AI tools as vanguard in a stagnant landscape

Redefining change management

Redefining change management
  • Blog post
  • March 26, 2024

Dieter Kern, Cindy Zhong, and Lukas David Hoffmann

Companies are facing a dilemma. The constant need to adapt to a turbulent external environment has led to change fatigue and cynicism among employees, creating obstacles to progress and threatening the future well-being of the business. Moreover, there have been no recent groundbreaking developments in the principles of change management to suggest that a magical new solution to this problem is at hand. However, we see new evidence that through the astute use of new available technologies in combination with proven methods, companies can go a long way in combatting the challenges of change fatigue and increasing the effectiveness of change management programs.

The change conundrum

Evolving customer needs, rapid technological advances, intense competitive pressure, and geopolitical crises are forcing companies to redesign their structures, processes, and culture on a continual basis. However, any intended transformation is now fraught with difficulties due to growing employee skepticism in the face of the constant change barrage. Our own experience of working with clients as well as available surveys have indicated that employee willingness to support organizational change has plummeted in recent years.

Employees now also have heightened expectations of their managers when it comes to the change process, demanding more involvement and communication. In our project experience, many employees feel that their company’s behavior and commitment during the process is not up to scratch. If this situation does not improve, talented employees will inevitably embark on their own personal change process and switch employers.

If companies therefore find themselves at an impasse, what novel approaches are out there to help them break it?

What technology can offer

The University of St. Gallen and Strategy& conducted a comprehensive joint assessment of modern change management approaches and tools. The analysis concluded that there have been no recent groundbreaking conceptual advances in the field, neither in academic theory nor in its everyday practice in the business world. New fashionable buzzwords may have been coined and established ideas rehashed, but nothing new of substance has actually come to light.

However, the analysis also showed that the emergence of innovative tools promises to make the change process much smoother and more impactful. Although self-confident change agents may claim that there is more to change than the application of tools, such technologies can certainly help to overcome the twin challenges of change fatigue and heightened expectations. By making use of data analysis, artificial intelligence, and digital platforms, companies can gain sharper insights into the needs of employees and their responses to various stages of the change process. Technology can also aid vital communication and facilitate participatory decision-making, making employees feel more valued and respected.

Indeed, new tools on the market can help companies to enhance the following core elements of change programs that have remained constant over time:

  • 1
    Establishing a clear vision of the change objectives and specific goals
  • 2
    Conducting open and transparent communication with employees, answering concerns and building support
  • 3
    Identifying and engaging change agents at different levels of the organization who can lead and promote the change
  • 4
    Implementing continuous monitoring and adjustment of the iterative change process

For example, digital collaboration platform Howspace can be used to define goals, communicate with employees, and monitor the progress of the change management program, while Beekeeper is a cloud-based platform that has been specifically developed to aid the planning and implementation of organizational change in real time. Tools like MONDAY.ROCKS provide data driven insights in the transformation progress and AI based change intervention recommendations for leaders. Meanwhile, in-house AI chatbots can strengthen communication and interaction with employees by answering specific queries and collecting feedback.

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Integrating and customizing tools for successful change

In summary, a range of cutting-edge change management tools can enable transparent communication, facilitate the exchange of information, foster effective collaboration, and strengthen the necessary skills within the organization.

Although these tools can make all the difference, they cannot work in isolation. The recipe for success in change management lies in a balanced triad, combining proven methods, up-to-date approaches that consider emerging issues such as change fatigue, and the use of such innovative tools. Moreover, this holistic approach can only be fully effective if it is precisely tailored to the specific organization and its own challenges, with such customization helping to bring about the desired impact and a successful transformation.

Contact us

Dieter Kern

Dieter Kern

Partner, Strategy& Germany