When asked, organisational leaders often describe the change process as a draining and difficult journey. After all the thinking, planning, stakeholder management and preparation that goes into change, the execution often results in weaker-than-expected outcomes and the frustration of knowing that things could be so much better.
Acknowledging that the world is a less certain place than it was 15-20 years’ ago, planning and delivering assured outcomes is more difficult. The commercial environment is prone to greater risk of unexpected disruption; often arising from political, commercial or technological events.
When we experience organisational change today, it may well emerge unexpectedly, as illustrated in the framework below.
The best-equipped and capable business leaders respond in an appropriate and timely fashion, simultaneously exploiting the opportunities change creates through planned change programmes. The shifts in change focus from incremental and adaptive to strategic transformation are:
Adjusting to continuous, normal variation – incremental improvements to business operations and organisation effectiveness.
Planned continuous improvement – strategically moving business sections forward with planned improvements.
Business development – exploiting advances in market development, supplier, production improvements, technology shifts and knowledge development, enabling a significant commercial step change.
Organisational transformation – encompassing culture change where organisation vision, values and guiding principles are fundamentally changed, sometimes under new leadership.
Organisational re-invention – fundamental changes in what the organisation does or resulting from mergers or acquisition.
Why is change important, right now?
Whilst disruptive technologies have made some established organisations virtually redundant, the impact of growing globalisation, i-Commerce and virtual teams causes organisations to regularly review their business model. Leaders now need to be able to:
- Pre-empt operational and organisational shifts
- Plan effective change
- Respond appropriately to unexpected changes in markets and technologies
- Engage their people in the ongoing change journey (engagement link)
19% of key stakeholders didn’t understand the strategy and commit to follow through
20% of initiatives didn’t align with core competencies
Source: Strategic Iniatives Study:Adapting Corporate Strategy to the Changing Economy, 2010, Forbes Insights
What is it about change that is so hard?
Business leaders identify the chief causes of poorly executed transformation and sub-optimal outcomes as being:
- Poor planning and preparation
- Insufficient stakeholder engagement
- Inadequate identification of the change benefits
- Poor understanding amongst colleagues about why change is required, what its benefits might be and what is expected of them
- Not recognising that the mindsets of change-leaders and those experiencing it is substantially different
- Unskillful leader behaviour in handling employee and customer concerns
Transformational change initiatives have a dismal track record. In 1996, Harvard Business School professor John Kotter claimed that nearly 70 percent of large-scale change programs didn’t meet their goals, and virtually every survey since has shown similar results.
Source: Build a change platform, not a change program, Hamel & Zanini, McKinsey Review, October 2014
The Primeast Approach
Our starting point is almost-always to understand the purpose and vison of our clients’ organisation: these are the foundation-stones of all successful enterprises.
‘Purpose’ describes what an organisation is fundamentally here to do: it is expansive, far-reaching and articulated in terms what appeals most to the organisation’s key stakeholders.
‘Vision’ is time-bound and outlines what will be achieved, by when, in pursuit of the Purpose. Purpose is unlikely to change very often; Vision will be regularly reviewed and timelines and objectives updated.
Primeast’s Purpose is:
Equipping people to create great places of work, in organisations that contribute responsibly and sustainably in all that they do.
In a VUCA environment (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) nothing can be taken for granted, and all stakeholders – particularly employees – need a core Purpose and Vision as a psychological anchor. Research suggests that the millenial generation regards reward, advancement and learning as insufficient: meaning-making is also required, and this is compelling organisational leaders to develop and embody their firm’s core Purpose.
When change is either being considered or already in train, the purpose and vision become a fundamental refercne point for ensuring that the rigth things are being done at the right time, by the right people.
Furthermore, change has different scales of intensity and impact, making it necessary to bring people along at all stages. In our experience with clients, time spent doing essential stakeholder management enables a smoother, more committed delivery.
How can Primeast help?
Primeast believes in the power of involving others: developing a shared view of the future through a common purpose, co-created vision and compelling storytelling engages people in the value of change and transformation.
We assert that organisations do not change: individuals do
This means that change champions need to enable individuals to change their mindset and behaviours of their own accord. Primeast delivers core customised programmes that will support change, by:
- Understanding your needs and employee opinions
- Testing for values-alignment – using the Barrett Values Centre cultural transformation tools CTT® to develop a shared understanding of the desired future
- Targeted, effective learning and development programmes
- Leader and leadership team development at all organisational levels
- Support in creating and delivering communication strategies
Following this approach creates a ‘no-surprises’ environment, where people are equipped and skilled to manage change and to engage others around them in the transformation process.
Primeast Client Story; Supporting Arqiva through a merger and delivering the UK’s digital switchover in a climate of high-risk national interest
“I have learnt more from this Active Management Programme than I thought, and am finding it very useful, especially the telephone coaching. Thank you for the opportunity to take part and I will continue to contribute to our team’s effort to make things better.”
– Phillip Curry, Shift Leader
Arqiva (BBC) won the rights to manage and deliver the UK’s digital switchover and – in the process to absorb its only rival, NGW (ITV). The challenge was to achieve the merger whilst successfully delivering the switchover.
Primeast prepared Arqiva leaders and managers for the bid and merger, helping them win and re-organise as the two businesses consolidated. Delivering highly contextualised teamworking workshops, leadership courses and culture change events to the many teams, sites and departments which had to merge and reform.
We also supported the many high-profile key stakeholder groups including blue-light services, all mobile phone companies, RNLI, Coastguard agency, commercial operators and airports. There was high national interest and huge penalties for even seconds off-air.
To improve engagement in post-merger years including rollout of a new purpose, vision and values we ran interventions for leader development, team merger workshops and projects. We also developed customised programmes including Networking Skills and Stakeholder Management.
The digital switchover programme was successfully delivered on time, in full, facilitated by the smooth merger. In the end our work with them continued for 4 years and involved 700+ staff.
Call us for an informal conversation about how we can support you with the organisation development challenges you face right now:
To find out more about Primeast Organisational Consulting services visit our Organisational Consulting pages here.
If you need individual Leader Development or Leadership Development for the collective capacity of your leadership teams visit our Leadership pages here.