Organisational Change Management - What does it mean?

“Culture and people are the biggest barriers to successful digital transformation” - Gartner 2017

The Organisation Change Management landscape is full of projects that deliver technical changes successfully, for example, rolling out a new communications platform. However, if users aren’t actually using the tools correctly – or at all – we end up with a failed project, and a massive waste of time and investment.


Training is not enough to ensure user adoption.

There is an old notion that providing training on a new product will suffice. Surely, if we give users the new tools, and provide them with training, then the project is a success and we can move on to the next one? Unfortunately, we’ve firmly established that this really is not the case!

I want to draw on an analogy here that I heard from a talented speaker at a digital transformation event I’ve attended recently.

‘Think back to a time when you’ve been socializing with friends, perhaps around the table at a pub or restaurant, when the dreaded subject of politics crops up, and you’re faced with someone that supports an opposing party to yourself. They sit there talking about how great their party is, all the benefits it brings, and how life with them in power would be so much better. Does them sharing their opinions with you for a short amount of time completely turn your head to get on board? Most likely, no. You may agree with some points, and recognize some benefits, but you’ll still retain your own opinions and forget about it all when you leave.’

This rings true for a multitude of technological implementations – let’s go back to the idea of a communications platform rollout. The IT department may decide that it is being rolled out, and provide some information and training. But that does not mean that the end users are on board. Unless a user fully accepts and adopts the new technology, nothing will change. If the rollout goes ahead anyway – giving the users no choice – there will be significant resistance to change.


Resistance to change – what’s the big deal?

Change resistance creates a negative perception of the technology, which will expand further if not addressed. It spreads easily, and can lead to overall project failure if not addressed properly! I’ve worked with many companies who have reached out when they are in this exact position and are in desperate need of “retrospective” change management – which is much harder to achieve than change management that was planned in from the start. Sadly, many organisations in this situation simply decide to abandon the technology and search for something else to plug the gaps.

But it’s not all doom and gloom! Incorporating a robust Organisational Change Management program from the beginning can significantly mitigate project failures due to resistance. Buy-in from stakeholders can be built by using particular methods to:

  • increase their desire to use the products
  • recognize the benefits
  • and therefore, increase adoption.

The change methods come in many forms, including full user analysis, push and pull communications, benefits mapping, organisational and culture analysis and tailored training for specific use cases. We should also not forget executive sponsorship, stakeholder analysis and recruitment of change agents to ensure we have the right people involved – that lead the way for others to follow!

Voilà, we’ll then have a project that can set out to do what it’s meant to.


McKinsey and Company research shows that 70% of all transformations fail.

It’s there in black and white – the need for Organisational Change Management. Whatever it is you’re doing, lean on the experts in the OCM field to deliver the results you want, and realize your true ROI.


This article was contributed by Emily Merron, Organisational Change Manager at Arkadin.