— Marshall Goldsmith, Mojo
The section is about Management of Change for the Business. These should be very familiar to anyone who deals with strategic planning and execution. This is one area that I subsequently spent over 7 years working on in a couple of organisations after I had lead the European change programme that I was part of that developed the Management of Change approach. The focus areas are as follows, but rather than explain these in the normative strategic planning frame, I will try to add commentary on the Change Programme aspect. So let’s see if it works:
b1. Alignment of Strategies
Often, change programmes run in parallel to normal business activities. This means that you can in fact have divergent and possibly conflicting strategies going on at the same time. One of the worse examples I ever came across was where an organisation was planning on a major off shoring exercise [moving roles to another country], but at the same time, was actively recruiting new resources within the country. Action: Check the major programme strategies and current business strategies complement each other, or that there is a convergence plan in place.
Likewise, goals in programmes can be in direct conflict to those within the business. One programme I was involved had a goal of reducing the costs of the business by 20%. However, the organisation, had no such goal and was on a path to expand its building footprint by leasing another building for 10 years. You can imagine the result that would have had. In effect a redundant and unoccupied building, costing rent. Action: Align the goals of the programme with the business, or change the change the business goals over a multi-year period to bring them into alignment.
One programme I was involved with decided to measure the "number of customer call backs". The programme wanted to measure the number of times a "customer called into the call centre", but the business were measuring the number of times a "customer was called back by one of our agents". Whilst the measure was called the same, the actions and outcomes were completely different. Suffice to say, one meeting was very confusing as people from the programme team and the business argued as to who was correct. In the end, both sides changed. The programme talked about "inbound calls" and the business talked about "outbound calls". Action: Get your definitions, targets and measurement framework agreed.
b4. Cost Reduction
Cost reduction is ALWAYS a given for a change programme. Why else would a business want to make significant investment in people’s time, effort and participation in a change programme? However, I like to think of Cost Management. Cost Reduction smacks of fewer resources, space, effort, etc. To me, cost management is making sure you have the optimum level of resources, functions, capabilities in place. Action: Think in terms of Cost Management and try to balance the outcomes with the benefits.
b5. Voice of the customer
One of the key outcomes for a change programme should be a measurable and beneficial improvement in the service you are giving to your customers. One change programme I was involved with a few years ago was to replace a number of out dated Customer Relationship Management [CRM] IT systems with a single, shiny, all singing, all dancing, 21st century product. The focus was cost reduction – plane and simple. We did say at the time, that customers would not like the way they would have to interact with the call agents as they had to use the new system. “D” day came and it failed! Not the system itself, that worked. What failed, was that the users were forced to ask questions to the customers to be able to log the trouble tickets in a particular way. This was counter-intuitive to the approach before. For example, when someone asks you for your middle name, month of birth and colour of house; rather than name, age and address. Action: Always bring the voice of the customer into any change work. Look outside-in; even get customers involved in the change work.
b6. Management Structure & Ownership
For the change work to succeed, it not only needs to be embedded into the organisation, it might need management structures and ownership to turn it into a “business as usual” part of the organisation. Action: Think of transition management, handing over to managers in the business. Perhaps, getting them involved early.
b7. Business Impact & Priorities
A business impact assessment is normally needed as part of the implementation planning. This looks at the impact of the changes to the business and also should specify what changes will need to be done in what order. Hence the need to prioritise. For example, in a recent piece of change work, the way we charge for services have been modelled for two full years. The previous year and the future year. This is to see what the impact is and then to prioritise the order of cost changes. Action: Spend time on the assessment – even have it as one of your change work-streams. More time spent on this does help.
B8. Risk Taking
Change always involve an element of risk. Back to the CRM example above. The one thing that was done correctly, was there was a “fall back” plan in case the system failed. The old systems were not turned off and within 48 hours, the call logging was reverted back to the old systems and processes. Action: Recognise it; Plan it; Resource for it; Model and Practice the Impacts.
B9. Evolutionary Steps
A business is always reluctant to change – hence the quote at the top of the article. Whatever change work you are undertaking, realise that you need to take baby steps and not just giant changes, like changing from driving on left to driving on the right – OVERNIGHT! Check out this news item, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/8243110.stm Action: Plan in small steps that will not be seen as risky
b10. Foundation for the Future
Remember, all change is building for the future. I will leave you with this thought…
Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future." John F. Kennedy