Change Management

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High Performance Cultures Reflect Better Change Outcomes

Primarily companies compete on the quality of insight they have about their own organisation. They understand what really happens in their organisation and how to organise its people, process and systems to get the best results.  The problem with most companies is that their leadership honestly believe we do not have the time or, money to invest in culture. They think it is a waste of time and resources. Yet, without a decent workplace culture, any change efforts will not be as fruitful as they otherwise could be and more likely to fail.
For other companies who talk about building a high-performance culture, they do not really know how to go about defining it. If you are interested in building a high-performance culture, start by reflecting on the characteristics of this post.  Oftentimes, when trying to cultivate a healthy culture, it always helps to look at what the best of breed companies are doing, to gain insight of what they get right and adopt some of their best ideas where these work in your own context. A change readiness diagnostic is a guided framework detailing the essential characteristics of a high performing organisation across key areas that gives the client a benchmark rating and change roadmap to drive their progress to focus on priority areas for key improvements.
High performing companies know the value of developing a high-performance culture that promotes employee engagement but, also empower their people’s performance that delivers business results. They know: if there’s a direct conflict between a change and the current culture, the culture will prevail.
Here are some of the signs you have a healthy workplace culture and a high performing team:
  • Turnover rate is low and people are in line waiting to join your team. It is not because you are offering more money than they could find somewhere else. Many times the pay is less. But people have heard about your company, and want to be a part of it. Then you are probably looking at a healthy culture.
  • Employees take ownership. When employees discover problems or issues, they take the initiative to ensure that they are resolved. They do not leave it for the next guy because it is not their job, not their fault, or, responsibility.
  • Staff are accountable. People say what they mean and mean what they say. They do not promise what they cannot deliver or, sandbag to get big kudos when they over-deliver. They tell you what they think they can do and are willing to be held accountable for the results.
  • Staff are engaged and feel they matter. They are not just people carrying out tasks. There’s a ‘how can I help’ attitude. People never act put off, defensive, or interrupted by requests from anyone inside or outside the company.
  • Staff have a positive outlook and energised by a mission. You hear leaders at all levels of the organisation talking about the mission. It gives staff energy, and they are constantly thinking of ways to get it done.
  • Perhaps the most evident sign of a highly effective organisation is that things just seem to get done.
  • Decision making is people-centred and democratised by giving people impacted in the business a seat at the table when making decisions that impact them,..
  • Leadership couple clarity of vision with an ability to steer dynamically, but do not bother creating long-term plans that are unlikely to materialise.
  • Fear is missing. People do not fret if they say the wrong thing in front of the wrong person. They are not hushed conversations because of the fear of what will happen if they are overheard. Employees in an organisation with a great culture can walk into the boss’s office with a concern and walk out knowing they were heard.
  • Communication is strong. From the top to the bottom, people communicate. The staff is not surprised with information. It is communicated well in advance, with leaders even asking the staff to help find solutions.
  • Gossip is not tolerated. It is not just the leaders calling for people to take the high road in their communication. At every level, gossip is shut down with an encouragement to speak directly to the individual.
  • Change is welcome. People are not afraid of change. It is not that everyone likes change, but most have been through it so many times and have seen the leaders manage change with care and dignity that they no longer dread it. Identifying the evidence of a great culture is all fine and good.
  • Low Absenteeism, people wake up every day looking forward to getting back to work on the mission with people you enjoy being around.
  • People are happy. It is not just a job, people enjoy the company of the people they work with.
  • The CEO or, the executive team are not insecure about others succeeding. In fact, they encourage it.
  • Managers are comfortable with their level of authority. They are clear on what their authority is and they are not resentful of what it is not. Managers are not afraid to be overruled or, second-guessed and work alongside their peers to encourage, or occasionally to correct and redirect.
  • There is staff development and effort to create opportunities for staff to advance through the ranks and into leadership.

That is not even an exhaustive list. Can a healthy culture that supports change be engineered? Yes, and this is the foundation for which, sets a company on a path to success or, failure on their change journey. Some companies in the rush to get results may think that people stuff or, addressing culture issues is is a fuzzy logic and a waste of resources, are sometimes the very companies whose quality of leadership or, lack thereof can least afford not to.  

