Crafting and Conveying a Meaningful Message of Change : A Case Study of How Data-Driven Change Communication Can Drive Change Readiness in a Swedish Rental Services Company
Sammanfattning: In today’s turbulent business environment, an increasing number of businesses and organizations are finding themselves confronted with a crushing pressure to constantly reinvent themselves. Given such a business environment, coupled with high stakes and fierce competitiveness, it is quite unsurprising that most change efforts are reported to fail. Change communication, or rather the lack thereof, has been pointed out as one of the most important reasons. In recent years, many scholars have started to differentiate between participatory and programmatic change communication, elicited by a reconceptualization of change as continuous and emergent rather than episodic and planned. Participatory and programmatic are two diametrically different ways to approach change communication, and thus, they each require different tools, techniques and strategies. Several scholars have called attention to the shortage of tools, techniques and strategies suitable for participatory change communication in particular, however, empirical research remain scarce. At the same time, the data revolution is right upon us. Businesses that fail to harness the true potential of their data see themselves outcompeted by those who do. Even though data since long has been prophesied to transform management altogether, it is only in recent years that its application within the various subfields of management research has received serious attention by academia. However, the application of data in change management in general, and change communication in particular, has largely been left unaddressed. In this thesis, we are exploring the role of data in the context of change communication through a case study at Skanska Rental, one of Sweden’s largest construction equipment rental companies. We delimit our study to only treat one of the most important aspects of data-driven communication; namely, data visualization. Our findings indicate that data visualization can facilitate change communication by encouraging it to be participatory. In particular, we find that data visualization has the merit of enthusing its audience, aligning the perception of the current state of affairs, reinforcing a data-driven culture, and facilitating interpersonal communication. We also call attention to three important considerations; (1) the democratization of data requires transparency trade-offs, (2) data visualization cannot replace interpersonal communication, but at most facilitate it, and (3) communication, although one of the most important, is not the sole precursor of successful change. We conclude our thesis by addressing the practical and theoretical implications of our conclusions, and lastly, by suggesting directions for future research in data-driven change communication.
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