Strategy when Driving Change

Blog
07.10.20

Today the lines are being blurred between business and technology change, driven by many disruptive influences, trends and market transitions. This is all happening at a time when economic pressure is stressing the balance sheet, placing greater pressure on the business to deliver unique, compelling and relevant user experiences to deliver growth, profitability, operational effectiveness or even at its most extreme corporate survival. 

Albert Einstein is widely credited with saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”

Organisations face a perpetual challenge to understand change—what is occurring, but also what the implications will be.

Despite some individual successes, change remains difficult to pull off, and few organisations manage the process as well as they would like. Most of their initiatives—digitising core processes, installing new technology, downsizing, restructuring, M&A or trying to change corporate culture—have had low success rates. The brutal fact according to the latest research by Harvard Business Review is that about 70% of all change initiatives fail.

From the boardroom to the management team, I hear “We had a good strategy, but we didn’t manage the change very well”. Why do we take this repetitive approach? We’re humans and human beings are creatures of habit & routine, but tackling change within traditional approaches doesn’t work.

The result of this repetition is that most change efforts exert a heavy toll, both human and economic. To improve the odds of success, and to reduce the human carnage, it is imperative that executives truly understand the nature and process of corporate change.

Success is rarely ever driven from doing the same things better. It is imperative that leaders crack the new code of change

The first element of cracking the code, is the new discipline of ‘strategy’. Leading effective change isn’t just something that starts with the roll-out of strategy to the greater organisation. It’s something that starts the moment you begin talking about strategy, even more important today as change is more exponential and disruptive to the business rather than the linear days of the past.

Change itself, starts at the top and all too often I find that senior teams believe that they are on board with a new strategy and that the rest of the organisation’s resistance is what they need to address. But the truth is that getting buy-in and building consensus at the highest level of the organisation isn’t nearly as easy as it seems.

Recently, I was assisting a major global organisation on the core transformation of their business, organisation, systems and processes. Whilst the CEO and his leadership team presented a compelling business strategy and a business case for change to the board, the CFO whilst communicating his support of the strategy, was not fully bought into the decisions, changes, impact and outcomes specifically as it impacted his finance organisation.

The reality was that he was not truly aligned, therefore both conscious and unconscious bias kicked in, creating silos of information and communication that almost certainly derails any change initiative and creates a culture of resistance

Prioritising the right activity is key to delivering successful outcomes

So how do you align on strategy, gain buy-in from all individuals, establish real-time feedback mechanisms, ensure that communications, capabilities, value and outcomes are all understood and have the required ‘buy-in’ to drive successful change. Then importantly data science and analytics is becoming a reality to help organisations with this problem, helping Boards and Management teams create a ‘lightbulb moment’ to truly align and enable a priority roadmap on what they need to do collectively to become change ready and increase the likelihood of change success.

Organisations best positioned to drive successful change will be the ones that set themselves up well now, by using digitisation to help them collect the right kind of data, using predictive analytics models to get themselves on the right path and prioritise the right activity required to deliver successful outcomes. 

Once they have achieved this, the same predictive analytics can be used as a repeatable process to create a ‘heartbeat’ of change, with the same approach leveraged across the organisation, customers, partners, suppliers, and investors, to name just a few, who are all key stakeholders for change programs, thus enabling change to be sustained.

We hope you enjoyed the latest article in our change series ahead of the ‘Secret of the 16%’ event on Wednesday 18th November. Check out part one, two and three.

We will uncover the six foundations of change, the strategies required to de-risk change and successfully deliver to your business.

Sign up here: 👉  Secrets of the 16%

Martin McPhee
Written by Martin McPhee