If you are interested in building a high-performance culture, start by reflecting on the characteristics of this post. Avoid spending years and untold resources in vain attempts at culture change. We have the process, the tools, and the expertise to guide you to implementation success. Few will deny the value of innovation, collaboration, best practices, operational excellence or, a myriad of other cultural changes. Many have tried and failed. There is a diagnostic model that can be applied and map out key improvement areas to make sure you progress to become a high performer.

Do not think you have the time or money to invest in promoting a high-performance culture change?

Are you interested in having a high performance benchmarking assessment done to compare your organisational culture with the top performing companies in your industry and a report on key areas for improvement? Feel free to contact us.

 

 

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Case for Developing An Effective Change Approach

Developing new strategies or operational initiatives is the most important way companies renew themselves, by helping to preserve their competitive advantage and stimulating platforms for long-term success. Changing the existing way a business is run can be beneficial, but, it can also introduce a lot of risks. When it comes to making big changes executives know that the wild card is their employees’ capacity to adapt to a new order. Most people do not like change, especially when it comes to changes in the way they do their job on a daily basis. Preparing the company for a change by making any level of the organisation better able to deal with it may be as important as the details of the project. User adoption and business processes changes must be addressed in the change management plan. Fortunately, when companies attempt to manage people change, a little improvement goes a long way.

There are two components involved when managing a successful business transition and changing how people interact and accept those changes. Without considering both, the change initiative will most likely fail.

(1) Organisational change management focuses on the people side of change: how people’s behaviours influence operational changes, and how changes impact the intended audience.

(2) Operational change management focuses on the physical aspect of a change, for example, infrastructure, software, hardware, or environmental changes.

Chanage management has a significant impact on your ROI
McKinsey did a study to determine the role of people and process issues in change programs. They gauged the difference between the expected value of a project (calculated in the project business case for it) and the value (benefits plan) the company claimed to have achieved when program was completed. Each company’s strengths were weighted across twelve widely recognised success factors for managing change effectively, including the roles of senior and middle managers in the initiative as well as the company’s project-management skills, training, and incentives for promoting change. These two dimensions made it possible for them to compare patterns in change management strengths and weaknesses with realised returns. Not surprisingly, perhaps, companies with the lowest returns also had poor change-management capabilities, and companies that gained big returns had strong ones.

ROI Case For Effective Change Management

  • 58% of the companies failed to meet their targets;
  • 20% captured only a third or less of the value expected.
  • 42% of companies gained the expected returns or exceeded them (by as much as 200-300%).

For the  more successful companies in the study, effective change management engaged at every level: senior and middle managers and frontline employees were all involved, responsibilities were clear, and the reasons for the change were understood throughout the organisation.

  • On average 143% more of the returns they expected.

By contrast, in companies that fell short of expectations, we found a lack of commitment from or follow-through by senior executives, defective project-management skills among middle managers, and a lack of training for and confusion among frontline employees.

  • On average only 35% of the value they expected.

So what happens without change management?

This is very well illustrated taking a scenario from the McKinseys study that juxapositions the two hospital experiences both implementing a similiar change program but, applied very different methods. The contrast is quite stark and compelling for companies to ensure effective change management is integrated with their projects. At one hospital, the executive team communicated their bold expectations for the initiative, and stakeholders at every level were involved throughout it. At the other hospital, the executive team did not mandate the change and were described as ‘invisible’ during implementation, middle managers did not know who made the calls and frontline staff had no clear understanding of the new business changes or, of the reasons for complying with them.

The first hospital exceeded its expectations for the initiative (125% of the business case) in less than a year, while the second gained barely half of the expected savings. If any single level of the organisation of the second hospital had been better primed to implement the changes, it could have realised a better return on its change initiative, they would have had a much better outcome.

Firms with weak organisational change management skills have projects that unravel at both ends of the spectrum. Upper management quickly distance themselves from the project . End-users not understanding why their way of working is being changed, resist adopting the system altogether. They either do not pay attention (or show up) during training or, they continue to use outside systems and workarounds. And they encourage others to do the same.
There is a lot of work involved in making sure every person, inside and outside an organisation, it may be even harder than getting the ‘hard’ stuff right like the correct alignment of people, budgets and technology.  However, research findings focused on some of the top performing companies indicate that managing the ‘people side’ of change has set them apart from the pack.
Do not think you have the time or, money to invest in change management? Can you afford not to?
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Strategies for Growth and Moving Beyond The Status Quo

One of the biggest dangers for companies is to believe that their success means they are doing things right and keep on doing them that way. We have all heard the story of a dominant company that lost its way by not embracing change, or, by going about it the wrong way.

