It’s time for a new approach to change management

Traditional approaches to change management are ineffective in the digital transformation of supply chains. A better approach may be found in multiplayer online games.

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Change as the only constant in business is one of the oldest and most popular management adages, widely addressed in business schools, books, seminars and podcasts around the globe. But the traditional change management approach to the digital transformation of today’s supply chains is ineffective.

What we need is an approach to organizational change that aligns purpose with methodology. Companies are telling us the old change management practices don’t work for today’s world. They were created for a top-down, linear industrial age not the fast-paced, horizontally connected, information age we live in. We can find a model for that approach in the way multiplayer games like Fortnite operate and emphasize winning as a team. Here’s why:

1. Work habits and expectations have changed. We have seen a dramatic shift in the way we live our lives. The result is the merging of our physical and digital persona into a single unified reality. This combination has made the traditional ways we interact and engage obsolete.

2. The global pandemic brought us isolation, but it also amplified digital connectedness and revealed that one of the keys to success is a globally interconnected enterprise, and especially a connected supply chain.

3. The pace of decision-making has increased exponentially, and the data surrounding those decisions is voluminous and fragmented. To stay on top of our game, we need to analyze the correct data and make rapid decisions that address the current business climate.

4. We started 2020 with work from home. It’s now evolved to work from anywhere. Deciding how our organizations will design future work is creating a paradigm shift in change management and value creation.

5. Customer expectations have changed. The “New Customer,” whether B2B or B2C, makes buying decisions based on near-instant delivery, bespoke products and services, dynamic pricing and a delightful user experience.

Each of these elements on its own is not enough to win. A new approach to change management is required that is modeled on the way multiplayer games are played, where everyone (customer, employee, supplier and partner) plays simultaneously and can only win by working together. That is how change management practices must evolve in the Era of Digital Transformation.

Here’s what a multiplayer game approach to change management will look like:

1. Dynamic Delegation - Shared leadership is new for most organizations, especially those with a strong hierarchy. The logic of it comes from the online world of multiplayer games where you must win as a team. The basic attribute: trust. This must be shared by all team members.

2. Collaboration linked to tangible results - In today’s fast-paced business world, you do not have time to blink, but you do need to know how to quickly access team skills and direct them towards opportunities. Continual communication between the team and individuals is the secret to bringing these real-time capabilities into practice.

3. Technology and Practice - Multiplayer games leverage in-game tools that teams use to win. Successful teams understand how to leverage technology to get the result they desire. This is only possible with continuous practice. Remember, the final goal of the collaboration is to win and to create a lasting culture of success.

4. Real-time data-driven analysis - Most multiplayer games offer continuous data about the team’s state of play, tools they are using, success, and failures in real-time. The uniqueness of data presented to the player, and what should be adopted by companies, is the ability to provide real-time spot-on data segmentation and value parameters to make accurate decisions that lead to wins. Knowing what to look for and how to compare it brings us speed and accuracy of decision-making.

Capturing the methodology for change management in the digital era is an ongoing journey. But if you’re willing to try this new approach, we can promise it will be challenging, it will be rewarding, and it will be fun. See you on the next level of our game to continue collaboratively as a team.

About the author: Marko Kovacevic is Managing Director, Digital Supply Chain Institute (DSCI), a research institute focused on the evolution of enterprise supply chains in the digital economy and the creation and practical application of supply chain management best practices. Based in Belgrade, Serbia he is also founder of Signet World, a business transformation and growth company.

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