The last decade has shown explicitly how the advances in technology are transforming the way organisations work and adapt to change. The latest Marketing Form’s Research Report for last year, lists change management as the second most painful challenge, right behind budget.

One of the biggest hindrances to change is, in many cases, the large accumulated legacy landscape of applications and processes, a burden that needs to be maintained and can make a company fail – Kodak and Blockbuster know something about it.

Not having to deal with “how things used to work”, startups are winning large slices of the market. However, the tremendous pace of technology change is pressing companies to do more and more in every budget cycle: innovations keep piling up on top of old technologies, and organisations continue to fall behind the technology migration curve. The bottom line is that, in a few years, even today’s startups might no longer fit.

The second biggest obstacle to change is, traditionally and not very surprisingly… resistance to change! The Nobel prize–winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman explained that human beings have two brains “running” in parallel, each of them based on two different models: System 1 and System 2. System 2 is “our slow, deliberate, analytical and consciously effortful mode of reasoning about the world”. System 1, on the contrary, “is our fast, automatic, intuitive and largely unconscious mode”. Since changes are managed by the lazy and energy-consuming System 2, it is simply easier to maintain the status quo. That is why people seem to be attached to their habits, even if they do not like what they are doing, and changes trigger a general feeling of anxiety.

It would be like if somebody asked you to cross your arms the opposite way to what you have been instinctively doing for years. It will likely feel less natural, and it will take some effort.

Trying to keep up with the developing business environment, many companies opt for quick fixes and push rapid changes, that ultimately fail. The old Centralised Model does not seem to offer a satisfactory answer to the needs of Change Management, and it will less and less in the future, considering the increase in the number of millennial leaders.

Having grown up in an ever-changing environment, on a constant rollercoaster ride, they are, by definition, best equipped to embrace change. However, that does not mean millennials will just accept any change the organisation put forward, and companies that cannot get their own people to accept change will hardly sell it to their customer.

To facilitate innovation in your organisation, you might want to consider building change capability through one of the following models:

Distributed

In this model, each project team or division develop their own change capability. Change is embraced but mostly on a project-by-project basis.

COE (Center of Excellence)

It supports a distributed model, but with a centralised function that standardises practices and validates change management providers.

COP (Community of Practice)

The distributed model in this scenario still provides the main engine, but it is supported by a committee of change practitioners oriented to collaboration rather than standardisation.

Irrespective of which strategy you will adopt, keep in mind what works best for millennials to ensure that change is understood and accepted.

  1. Select your media: social networks and instant messaging apps might be much more efficient in your change management strategy than long meetings.
  2. Change your KPI: the number of hours sitting in a chair is no longer the currency that values productivity as the line between work and personal life is not so neatly defined as before.
  3. Invest in professional relationships: while the previous generation focussed on hard skills, millennials are more interested in “emotional intelligence” and willing to put people first.
  4. Increase feedback delivery: Gen Y leaders likely prefer regular feedback to annual reviews.

A survey released by PwC suggests that millennials will ultimately “reshape the workplace”. Let’s embrace this change!

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