Taking a classic case in point, the Kodak example who at one time was the biggest photo printing company in the world. But, fearing that photography going digital would undercut its wildly profitable film business, executives buried the digital camera technology they had developed in 1980’s for fear of cannibalising its all-important film business. In contrast, Fujifilm who envisaged the disruption of digital and the decline of the traditional film took a more flexible approach to executing its strategy – by getting as much money out of the film business as possible, preparing for the switch to digital and developing new business lines. In response Fujifilm developed in-house skills and new digital product lines whereas, Kodak took the easy route to milk its wildly profitable film business and partner or, buy its way into new markets as digital took off.

Today Kodak share is only 15% versus Fujifilm who controls 40% of the photofinishing market and should serve as a warning about the danger of relying on market position and status quo over embracing change.

Balance your strategy framework to focus on your needs of today with the future state of your business

For the most part, change is uncomfortable for companies, particularly when things are going well. Most organisations want growth and acknowledge that innovation is a critical component of achieving that growth. Yet so many of them do not grow or, innovate past a certain point. One of the most common reasons for this is the perceived gap between the innovation of tomorrow versus the reality of running the business today. 

If you feel as though your organisation is mired in ‘chugging along’ delivering business as usual here are few pointers to ensure you execute the right strategy to grow and innovate to survive. It is different for every company and depends on the industry. Here are a few questions to consider when creating stepping stones between running your business profitably today and growing it for the future.

1. Are you asking ‘Why’ 

Companies must change their own thinking about long-held business habits to successfully anticipate market trends to create new businesses and Why is a great question to start transforming your mindset! It can be easy for companies to get complacent and comfortable in their success. One way to avoid this is to think about what you would do if you were starting the company from scratch today. Often, new employees ask these questions naturally. Consultants can help because they ask these questions to better understand how to help. Why do you do it this way? What would you do differently? What would you do the same? Are there things you used to do well that have been lost as you have grown? Asking yourself these questions can help you narrow your business innovation focus.

2.  What amount of risk is smart?

The introduction of change brings risk and defining the risk versus reward of a potential opportunity guides how much risk is worthwhile to determine the right changes to pursue.  For example, if a new product could increase your market by 10% but, you would sacrifice 50% of your revenue to get there, it may not worth it. Diverting all your research and development resources to new products may accelerate new revenue but, if recurring revenue from existing customers is at risk, this may be shortsighted. The answer is usually less dramatic than this example.

More often than not, the biggest risk in the change journey is a distraction from regular operations and unforeseen challenges. If uncertainty and speedbumps are anticipated as a normal part of the process, you can more easily deal with them. That is why sports teams have backup plans and substitute players on the bench and so, too must companies when assessing change with a long-range view and the confidence that the risk of the change effort is worthwhile.

3.  Are your growth and change execution strategies looking far enough into the future?

Many companies seeking change falter because they do not dedicate the time to assess market trends and changes with the longer view in mind. Drawn to the immediate payoff of a quick-win, instead, many companies focus on the core business rather than those macro changes 3 to 5 years into the future that will impact the market you serve. This is particularly perilous for fast-moving industries like tech when executing strategies for growth.  There are three key premises companies should consider when implementing their growth strategies.

(i) Maintain and improve your core products or, services. Get as much money existing products or, services to milk your current revenue by reducing costs and increasing efficiencies.

What can you change and improve to add revenue by attracting new customers and increasing the loyalty of customer base? Now, imagine that you lost them entirely. Imagine that you’re Kodak and customers refuse to buy photo film anymore in preference for the digital alternative. You would move straight to growth strategy (iii) create new business(es) – as did Salesforce when creating CRM as a cloud offering, for example.

(ii) Expand into new markets and nurture emerging business. Taking what you already have, and extending it into new areas of revenue-driving activity. Innovate products and services that extend, expand and enhance your existing portfolio but, do not yet produce revenue. 

There may be an initial cost associated with developing new go to market products and strategies, but these investments are a well-proven way most companies increase addressable markets and revenue but, stop here. Examples of this could include launching new product lines or, expanding your business geographically or into new markets. With the necessity to keep ahead of the competition, companies must also embrace what we call innovation the third growth path rule.  

