A change driver is a force or factor that initiates or drives change within an organization. Change drivers can be internal or external to the organization, and they can take many forms, such as technological advancements, market trends, financial challenges, leadership changes, or regulatory requirements. Change drivers can impact various aspects of an organization, including its strategy, plans, designs, products, services, and operations. They can shape the direction of the organization and influence the decisions and actions taken by leadership and employees.
Change drivers can be either positive or negative, depending on their impact on the organization. Positive change drivers, such as technological innovations or market opportunities, can provide opportunities for growth and competitiveness. Negative change drivers, such as financial challenges or regulatory changes, can present challenges and require the organization to adapt and respond. Understanding the change drivers that are impacting an organization can be helpful in developing strategies and plans to navigate and respond to change. By identifying and anticipating change drivers, organizations can be better prepared to adapt and take advantage of opportunities, and to mitigate and manage risks. The following are common change drivers beginning with internal drivers and progressing to external ones.
Mission & Vision
Many organizations are driven by a leader with a mission and vision for the future. Such an organization may seek to define the future as opposed to reacting to day-to-day competitive pressures.
An organization may establish principles that are designed to shape change. For example, a principle of minimizing negative environmental impact or of putting customers first in all decisions.
The capabilities of an organization tend to be a change driver. If you have strong engineering capabilities, you may view everything as an engineering problem. If you have strong marketing capabilities, you may view everything as a marketing problem and so forth.
Many organizations are in the habit of measuring things, improving them and measuring again. In this case, measurements need to be carefully designed such that a single factor isn’t over-optimized at the expense of everything else. For example, an obsession with cutting unit costs can result in quality failures, liability and reputational damage.
The practice of trying many things in a lightweight way that can fail without much damage. The idea is to try brave ideas and scale the ones that work.
The norms, habits and expectations of your organization. For example, some organizations are resistant to change such that people try to slow down or derail progress.
The ability of leaders to get people moving in the same direction.
The resilient people in your organization who are able to overcome a large number of problems to push change through. An organization filled with change agents will achieve a very different rate of change as compared to an organization filled with resistance to change.
Lead users are your customers who are pushing your products and services to their limits. They are often an important source of change. For example, a large customer of a cloud computing platform who needs much faster network performance than you currently offer. Such a customer might point out your weakness on a regular basis and push you to improve.
Going out and asking customers what they think, feel and want.
Some firms are quite sensitive to criticism and will change based on criticisms by customers, the media or the public.
External innovation that forces you to change. For example, most firms were forced to open a website and/or migrate to one with the commercialization of the internet in the mid-1990s.
Competition such as a competitor who is always lowering their costs and prices.
Changing customer needs such as a shift in demographics to an older population that demands healthier food items.
Changing customer perceptions such as increased awareness that a particular food ingredient is healthy or unhealthy.
Shifting customer preferences such as a fashion trend whereby a particular color, style or format is suddenly popular.
Supply & Demand
Changes in supply and demand. For example , a supply shortage that results in a spike in material costs.
The introduction or elimination of government regulations.
The economic environment such as interest rates, economic stability and the availability of funding.
Political events in areas such as trade barriers and political stability. For example, a need to replace a supply partner due to a trade war.