Management & Leadership.

Change projects have always had a higher failure rate than what we would call familiar or less innovative projects. In technology, an industry with a fast innovation pace, most failed projects are in fact change projects. One reason I find is that at a point, we rely too much on the technology and our individual barriers challenge the projects, causing a succession of small issues that lead to bigger issues.

Before the advent of Digital Transformation, there was the need to “enable organizations for change” to maintain profitability and competitiveness. With Digital Transformation, there is a need to “digitally enable organizations” to prevent organizations from dying a quick death.  This occurs very quickly now, because that’s the speed at which digitalization can shift a business and organization around.

The digitally enabled organization is the new organization today. We must understand that transformation is not a destination, but something that happens during the process that leads us toward the business’ transformative vision. Change is the catalyst that, combined with multiple other elements, activates the process of making the transformative vision a reality—our new transformed business a reality!

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