(iii) Create New Business(es). Introduce entirely new elements to your business that don’t exist today by investing in transformative initiatives that look to create new products and services.

They may not produce any real returns for several years out but, could potentially double or, triple your addressable markets and, or, represents an entirely new way of solving the problems you solve today. Innovating and preparing to switch to new markets and trends happening in the industry gives any business the best chance for sustainable growth.

A standout case in point is Salesforce, they did not really create the CRM business, the leader in that sector was Seibel Systems. But, Salesforce determined that CRM users were likely ready to use a CRM solution that was not necessarily managed and implemented by its own IT department. A bold idea at the time and, as we all know how they were absolutely correct. At Salesforce, it became clear the normal enterprise IT department at customer companies had little resources to satisfy the new application demands of its lines of business. By offering its technology via cloud customers could build its own applications using business analysts and project managers rather than programmers from the IT department? Might have been a different story if, Seibel had anticipated customers preference and prepared to offer its CRM IT service via the cloud?

Practice the 70 / 20 / 10 rule for your strategic plan

As a rough rule of thumb try to ensure that around 70% of your activity is focused on (i) maintaining and improving your core products and services.  After all, you need to survive and thrive today to have any chance of succeeding tomorrow.  Allocate around 20% of your effort to focus on (ii) nurturing emerging business and R&DLeaving 10% of your overall effort. focused on research and experimentation (iii) to create future new in-house businesses and diversification of your portfolio.

How close are you to the 70 / 20 / 10 rule? Do you have a clear understanding of your current reasons for success? Do you have a plan for if they were to be taken away from you? Did you find this article helpful?

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How To Build A Business Change Roadmap For Effective Change Planning

How many of us in the profession can truly say we have been taught to develop, refine, and deliver a professional roadmap based on a sound method with consistent repeatable results?  Have been in project and change environments for years, and still astonished at the wide variety of quality in the results I have experienced over the years – and it is not getting any better. Not sure I can identify why this is so, maybe it is the consolidation and changes in the traditional consulting business or, the depreciation of the craft itself among our peers. And then again, maybe sound planning went out of style and I did not get the memo. No matter what the root cause(s) is I want to take a little time and share some (not all) of what has worked for me with great success over the years and may make your next roadmap better.

I’m no genius, but, investing in structured thinking, communication skills, and just plain good old analytic skills over the years has made the difference.  Why there is not more of this kind of investment is truly troubling.

What I’m going to share works well across most transformation programs. You will struggle to find this in the one place (I have looked, maybe not hard enough). You will most likely find something similar to this in the best and brightest organisations who have adopted an optimised way to think about how to guide their organisations to perform as expected (some of us call this experience).

High-Level Business Change Roadmap Stages

At the risk of over-simplifying things, here is the overall pattern all business transformation roadmaps should follow:

1) Develop a clear and unambiguous understanding of the current state
– Business Objectives (not just strategy or goals, real quantifiable objectives)
– Functional needs
– High impact business processes or, cycles
– Organization (current operating model)
– Cost and complexity drivers
– Business and technical artefacts

2) Define desired end state
First, (I know this is obvious right) what are trying to accomplish? Is there an existing goal-driven strategy clearly articulated into quantifiable objectives? Sounds obvious, yet many companies set out on their change program without a strategic plan or, an implementation strategy to track their progress getting there. Where it does exist in other cases business does not know about it or, cannot clearly make out what the end game means in terms of their objectives.

This could be a well-guarded secret. Or, what is more, common the line of sight from executive leadership down to the front lines is broken, where no one knows what the true goals are or, cares (it’s just a job after all) becomes an annual charade of managing by objectives with no real understanding.

Some better examples I would expect include:
– Balanced Scorecard Performance targets linked to strategy
– Operating Model Improvements
– Guiding principles

3) Conduct Gap Analysis
Okay, now this is where the true fun starts! Once here we can begin to evaluate the DELTA between who we really are, and what we truly want to become. Armed with a clear understanding of where we are and where we want to be, the actionable activities begin to fall out and become evident.

Gap closure strategies can then begin to be discussed, shared, and resolved into any number of possibilities usually involving the following initiatives:

– Organisational
– Process
– Architectural (technology)

The DELTA, in this case, represents the recommended Gap Closure Strategy between current and desired end states. Or put simply, the changes we need to execute to close the gap between where are, and where we want to be.

