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PHOTO: GoToVan

“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” – President John F. Kennedy

We’re living in a time of massive change. Disruptive technologies such as AI, robotics and the internet of things (IoT) are driving unprecedented transformations in how work is performed. 

According to McKinsey Global Institute, in 60 percent of all occupations, a minimum of 30 percent of activities are automatable. In addition, cryptocurrencies and blockchain are changing how business is done in a wide range of industries, from financial services to agriculture. And social changes are transforming how consumers interact with organizations, with a growing number of people expecting companies to be more socially responsible and deliver a more personalized experience.

Change Enables Success

With all of these ongoing developments, it’s critical for organizations to have a strong change capability. 

Why?

Well, have you ever heard of Bethlehem Steel? American Motors? Or American Cyanamid Company? Each of these three enterprises was on the 1957 Fortune 500 list — yet today, they’re either bankrupt, discontinued or merged with another company. On the other hand, companies such as Dow Chemical, IBM and Johnson & Johnson, which were also on the list, have survived. Clearly, holding on to established ways of doing things is ineffective in times of upheaval, while being nimble and responsive enables you to adapt, improve and succeed.

By embedding a strong change capability in the culture of your organization, you can leverage the opportunities that this continuously evolving world has to offer, to your advantage.

Related Article: Why a Healthy Process Culture Is Key in Times of Change

Cultivate a Realistic Approach

It’s important to recognize that successful change isn’t effortless. And there’s no one-size-fits-all solution — how could there be when every organization is unique?

Organizations should also avoid change for the sake of change. Instead of immediately adopting the latest technology or methodology, you need to first realistically examine how relevant a specific innovation is to your organization’s operations and objectives.

Consider robotic process automation (RPA). Because it offers the capability to automate many back-office functions, especially in finance and insurance, there’s a lot of hype about it replacing thousands of jobs. But when you consider that many of these occupations also require a certain amount of judgment or deep knowledge that a machine can’t yet deliver, the situation isn’t as black and white as it seems.

Similarly, although AI might be able to perform high-level analyses of data and recognize patterns in a fraction of the time it would take a human to do it, human input is still required to determine whether those patterns are relevant to the issue at hand.

In other words, RPA and AI aren’t the right solutions for every process, for every business.

Related Article: Business Process Management vs. Robotic Process Automation: How to Choose

Three Tips for Building Change Capability

So how do you build robust change capability in your organization?

1. Promote an agile approach to get everyone involved

Empower employees at every level of the organization to continually review processes and procedures with a critical eye to ensure they’re still conducive to your business objectives. By challenging the status quo through process review, you can create a culture of continuous improvement. That means value-adding changes can rapidly be adopted and non-value-adding processes or activities can be amended or eliminated.

2. Be responsive

Both technologies and market conditions are evolving rapidly, so you need to develop the ability to not just spot challenges and opportunities, but also act on them in a timely manner. First be clear on what your teams are doing today and then by getting — and staying — ahead of the curve, you can secure your competitive position in the market.

3. Focus on execution

To become best in class, your processes and procedures need to be more than just well thought out. They need to be carried out with precision, efficacy and good judgment. That’s why you need to put the right people and technologies in place to effectively and comprehensively execute your strategy and ensure your operations are fully optimized at all times.

Related Article: Change Management: The Key to Successful Digital Transformation

Enable Change: Embed it in Your Organizational Culture.

As John F. Kennedy so rightly pointed out, change is the law of life. And while none of us can predict the future, failing to look ahead to recognize signals of what might be coming up over the horizon — and being ready to react quickly to inevitable change — will put your organization at risk.

By building robust change capability, you can develop resilience to threats and grow the ability to take advantage of opportunities that can help your company thrive. Business process management can help. An effective business process management approach can empower your employees to contribute their thoughts and creativity about process improvement and innovation, so you can leverage the true power of your human capital to your competitive advantage — regardless of what changes the future may bring.