Change Management in the VUCA Era

Dr Mark Lee

Embracing change is the only way businesses can continue to survive amid the disruption and uncertainty brought on by COVID-19. Dr Mark Lee’s e-Series on change management will help professionals to identify those key areas that require change and to properly initiate them

Certainty is a very important aspect within the accounting profession. However, beginning with the Sino-United States trade war and social unrest in Hong Kong in 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the profession, practice standards and environment have been fraught with uncertainty and change. Many companies, as a result, have been fighting to survive, putting professional accountants under more work pressure. 

The most effective way to deal with change is to do so dynamically while identifying new opportunities. Change management is a never-ending task for all corporate executives, especially in today’s era of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA). Generally speaking, the success rate of change is less than 30 percent, so the question is how can corporate executives adjust their pace to respond to these rapid changes and yet strive to help all team members work hard in this uncertain environment?

The Asia Pacific Institute for Strategy identifies the impact on the industry and changes faced by manager and practitioners from three perspectives: environmental insight, management-level change and practitioner change. This helps industry participants to deal with new changes from different angles.

Change is also a continuous process and not a single event. Many management gurus and corporate change practitioners have proposed or summarized methods of change management, such as Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model, McKinsey’s 7S model, Lewin’s change model, and so on.

The pandemic has also changed the paradigm of work and life as we know it. Many people realize that we can’t return to socializing like we used to for some time, so to cope with change, it is important to turn crises like this one into opportunities.

Telecommuting may be the most important way of working under the new situation. This poses a huge challenge for accountants, as in the past, accounting work had to be done on-site. Due to ­changes in working methods, employees’ skills and work drive will also need to change. Because they cannot manage face-to-face, how can managers empower their employees? How can they ensure that employees know how to drive themselves? How can employees quickly master the “informatization” and IT capabilities required for the new remote office?

About the course

To help companies strike a balance between seeking new business breakthroughs in this complex and ever-changing environment, and helping accounting practitioners to overcome the impact of uncertainty, the Asia Pacific Institute for Strategy has launched its Change Management Series.

The e-Series, Change Management in the VUCA era, is a series of three modules targeting professionals at all levels, from young leaders, middle management, to executives. The series includes tools for change management, new work paradigm response methods, and the roles that management and organizations play in the transformation process.

The course combines the current VUCA industry and social environment – especially the impact of the pandemic on the industry – to provide managers with a new perspective to promote the realization of change. It shares six new work paradigms and discuss how to make key decisions and deal with different challenges under each work paradigm.

By the end, the course aims to help professionals address these questions: Are you and your company at a loss due to changes? Have you learned how to deal with it? Or have you identified that the crisis has brought you new opportunities? Faced with new opportunities, have you made the relevant changes?

Change requires leadership, management and the participation of all employees. To understand your role in this transformation, the course also shares how to identify the core competence of a company as a manager, and then lead the company to efficiently initiate change.

Dr Mark Lee has more than 10 years of research and teaching experience at the university. He currently serves as the Research Director of the Asia Pacific Institute for Strategy, and his research covers areas such as strategy and operations management. He has previously been invited to be a guest speaker at the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, Association of International Accountants, The Chinese Manufacturers’ Association of Hong Kong, Federation of ASEAN Accounting Firms, Federation of Hong Kong Industries, Derui International School, among many others.

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