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Administration | Saturation change: myth or reality?

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Based on a survey of 22 key partner groups of ESSEC Change Chairs and IMEO (Management Innovation and Operational Excellence), we wanted to assess the importance of change in organizations and a sense of the scale of the changes.[1] in the context of transformation.

towards exponential change

As stated in the words of Singularity University USA, we are entering a phase of exponential change due to some form of technological convergence. Digital technologies, artificial intelligence and robotics will cover more and more needs and this will be accompanied by many technological, societal and organizational changes. 100% of respondents are expected to increase the number of changes. For 61.9%, this increase is achieved by a number of changes multiplied by a number between 3 and 5 over the past 15 years.

33.3% of team managers manage more than 5 change projects per year and 33.4% between 3 and 5 projects. So we have approximately 66.7% of local managers who manage a volume of between 3 and 5 changes each year. Managers’ managers are more affected by the inflationary phenomenon of change. 68.2% manage more than 5 projects per year, which is more than double compared to local managers.

80% of local managers devote 25% or less of their working time to management change. 20% say they spend more than 50% of their time managing change. One explanation lies in the content of some administrative jobs that publish projects, as in information technology.

Managers-managers devote more time to changing projects. 71% devote between 25% and 50% of their time to it. This can be explained by the fact that the content of their work involves more and more changes. This class plays an important role in spreading change projects.

Organization, Community, Customer: The Change Agents Platform

Companies had to answer the question “What are the factors of change in your company (customers – societal changes – globalizing systems – technology)?” The most important change factor is organization, followed by societal changes, customer requirements, technology and globalization.

The two mentioned factors regularly appear, technology and globalization, following societal and customer regulations and changes. This demonstrates the importance of external regulations in our communities, but also the fact that many organizations publish internal normative systems. Societal changes are associated with the emergence of cooperative organizations and the search for meaning in them Concepts such as purpose and corporate social responsibility. The companies surveyed are large international groups and the concept of globalization is an integral reality.

The change of projects is justified, but it is imposed and not regulated

For 72%, implemented change projects are necessary and fully justified even if 63% say that change projects are not always relevant at the time of their implementation. 68% think projects are not well organized and 77% think they are messy. 60% of projects are seen as mandated by management and only 40% are seen as built in common to their purpose. For 63% it is too much to change and for 86% the changes are not prepared enough.

The spread of projects to all levels of the organization and the difficulty in completing projects creates an impression of disorganized movement without seeing the results. This goes against managing the transformation as a whole and evaluating how many changes need to be made in relation to the organization’s deployment capacity. This also illustrates the need for co-construction methods.

Prioritize changes and set aside time for change

95% of study participants claim no reduction in change projects. However, they are awaiting regulatory responses for a Better project management. They basically expect changes to be prioritized and want to make time. 60% claim to have experienced tension between repetitive production tasks and project-related tasks. 60% would like more leeway to roll out changes in the field.

A manager today manages between 3 and 5 changes per year and this occupies between 25% and 50% of his working time. These few numbers allow us to assert that “change is now”. This increase in the number of changes is explained by the development of regulations, societal changes, customer requirements, technology and globalization. If employees do not question the changes, they criticize their deployment methods. Change projects are seen as imposed and poorly organized. For this, companies are required to create a real transformation management to prioritize projects and propose organizations that allow time for realization and stabilization of projects.

Article written with Kevin Johnson, HEC Montreal Professor

[1] Survey conducted in 2020 and updated in 2022 for publication in the Canadian journal Gestion

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