Change is good: not only on an individual level but also within an organisation. The ability of an organisation to change and react to new customer needs or the demands of highly competitive business environments are key qualities that differentiate many of the most successful global companies.
World class organisations foster an environment that supports both evolutionary and revolutionary change. This allows the organisation to adapt to recurring systemic issues and radically transform an operating model to deliver significant improvements, such as efficiency benefits.
Developing a culture where continuous improvement is positively encouraged requires strong, incisive and visionary leadership, to define and support both evolutionary and revolutionary change. It also requires motivated and empowered people to identify where and when change is necessary.
Companies need to stay ahead of the game in terms of what their customers want, alongside creating an environment where employees thrive. If companies can achieve this culture, they can often reap the benefits of market leadership.
How to achieve change
Delivering a change programme does not usually happen by chance and, unfortunately, statistics suggest that the majority of change initiatives fail to deliver the desired business outcomes (see our Nine Serial Project Killers). The successful delivery of change is however not rocket science either. The key factors associated with success include: leadership, teamwork, common sense, pragmatism and control.
The following four stages provide an insight into how to create an agile business:
1. Setting clear objectives and desired benefits
Before embarking on any change initiative, ensure that you have fully understood why you are considering the change and what the desired outcomes are. Make sure to engage the business users who will benefit from the change, as they need to feel ownership of the initiative in order to make it happen.
The leaders of the initiative should understand:
The reason for changeWhat they want to achieve
2. Strong leadership and a committed team
Governance and Teamwork: effective governance, strong leadership and a motivated team are the critical factors associated with delivering successful change.
The sponsor should be a senior member of the organisations’ management team who can provide the necessary support to ensure that the change can be delivered without the distractions of corporate red tape or politics.
The core change team should be recruited from the parts of the organisation that will be the recipients of the change where possible.
Approach: one of the key challenges associated with delivering change to front line operational functions is maintaining BAU (business as usual) whilst introducing change. One approach that has proven successful over the years is ‘Create and Donate’. The Create and Donate approach comprises of two overall workstreams:
A ‘Create’ workstream responsible for ‘creating’ the new way of workingA ‘Donate’ workstream responsible for defining the new way of working and subsequently managing delivery and adoption by the users (with zero impact to BAU).
It can be argued that the ‘Donate’ workstream is the more critical. Often, change programmes have developed new processes or technology but have failed to successfully deploy these to the user community.
3. Measure and celebrate success
Measure: tracking successful delivery of the business benefits is essential. Benefits management activities should not only be initiated at the start of a piece of work, but also continue until all benefits have been realised and measured.
Celebrate: successful delivery of key milestones should be celebrated. In addition to the traditional celebrations at the end of the project, regular successes should also be applauded throughout the duration of the project.
4. Learn from both successes and failures
All journeys provide an opportunity to learn and grow – change is no different.
Grow: the best people tend to thrive on change: identifying and developing this talent along the way is a trick not to be missed. Every member of the team should have a development plan and leaders should be measured and rewarded for the development of their people.
Learn: make time to review and learn from the experience. There are lessons to be learnt from both the most and least successful initiatives.
- Ensure understanding upfront – clearly define and communicate what you are trying to achieve and why
- Ensure you have the right governance and delivery approach to allow the project to succeed
- Make the project enjoyable and funTeamwork is critical
- Communicate and celebrate successLeverage the opportunity to learn new skills