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Keynotes: The change imperative

We often hear that ‘change is the new normal’; if organizations are to thrive then continual learning, change and innovation is essential.

This feels right to us. Since Fitch’s launch in 2010 our clients have increasingly shared anxieties stemming from coping with conditions that are not only continually changing, sometimes drastically and abruptly, but that are harder to read. Often, we hear staff at all levels lamenting “change fatigue” and feeling that they are unable to perform at their best.

Why do we feel so much pressure to change; and what can we do about it? All organizations cope with unique circumstances; generalizing about the challenges they face is therefore a little risky. But we do observe some far-reaching trends combining in context-specific ways that impose the change imperative on organizations. The primary factors we find organizations wrestling with are technology, interconnectivity and stakeholder expectations.

  1. Technology: the rate of change itself is often astounding – many organizations feel they must run hard just to stand still. Added to this, the move towards cloud-based delivery of standardized applications creates a continual pressure for organizations to adapt how they work to the characteristics of the technology their survival depends on (rather than to tailor the technology to its needs, as used to be the norm).
  2. Interconnectivity: the extent and nature of our interconnectedness has been transformed. We feel virtually connected to everything, without necessarily being personally in touch with the things around us. Organizations must find and nurture their role in their productive ecosystem, to ensure continuously effective inward and outward communication. They must also deal with the challenge of connecting teams and individuals in environments that are constantly changing their form.
  3. Stakeholder expectations: these expectations are fueled by technology and interconnectivity, with stakeholders having ready access to unparalleled volumes of information (not all of it reliable) and inclined to strong opinions on just about everything. These expectations – of internal as well as external stakeholders – hold organizations to account and, while this might make working life harder, we believe that this is generally an important force in changing organizations for good.

These forces place demands on organizations that are quite different to those many were built to cope with; new responses are required. The imperative is for methods that ensure people – individually and collectively – are more aware, motivated and inspired, which will unleash the accelerated problem solving that is essential if the organization is to thrive on change.