Persuading your stakeholders of the value of digital change

Any kind of organisational change can be challenging. This guide provides a useful framework for understanding how to communicate with and involve staff and volunteers in addressing the need for digital change in heritage organisations.

A female baker sells bread at a market
Photo by Kippa Matthews ©

Persuading your stakeholders of the value of digital change

1. Planning for change

When planning to implement any kind of significant change to the way an organisation runs, it is necessary to make sure you have people on board. This can be especially difficult when adopting digital change as it may challenge staff, trustees and volunteers to get behind a way of working which may feel outside of their expertise, knowledge and experience. Essentially this may represent a huge step outside the comfort zone for many.

2. Change components

Our expert, Dr Stephen Dobson, University of Leeds, explores how much you can generate an interest in digital change for your organisation.

In the field of management research, it is usually agreed that a change initiative such as digital involves three components, as shown in the pie chart below:

A blue pie chart giving equal weighting to the three components: open discussion, regular communication and full disclosure of information
Pie chart showing the three components to a change initiative

Open discussion

Being clear and honest about the need to make changes and to invest time and energies into digital projects or wider digital transformation of the organisation is really important. Sometimes this might result in quite difficult conversations, especially in small organisations. This is particularly the case if people feel threatened or challenged by the reasons for change, or if the results of change may disrupt their normal day-to-day working.

Conversations should be open and participatory with opportunities to brainstorm together to maximise the potential of shared ownership of the need for digital change.

To help you structure these discussions, you can also look at the root cause or ‘fishbone’ analysis in our resource ‘Using root cause analysis to help you identify where digital can make the biggest difference’.

Regular communication

When planning for change it is important to discuss your ideas with a range of people. External partners, contacts, consultants, peers as well as trustees, staff, volunteers and even your own visitors and wider audience. Feeding back to those in your organisation about the progress of developments will be an important way of keeping people informed. That way they can understand some of the rationale for change, especially if ideas developed in any initial scoping discussions with staff end up being discarded further down the line.

Full disclosure of information

Implementing change will, by definition, be disruptive and obviously this may require changes to budgets or even personnel.

3. Managing resistance

Welch and McCarville (2003) [1] outline a valuable process for communicating change in the diagram below:

A visual representation of the four requirements to manage resistance to change: crystallise the need for change; relate the change initiative to common objectives; clarify employees’ roles in creating change and promote new behaviours to help implementation
The four requirements to manage resistance to change: crystallise the need for change; relate the change initiative to common objectives; clarify employees’ roles in creating change and promote new behaviours to help implementation

To minimise resistance to change and maximise employee engagement, it is important to create an environment where employees can “vent”. By managing this inevitable outcome to change it becomes easier to respond to concerns, or to show you are listening to them, in the moment. This helps us to address worries and build a more positive attitude to the change you are hoping to implement. You might hold a series of roundtable discussions or forums to provide a space for this.

Stories and metaphors can be really valuable ways to build positivity about change. Hearing the experiences of other organisations which have perhaps embraced new digital ways of working can help get even the most resistant staff on board.

References

[1] Welch, R. and McCarville, R.E., 2003. Discovering Conditions for Staff Acceptance of Organisational Change. Journal of Park & Recreation Administration, 21(2).



More help here


A man faces the camera, standing inside a cathedral lit up in blue lighting

Using root cause analysis to help you identify where digital can make the biggest difference

This guide explores the use of fishbone/root cause analysis as a way of for you and your team to establish key areas and issues that may need to change.  Root cause analysis helps you to identify your organisation’s biggest challenges and weaknesses and how digital change can help to address them.

 
Light installation from Illuminating York, British heritage city

Why might digital change be a necessary disruption for my organisation?

Managing change is necessary in a landscape of rapid changes and emerging new technologies. This resource introduces a practical tool to help heritage organisations make the most of the opportunities that digital innovation may offer. Exploring the art of ‘improvisation’, you will learn how to embrace productive change.

 

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Change Change management Digital Staff Stakeholders
Published: 2022
Resource type: Articles


Creative Commons Licence Except where noted and excluding company and organisation logos this work is shared under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC BY 4.0) Licence

Please attribute as: "Persuading your stakeholders of the value of digital change (2022) by Dr Stephen Dobson supported by The Heritage Fund, licensed under CC BY 4.0




 
 


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Digital Heritage Hub is managed by Arts Marketing Association (AMA) in partnership with The Heritage Digital Consortium and The University of Leeds. It has received Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and National Lottery funding, distributed by The Heritage Fund as part of their Digital Skills for Heritage initiative. Digital Heritage Hub is free and answers small to medium sized heritage organisations most pressing and frequently asked digital questions.

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