We’re on a virtual engineering transformation journey - on a quest for the Digital Twin! To reach our ultimate goal we must understand the technical requirements and challenges. Understanding the transitional challenges of the change process are as important. To reach the new development process we need to have a clear strategy. We need attention from top management and an organization that is fit to drive and support the change initiative. We’re ready to start! Now we just need to get everyone on board…

Well, getting people to embrace change is easier said than done, and there are plenty of examples of that from the industry. At one company, it had severe consequences. The company had been struggling with bad sales numbers for almost ten years and had been forced to lay off staff more than once. The situation was finally looking brighter, but to stay in business they had to improve! They started to hire new competence aiming at improving both products and development processes.

The new hirings started analyzing the development process and the conclusion was making virtual engineering methods their top priority. To start with, they decided to limit the scope to one specific issue. Their products had quality issues related to fatigue, but due to the under-equipped test facility they could no longer analyze the issues using traditional hardware testing. They decided to start a pilot project to investigate the possibility to obtain a reliable fatigue lifetime prediction from using simulation. 

At the company, they already used simulation to some extent, and their expert user was asked to join the project team. The entire project collapsed at the first project meeting! The expert user got furious, falsely claiming ”we’re already doing everything!”

For him, this was personal! He couldn’t see what he would gain from more simulation. Until now, he had been the sole simulation expert! What if the company employed another simulation expert? Or worse, what if they changed to another simulation software? He was heading the local vendor association. This was his territory, and he wanted it to stay that way!

His resistance toward the pilot project eventually led to the discontinuation of the entire change process. In time, the new competence left the company, without having achieved anything. The company still doesn’t make much use of virtual engineering methods. The products still have the same quality issues. And the sales numbers have turned red again…

Resistance is a natural part of all business transformations. Changes to an organization or its processes affect the everyday life of individuals working at the company. It is not always easy to see how you fit into the new context. People fear the unknown and we must make allowances for this already when planning the change initiative.

In all organizations there are originators, pragmatics and conservatives. The originators are generally positive to change, the conservatives negative and the pragmatics in between. It’s important that we involve them all when building the lead and supporting teams of our change process. When communicating, listen to the reactions and make sure to address concerns as soon as possible. Most resistance comes from lack of information or bad communication. Make sure everyone understands why the change is required and educate employees to increase their awareness. Make people embrace the change! The transition to virtual engineering is far too important to leave anyone behind. 

Everyone on board? Let’s get going!


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