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Executive Summary

Introducing change in Digital Learning Environments (DLEs) depends highly on the capabilities of Leaders. In order to capture the experience of leaders in the hospitality industry, I interviewed two former colleagues who worked with me in InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG) and Rotana Hotels. We, collectively, proposed a model called DAPIE, which is a five-step process that illustrates the steps leaders can follow to address change in DLEs. The description of the DAPIE model explains the interconnection with established change theories and models.


The first step in addressing change in DLEs is defining the change (See Exhibit 1). This step includes outlining the general objectives behind the change, what is changing, why it is changing, and whom it impacts. Organizational change types vary in scale and duration and may include structure, systems, strategies, and workforce (Al-Haddad & Kotnour, 2015-a). Therefore, a clear definition of change is vital. A focus on individuals impacted by the change is equally important. One of my colleagues emphasized that after she identified the objectives of the change, it was essential to ensure that change objectives align with the organizational beliefs, she stated that “our hotel is always concerned to win the battle for the “hearts and minds” of our colleagues. Educating colleagues, enabling them to believe in the change while engaging them in the process at the same time, is, therefore, a must” (R. Alyahya, personal communication, February 17, 2020). Al-Hadad and Kotnour (2015-b) argue that “it is important to plan for change, and address the critical factors that lead to successful” (p. 254). Both colleagues asserted that leaders should define critical factors such as time, budget, business, technical, and human objectives, along with the objective of the change. Defining the change objectives enables leaders to assess change more successfully.


The second step in the DAPIE model is to assess change itself. That is to study the scope and impact of the change. Performing SWOT analysis – analysis of strength, weakness, opportunities, and threats- is a typical example hotelier used according to the interviewees. Both colleagues conducted a SWOT analysis before implementing a new Learning Management System (LMS). They stated that SWOT analysis helped identify skill and knowledge gaps (individual readiness level) and resources needed for implanting the change (organizational readiness level). For example, “After conducting a SWOT analysis, we realized that our employees have different levels of computer and technology literacy” (T, Lapsh, personal communication, February 15, 2020). Weiner (2009-a) organizational readiness for change theory emphasized that organizational members’ change commitment and change efficacy are essential in implementing change. He also explained that leaders could assess organizational readiness through assessing “human, financial, material, and informational resources necessary to implement the change” (Weiner, 2009, p.4 -b). Khan (2017-a) highlighted that adaptive leadership theory “can be implemented in complex situations where the leader-follower relationship is attended to, but so are all environmental, cultural, and societal factors that will affect leaders and followers” (p.180). The adaptive leadership approach creates follower motivation by taking into account individual needs and goals through proper planning. 


The third step in the DAPIE model is to plan for change. Organizational changes involve many stakeholders; a plan that involves and outlines the role of each stakeholder affected by the change is key to successful change management. Biech (2007) argues that the engagement level of stakeholders in any change initiative affects the success of the change implementation plan. According to Al-Hadad and Kotnour (2015-c), Total Quality Management (TQM) first step is to plan for change to address problem-solving and carry out continuous improvement in the workplace. Both colleagues mentioned establishing a detailed plan that identifies the impact of change on a hotel level and the interconnectivity of stakeholders and change agent’s responsibilities. “Creating a plan for implementing our new LMS helped us anticipate and mitigate the risks it also helped us develop implementation and release strategies” (R. Alyahya, personal communication, February 17, 2020). “Planning also includes allocating budget to reward employees that promote change and introduce new ideas for shifting to DLE” (T, Lapsh, personal communication, February 15, 2020). Planning change effectively helps leaders with implementing change.


When leaders build the proper foundation, implementing change can be much more comfortable. Leaders need to roll out changes, making certain resource allocation and change communication align with the organizational systems, structure and policies (Al-Hadad and Kotnour, 2015-d). Both colleagues agree with the Judson method that includes five stages for implementing change “analyzing the organization, planning for change, communicating it to people and finally reinforcing and institutionalizing it” (Al-Hadad and Kotnour, 2015, p.249-e).


The final step is to evaluate change, which is to ensure maintaining momentum, applying methods for continuous improvements. Reflective and adaptive leadership theories encourage leaders to receive feedback from people affected by the change in order to ensure that institutional change efforts produce successful results in meeting goals (Khan, 2017-b). Through evaluating change, leaders seek to identify how the implementation is more efficient and effective. They can facilitate lesson learning and the establishment of best practices that organizations can apply.


Leaders’ capabilities are crucial to introducing change in DLEs. Adaptive and reflective leadership theories equip leaders with the necessary behaviours to implement change. Following the five-step of the DAPIE model can help leaders define the complexity level of change and accordingly assess organizational and individual readiness levels through utilizing a proper organizational change, implementation, and evaluation plan.


Al-Haddad, S., & Kotnour, T. (2015). Integrating the organizational change literature: A model for successful change. Journal of Organizational Change Management,28(2), 234-262. doi:10.1108/JOCM-11-2013-0215 

Biech, E. (2007). Thriving through change: A leader’s practical guide to change mastery. Alexandria, VA: ASTD Press.

Khan, N. (2017). Adaptive or transactional leadership in current higher education: A brief comparison. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning18(3). doi: 10.19173/irrodl. v18i3.3294.

Weiner, B. (2009). A theory of organizational readiness for change. Implementation Science, 4(67). Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1186/1748-5908-4-67