The new 'normal' / Change management

The new 'normal' / Change management

2023-11-20 - Blog GerJan HuisjesMonday 20 November 2023

Gerjan Huisjes (Director, VolkerWessels ITBV) shares his thoughts and advice on the changing environment for the CIO, employees and the world. What is our role in the 'new normal' and how do we deal with it? Read it below!

I would like to share with you a thought that is on my mind: A 'new normal' seems to be, or is, emerging with different rules, and how to deal with it.  I am already a tad older than most of my co-workers and have experienced quite a few changes in my existence. For instance, I remember very well that when I was young there were not even seat belts in cars. My younger brother was in the pram seat unbuckled in the back of the car. Now we have 5-star Maxi-Cosi's and not wearing a seatbelt costs €169 in both front and rear seats. Another example: When I was young, my father and also many relatives and acquaintances smoked heavily. There was plenty of smoking in the house and in the car. So much so that it was just blue with smoke when entering. But then, there were no smoke detectors back then and less awareness of the health damage so no one thought it was special. Nowadays, we can hardly imagine it.

So things change, sometimes step by step, sometimes at a tremendous pace. This sometimes leads to longing for the past, but also to astonishment about what was once 'normal' (e.g. driving around without a seatbelt in the car). There are also things you think "how did I ever manage without this" and realise how much I miss it when it doesn't work (Dynamic cruise control is a personal favourite).

We also participate in this from our field of digitalisation. We have already provided our end users with a lot of change in recent years, such as: Windows 11, ERP migrations, Security, use of dashboards and 'thanks to' Covid also accelerated MS Teams and on top of that, AI and Copilot are already around the corner. For some a relief for others it evokes a great longing for the past when things moved at a leisurely pace and you worked with the same system for years. It is up to us to guide our users through this. Hence the word change management in the title. And also in terms of rules of the game, which I talked about at the beginning, it is absolutely no longer the case that everything is accepted blindly (both in our digital profession but also in the rest of society, this is true in my view). Explaining 'why' we do this has become incredibly important and it is now the case that everyone also has an opinion on it (and mostly likes to express it anonymously), with some adding something and others absolutely not.

Thus (depending on your age) we have already experienced some change and one thing is certain: things will keep changing towards the future too. What is normal now will not be normal in a few years. So we have to adapt. That is a simple thing for some but quite impactful for others. I still think back with a grin to when my father had made a bet with the neighbour to stop smoking immediately. Whoever would start again first would treat the other to dinner. There was some peering back and forth across the street to see if they could catch each other in the act. But what happened, within 2 hours of the promise both had already smoked again and after 4 days they admitted this (under pressure from their wives) to each other too.... No chance. So saying to change is easier than doing.

In other words, change is something of all times. It was there, it is there and it will continue. So we, as digitalisation managers, certainly participate in it and we realise all the more, especially with the corona crisis, that change has an impact. On some little on others an awful lot. My expectation is that the speed of change will increase rather than decrease so the challenge will only increase.

My appeal is therefore to keep an eye on change of the normal of our people. Technology is progressing but how we ensure that our people also stay (well) connected is going to take quite some effort in the coming years. But ultimately, even the next generation will look back in ten years' time and sometimes grin and sometimes longingly reminisce about the days when we still called via Teams....

Gerjan Huisjes
Director
VolkerWessels ITBV

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