4) Prioritise
Now that we have the list of changes it is time to prioritise what is front of us. This is usually driven by a roadmap by evaluating the relative business value AND the complexity, plotting the risk and reward to determine if, the change is worthwhile.

It is critical here that the stakeholders are engaged in the collection of the data points and they are keenly aware of what they are scoring. At the end of the day, what we are doing here is IDENTIFYING what is feasible and what has the highest business value. I know, I know this sounds obvious, and you would be astonished by how often this does not occur.

5) Discover the Optimum Sequence For Your Portfolio of Changes
Okay, now we have the initiatives, the prioritisation, how about order by which one delivers the portfolio of agreed changes? In other words are there things we have to get accomplished first, before others? Are there dependencies we have identified that need to be satisfied before moving forward? This sounds foolish as well, and we sometimes we need to learn how to crawl, walk, run, ride a bike, and then drive a motor vehicle.

What about the readiness of an organisation to take on change? Not to be overlooked, this is where a clear understanding of the organisational change dynamics is critical (see step number 1, this is why we need to truly understand where we are). Remember culture eats strategies and plans for breakfast, dinner and tea!

6) Develop and Communicate the Road Map To The Impacted Stakeholder Groups
Now we are ready to develop the roadmap. Armed with the DELTA (current versus desired end state), the prioritisation effort (what should be done), and the optimum sequence (in what order) we can begin to assemble a sensible, defensible roadmap describing what should be done in what order. How this is communicated is critical now.

We have the facts, we have the path outlined, and we have a defensible position to share with our peers. We have the details readily available to support our position. Now the really difficult exercise rears its ugly head. Somehow, we need to craft a simple yet compelling vision of how we will transform the business, or enable new technology to accomplish what is needed.

Do not underestimate this task, after all the hard work put into an exercise like this, the last thing we need to do is to confuse our stakeholders with mind-numbing detail.

So, this is the basic pattern describing how a robust roadmap should be developed for any organisation across any discipline (business or, technology) to ensure an effective planning effort. Wanted to share this with you to help you with your own work, this is usually not an exercise to be taken lightly.

We are after all discussing some real-world impacts to many, all the while understanding the laws of unintended consequences, to come up with a set of actionable steps to take along the way that just makes sense. This method has worked for me time after time. I think this may just work for you as well.

What do you think? Is this helpful? Happy to discuss these points with you to see what is really relevant.

 

 

 

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Could Your Company Culture Be Getting In Your Way Of Change

The biggest challenge is not figuring out the right things to do, it is making the right things happen. Who does not want innovation or, collaboration to be in the DNA of their organisation?  Who does not care about quality? All highly admirable attributes, but they are difficult to implement. Know this: if there’s a direct conflict between a change and your current culture, your culture will prevail.   

‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast’, Peter Drucker.

Every company has a culture, whether they choose it, or, not, that speaks to the quality of leadership or, its lack thereof. There is a direct link between a company’s culture and the results it produces, providing a program to transform entrenched patterns into potent new ways of being and doing.

When planning and instituting change the key differentiation for high performing companies is that the executive team has ability to define and uphold an organisational culture that is healthy and mission-focused. The problem with most companies is that their leadership honestly believe we do not have the time or, money to invest in culture. They think it is a waste of time and resources. Yet, without a decent workplace culture, any change efforts will not be as fruitful as they otherwise could be and likely to fail.

A company may have a great change strategy, but what good does it do for an organisation to be epic on strategy while running off the fumes of a negative culture? What good does it do rolling out the shiny new toys or, new business practices when a business can barely limp through the day because everybody in the building wants desperately to leave? How can we be of service to anybody if, you treat our own staff like crap?

