Managing Change: The Science of Happy Endings

In this image you can see the new green chrysalis coloration, one that’s about ready to emerge (the clear one), and a butterfly that’s already come out.

How can organizations adapt to new disruptive technologies? “The only constant in life is change”, Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher, observed, and my experience has taught me that the most predictable thing about change is its unpredictability.

A study by cloud-based accounting provider FreeAgent found that 71 percent surveyed in the UK admitted to struggling with changes in their life circumstances. Over a quarter felt “physical panic” or “fear” when asked to break from their usual routines, with 15 percent refusing to adopt more efficient working policies or new office systems through fear of change.

The most predictable thing about change is its unpredictability.

Today, it is perhaps even more difficult to anticipate what the world will be like in 20 or 30 years. The impact of technological change is unprecedented and with the need to upskill and deal with change, preserving our mental balance is going to be crucial in our day-to-day lives.

Determining a change playbook

The heavyweight champion boxer Mike Tyson once said, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face” and, for me, this is the nature of change. Think back to the last time you were part of a major change of vision, direction or process. It is all about managing people, implementing processes and learning the techniques that make change easier to execute but, ultimately, it comes down to your determination to improve things.

Change is either forced upon an organization in reaction to external influences or through proactive moves to make the most of an opportunity yet to be identified. You need to sell the opportunity to your team; people are afraid and it is necessary to inspire courage before embarking on any quest to change the status quo. If your people are restricted by personal feelings, vendettas, loyalties or stubbornness against a new idea, they will cause change projects to stumble or even fail.

Most aspects of any well-run change management project within an organization are delivered in small, incremental steps. That way, it’s easier to sell the idea and manage your people’s emotions along the way.

Often, it also comes down to timing. Data analysts now study algorithms, trends and patterns to predict the likelihood of events and consumer behaviors. The fact is, change is inevitable, but positive progress as a result of change is not. Taking hold of the rewards of change requires constant attention as it rarely follows straight lines or linear progression. The nimbler you can become, the more likely you are to traverse the many highs, lows and pitfalls on your way.


Technology can even help with change

As organizations adapt to new disruptive technologies in 2024, leaders should encourage a culture of continuous learning and experimentation to foster innovation, with employees staying updated on the latest technological advancements and given the resources and training to adapt.

Investing in technologies such as blockchain, IoT, CRM, chatbots and other AI-driven tools can streamline operations, enhance customer experiences and improve overall efficiency. Implementing cloud-based solutions and adopting data analytics can also provide valuable insights for better decision-making and aid in understanding evolving consumer trends and preferences. Cybersecurity measures can protect sensitive data and alleviate security fears.

Investing in inclusive, collaborative tools to facilitate seamless communication and productivity, regardless of employee location, helps the flexible work preferences of the new generation.

By implementing these strategies, organizations can effectively adapt to new disruptive technologies in 2024 and beyond.


Yvonne de Ville is chair of the IoD Finance and FinTech Group and author of Managing Change: The Science of Happy Endings.