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Change managment in mining

Practical strategies for change management in mining

Ready to make a change at your mining business? In mining, transformation can’t just be managed, it must be engineered. In this post we share some no-nonsense strategies for engineering a strategic vision for change management that delivers business value over the long term. 
Change is inevitable in mining today. Change can be exciting, and it can create a sense of progress. But changing simply for the sake of change will not create any real value for your business, or the mining industry as whole. Change must be strategic, holistic — and personal. The transformation of a mining business must be sponsored by the top management, and the approach should be tailored to your unique organization.  

Operational change must be driven by strategic change

To begin with, it is important to distinguish between operational change management and strategic change management. Miners need to cover both categories. Strategic change management focuses on the “why”. Your strategy must define how your core motivation will expand through every corner of your business. Operational change management is what turns the strategy into business value. That operational change will affect your business and the people on your team.


Change doesn’t occur by hanging up some inspirational posters and saying, “We’re investing in digital transformation.” And progress can’t be driven by consultants who are chained to inflexible change management frameworks. Operational change strategy is the responsibility of your top management — change won’t work without that sponsorship. To communicate an inspiring vision for change across the organization, leaders must understand why they want to change in the first place. 

Transformation of a mining business must be sponsored by the top management

Traditionally, change in mining has been driven by the implementation of new technologies, such as purchasing a new type of drill. Today, it is not just about new machines, it is also about adopting new software, automation and data-driven ways of working. A desire to just keep up with digitalization trends is not a good enough reason to change. Without a clearly defined long-term vision, you will lose steam and will not see a full return on your investment in change management.  


Sponsorship, in terms of getting financing and critical resources for projects, is a challenge. That is a job that must be looked at in terms of numbers. You need to get the capital from the board, the management, and other key stakeholders. To get that sponsorship, you need to make a case based on value. A convincing case for change is always linked to your strategic objectives. Otherwise, why make the change?


Whether you want to improve operational efficiency, safety, resource optimization, or competitiveness, you need to understand why you are investing in change management. You must have the conviction to say: “This is the way we're going to go if we want to reach our strategic objectives.” 

Transformation requires change engineering, not just change management

People often think change management means helping the staff to feel comfortable with change. Of course, it's great if people feel good. But to get real value from your investment in change, you better understand what that value is. Change means you are going to disrupt people. You are going to have to do specific things to make it work. It is going to take time and money. So, in the end, the value that’s delivered better be worth it. 


Once you have the sponsorship for strategic change, you need to motivate the people that are actually carrying out change at the operational level. You need to explain why you are asking them to change, and what results each team in the organization must achieve together.


A key part of mission-based change is breaking down silos between functions. Mining can no longer be about step-by-step handovers to the next person. Change must be holistic and owned by everyone. Ensure two-way communication as part of the process. Feedback from the very people who will be disrupted will make the process as smooth as possible.

Miners need technology partners that support their vision for change

Miners should not look at things in terms of “technology projects''. With that approach, team members always see learning new tech as something added on top of their regular job duties. When technology is built into the organization, it becomes part of everyone’s job, and an enabler of how you do business. With that holistic approach, mastering technology is part of what defines success for the entire organization. Without a hands-on partnership, the relationship with technology provider is simply buyer and seller. With a real partnership between the miner and the tech provider, you can truly drive change and create value together.


Change is not easy, it's hard. If technology implementation and digital transformation was quick and simple, everyone would have done it already. With a technology partner, you have help to define goals, make decisions, and engineer change. At Epiroc, that’s what we're doing. We're driving valuable change and transformation together with our industry-leading partners. Working with a partner that shares your values and is committed to supporting your efforts is critical for success. That's what makes today’s change in mining exciting. 

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