Do you see any of these red flags in your organisation, to consider whether your culture might be a bit sour:

  • Your turnover rate is high and people jump ship regularly.  Staff morale is fractured and most staff leave the organisation hurt and disillusioned. If your turnover rate is over 15% annually, do not ignore it: find out why this is happening.
  • There is a distinct need for staff to practice CYA (cover your a**). Staff are often frustrated by their culture, with some describing their workplace as being dominated by negative and toxic personalities, with underhanded and manipulative infighting that stifles growth, innovation and results. Which drives them to be more concerned with making sure they do not ruffle feathers than they are with doing good work.
  • Blame is rampant. Meanwhile, accountability is nowhere to be found. It is rarely anyone’s fault  it  just a case of good people that mean well, operating in a system that rewards self over organisation.
  • Communication is guarded at best, nonexistent at worst. When staff members talk about one another it is usually in unflattering terms. Complaining and whining were the most common modes of communication with little respect for the contribution of others on the team.
  • People call in sick. Like, a lot. Absenteeism is a massive clue that something may be amiss with your culture.
  • People cry a lot at work. This is not a joke. It is something that does happen. Let’s be real here – we expect people to compartmentalise and buck up at work. If it is not crying, it is getting angry. It is shutting down. It is somehow funnelling overwhelming emotion somewhere, anywhere, in hopes of getting through the day.
  • The board is disengaged or, appears to be controlled by the CEO or, the executive team.
  • The CEO or, executive team appears disengaged or, too engaged. When leaders or, managers over-identify with their jobs, they can get…weird…about it.
  • The organisation has grown or, decayed beyond the leadership’s ability to manage it.  The leadership was more interested in saving face than making decisions based on integrity. Changing their minds every time they give a directive, but not acknowledging the flip-flop.
  • Departments and individuals are ‘siloed’ and resist calls for collaboration or, sharing responsibility towards a common mission.
  • Try as you may, you cannot get staff to align with priorities or, results…or, nobody knows what they are, or, what their role in achieving them is, and do not know who to ask.
  • Bottlenecks abound. One person, or, a few people, have input on every decision that ever has to be made, creating backlogs, slowing progress and irritating everyone.
  • People spend more time complaining about the work environment than actually doing work.
  • Staff have little or, no autonomy over the conditions that shape their work. People have to get approval for everything, or they are observed and managed so tightly and severely, they feel like they’re in The Gulag. Inevitably leaving the management needing to influence others to get things done by any means. 
  • People gossip constantly. They put other people down. Complaints about other peoples’ performance fill the halls but never seem to reach a level of actually doing anything about it.
  • There is no staff development or effort to create opportunities for staff to advance through the ranks and into leadership.
  • Efforts to make central leadership aware of people performance and the cultural issues are bounced back to department leadership – which, of course, was where the problems began.
  • A “hero culture” is exalted – wherein business and overwork is the norm, whether it gets any actual results or, not.

I am sure this list is not exhaustive. It is just scratching the surface of a very deeply unfortunate way of doing business. Not all companies operate in such a toxic environment but, you get the point how people connect in your organisation, managers and leaders engage is a significant factor that that can make or, break your change effort.

Can an unhealthy, siloed, political or, bureaucratic culture be turned around for good? Yes, if you are interested in building a high performance culture, start by reflecting on the characteristics in this post. See in our related blog How Top Performing Companies Cultures Reflect Better Outcomes In Terms Of Change. There are plenty of cases using the right diagnostic tools and frameworks companies can turn from crisis to all time high performance companies.

If you are interested in building a high performance culture, start by reflecting on the characteristics in this post. Understanding where you are right now is as important as identifying where you are going. Every organisation is different, and every organisation will find their change capability is stronger in some areas than in others.  The first step to building your change capability roadmap is to undertake a gap analysis and get a true picture of where you are today. A proper gap analysis consists of 3 steps:

  1. Assess your organisation’s current maturity level to determine the gap you need to close to develop change capability in the organisation.
  2. Understand what change management frameworks and processes already exist inside the organisation, if any.
  3. Assess how change implementation has taken place in the past, key successes and failures in the way change management processes have been applied.

While it might be tempting to jump straight into change projects, we recommend companies facing continuous change and project activity seek to institutionalise organisational change management. Developing your change capability roadmap is a change project in itself, and should be approached as such.

Do not think you have the time or, money to invest in developing your organisation change capability? Can you afford not to?

Are you interested in having a change maturity assessment to measure your current level of maturity for change in your organisation to plot the steps needed to move move from current to future change maturity goals.  

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Key Lessons Learned Working in Change

Here are some of the lessons that summarise our experience helping clients through their business change, enterprise software deployments, and digital transformation initiatives:

  1. After 20+ years in business change, it has always been more about people and processes than it is about technology.

As much as technology has changed over the last couple of decades, some things don’t change one bit.  In particular, successful enterprise transformations have more to do with people and business processes than they do with the technology itself.  If anything, this is truer now than it was several years ago.  Change management and organisational development is more important than ever.

