Top 5 organizational change trends in 2019

This is  Ilkka Mäkitalo, CEO and conductor of Humap Software. Ilkka has a strong background in change management consultancy and has been working over 20 years in consultation and organizational development business. On August 13th 2018 Illka posted a blog with the title Top 5 organizational change trends in 2019.

Please read it and check it out, it is a good blog post. I want to take his 5 change trends and comment on them. I agree a lot with Illka’s thoughts, but I also have some additional thoughts and maybe even different opinions which I want to share and discuss with you today.

I start always by repeating Illka’s thesis, so if you have not read his blog post, you still can follow.

1. From change processes to continuous development

I agree, but  2 comments. First I need to say it is very dependent on the context, the culture. In the United States or Germany change process is much more defined as something that has an end when goals are achieved, or in worst case the change has been declared as a failure. In continuous improvement cultures like Japan’s Kaizen or where I grew up in Austria (Typical quote: “A little change/improvement is always possible”) we have seen more of this continuous development already for generations. Secondly if we talk major change or to counter a disruption in your market, I don’t believe in continuous development from the beginning. I claim we need a more “traditional” change process to start with, take the “elephant down to pieces” initially and once this is achieved hand-over smoothly to a continuous development culture, that is adjusted to the new situation. Without the more traditional help in many cases continuous development will not be able to cope with the size and speed of the needed big change. Take the Austrian quote and you realize it is not about little changes, it is a major re-work.

2. Implementing change is about facilitation

I can only agree. I want to highlight that it is about expertise and inspiration as Illka says, but to succeed it is also about to “get the job done”. This is what I am preaching and living, use the expertise, inspire and primarily secure to get the job done, together with the organization – the success will be additional inspiration, the experience achieved by doing it will increase the expertise, … Should not be that hard to start the continuous development then, right?

3. Digitalization is progressing by leaps and bounds

Fully agreed. But, well this is not only a trend for 2019, this is the trend of the decade – yes, we are just in the middle  of it. It goes in different ways and speed, but it happens everywhere. And it is not only digitalization, it is also mobility. It would not happen in the same amount and pace if digitalization would be limited to stationary computers, it is the smartphone as device that makes it really big.

4. Networks determine the success of change

I fully agree that networks have a big impact on the success of change. Maybe Illka is right and this is a trend in 2019, at least in the countries I can judge it. However, I am not so sure about his example that only big consulting firms or individual consultants will be successful in his example in Sweden. Illka bases his conclusion on the thesis that small and medium-sized consulting firms struggle with providing their services cost-effectively enough and loose the bidding game. This leads me to a counter thesis that, maybe not 2019 yet, but soon, a change needs to come because hiring consultants you want to have a trustworthy partner who is also able to give you more than just an extra brain or a pair of extra-hands. Today there is too much focus on lowest cost per hour, this needs to change towards most output per invested crown or dollar. And I see some mid-sized companies being on a good track, it is not that all small and mid-sized firms are sentenced to death, I claim it is the opposite. The pendulum will go back and favour them, we are in a continuous development even here.

5. More multifaceted interaction

Here I am 100% aligned with Illka. I have always been and will always be a supporter and strong ambassador of a transparent work culture. I have paid some short-term prices for being so convinced of it, when I lost a battle or contract or didn’t get the promotion, but in the long-term I think it was beneficial. That this shift to a more transparent work culture impacts the needs for management and leadership is absolutely correct and obvious. Hierarchies and the “know-how is power” attitude were successful concepts when I started my professional life 30 years ago, those are today more obstacles and if not already removed, then really needed to be overcome at the soonest.

So let us see if lllka and I are right with our trends or which other surprises 2019 will bring in the world of change management. And fully aligned with the 5. trend I am always happy to receive comments and feedback from you my dear readers. I wish you a successful and exciting week at work!