Change is shorthand for opportunity, and if companies can be a little bit ahead of shifts in business, the opportunities can be big. The problem is that companies become too focused on executing today’s business model and forget about volatile external environments.
By any objective measure, the amount of significant change in organizations has grown tremendously over the past two decades. Volatility has become routine. Commodity costs are growing as the economy recovers. Geopolitical risk is also mounting. Monetary and geo-political disruption in developed countries can now shake the global markets. Traditional economic cycles are briefer and more fragmented. Long-term growth is often interrupted by short-term unpredictability. In this global macroeconomic environment, companies must be willing to change rapidly, spend to grow their top-lines and bottom-lines, while staying fast, productive and nimble in the face of global competition for resources. Largely, organizations will be pushed to reduce costs, improve the quality of products/services, locate new opportunities for growth, and increase productivity.
The five key steps for carrying out a major change initiative are
- Develop a vision for change and get personal commitment from the organization’s leaders
- Plan a process improvement or change execution plan
- Obtain the resources needed to change a process
- Analyze the problems, risks, and opportunities and redesign the current process that needs improvement,
- Elaborate a systematic approach for creating and implementing change and the necessary training of all employees involved
Leading Organizational Transformations
Some organizations have successfully executed major change initiatives to adapt meaningfully to changing conditions, improve their competitive standings, and position themselves for a far better future. However, in numerous situations the change initiatives have failed and the resulting improvements have been disappointing, not to mention of wasted resources and burned out, anxious, or irritated employees.
Change is a constant backdrop to our work lives. Yet they are notoriously difficult to achieve. Here are seven key questions that can be helpful in determining the likelihood that a major change will succeed or fail:
- Does this change management initiative represent a purpose we believe in?
- How is this vision different, better, and more compelling than the alternatives?
- Are the organization’s leaders personally committed to the change?
- Do we know what shouldn’t change? What do we expect to happen next?
- Does the organization have the capability to make the change?
- How deep-seated is the existing organizational culture?
- Will the change actually deliver the identified outcomes?
Change in processes or changes in behavior of employees are neither easy nor straightforward to recover from organizational problems or to improve a company’s performance. Every organization should implement change first by exploring less disruptive alternatives for attaining the business outcomes. Usually, tactical moves might be enough to achieve the desired objectives; other times only completely rethinks of the corporate culture might be required to introduce new practices.