 

  1. There is no one-size fits all answer to digitalisation challenges.

Software vendors may push a one-size-fits-all solution since it’s what they sell, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right solution for you. For example, many vendors push trendy cloud solutions because it means more profits for them, but it’s not the right answer for everyone.

Big-bang approaches to deployments may not suit the context of the clients needs where a more iterative dripping tap approach to new system functionality may be appropriate.

 

  1. It is a truism most Consultants do not have your best interests in mind.

Just as software vendors may push a myopic solution, most consultants also push what is best for them rather than what is best for your organisation.  This is because the industry is still dominated by consultants, resellers, and system integrators with financial ties to software vendors.

 

  1. Your business should drive your digital and enterprise software needs – not the other way around.

Your business has been successful for a reason, and often times this is true in spite of your outdated enterprise systems. You do not want your enterprise software, or anything else, to cause you to lose the “secret sauce” that makes you who you are. Successful companies start with their business needs and let those drive their technology initiatives.

 

  1. Take industry hype with a grain of salt.

There will always be industry buzzwords and new trends to cloud your thinking and understanding of the market, so it’s important to look beyond short-term trends. Cloud systems, digital transformation, big data, analytics, mobility, internet of things, and a slew of other sexy terms will come and go, so it’s important to focus on what’s best for your business (see point #4).  Know your drivers for why you want to change before you execute what to change and how.

 

  1. Even the best technology will not fix your broken business processes.

One of the biggest (and most longstanding) misconceptions in the industry is related to business process management. Some will tell you that their off-the-shelf technology will help you define your business processes; but don’t fall for it!  It sounds good in theory, but today’s software is too flexible with too many options to allow short-cutting of this important part of your transformation initiative.

 

  1. An effective business and IT strategy backed up with a well thought through execution process is the foundation for success.

Companies too often start running full speed ahead with their initiatives without a clear sense of direction. The only way to overcome industry biases, hype, and myopic thinking is to define a clear digital technology roadmap that fits your specific business strategy and objectives.

 

  1. Failures do not happen overnight.

To the uneducated and inexperienced, it may seem as though one or two fatal mistakes lead to a complete catastrophe. That could not be further from the truth. Whatever the scale of the failure, there are any number of reasons why a transformation project might go awry. The business case might not have scoped the project correctly; the planning phase might not have been sufficiently thorough; the skill set needed to get the project over the line might have been lacking in some areas. Much like death from a thousand paper cuts, change program failures develop over months or years of poor strategies, decision-making, and execution. Experienced and agnostic expertise can help you identify those failure points before it’s too late.

 

  1. Business change program failures have a lot in common – and so do successful ones

Neither change success nor failure is a result of chance. Instead, there are clear and consistent patterns between those that succeed and those that fail. It is important to understand those patterns so you can pivot as things get off track along the way and any one of our independent change consultants can help with that, so contact us today.

 

  1. Advances in technology are a double-edged sword.

For the most part, enterprise technology improvements have been a good thing for customers. But, it’s also a double-edged sword. Robust functionality and impressive flexibility also make implementations more challenging from a people and process perspective (see point #1 above).  You may not need to exploit every feature of the new technology as this may complicate you processes key is to make the technology to simplify your business processes not over-engineer them.

 

  1. Dramatic enterprise software and digital transformations aren’t for everyone.

It may be blasphemous to say out loud, but some clients simply should not  move forward with their digital transformation or enterprise software implementation efforts.  For some, there is more low-hanging fruit that can be accomplished with much less cost and risk, such as business process reengineering, upgrades to current systems, or implementing point solutions.

 

  1. Vendor independence and objectivity is still a critical key to success.

In order to navigate change options and best route specific to clients own situation it is important to find a trusted, independent consulting firm, like Adastra with no ties to software vendors or, agendas to make you dependent on us to help you plan and execute your change journey. This is true not just for the business analysis or, software evaluation stage of your project, but also for the implementation phases as well.

There are undoubtedly more lessons but these few are a good foundation for anyone considering business change, digital or, enterprise software change initiative.

What do you think? Is this helpful for your transformation? Happy to discuss these points with you to see what is really relevant.

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