The history books will demonstrate that the most significant change usually occurs only when there is significant external pressure or imminent danger. So when the majority of companies reach out for advice and assistance, they need actionable answers asap.
How many times have you hired a traditional advisory firm that delivered very expensive and elegant strategic guidance without adequate thought being given to whether or not the current organization had the ability or capacity to execute the recommendations?
This is one major reason why nearly two thirds of all change efforts fail in the first year.
AHPL has developed a next-generation practice based on the operating principle that change strategy in this dramatically changing world must be developed dynamically and evaluated within the context of the organization's goals, culture and ability to execute.
- We stay with the program from analysis and advice through to implementation and assessment.
- We have brought leading experts to our practice who provide the expertise to thoroughly evaluate the organization's structure, processes and human capital with an eye toward outcomes and the collective ability of the organization to execute.
- In addition, we are able to recommend, design and implement new alignments. This includes the development of new skills through training as well as the ability to identify and bring new talent into the organization.
One important aspect of our change leadership capabilities: our partners have actually been involved in and led major change efforts across a broad range of companies, cultures and change cycles. Some examples of company issues we have worked with to implement major change initiatives.
(Are your dots connected?)
A large global technology company committed to a massive strategic transition from being a far-flung multi-local federation to an integrated global enterprise. After analyzing current business systems, competitive framework, company culture and capacity for change, we worked first on global strategy harmonization followed by a plan for managing the process worldwide, based on a common set of operating principles. This included organizational strategy, common metrics, brand management system and rules of engagement, global system for sharing information and lessons learned, new incentive systems and training.
(How many of your brands actually qualify for passports?)
A large FMCG company wanted advice on how to more efficiently and effectively manage their wide portfolio of brands across borders and regions. We first analyzed the portfolio and recommended the brands that qualified for cross-border management. We found that the company had four brands that could travel globally, sixteen that had common characteristics in certain countries around the world and the remainder that were essentially multi-local brands. We then developed organizational strategy, information system, operating principles, processes for managing brands in each of the categories (global, multi-country, multi-local), information management dashboard and training.
(What makes you think you have a global brand strategy
that will be accepted by your local operators?)
A major fast food company needed a system for better integrating their marketing efforts across their system of strongly independent franchisees. We developed the business case, integration plan, work processes and rules of engagement.. We also developed an organizational strategy and plan which regionalized the ownership of the global strategy to be more inclusive and reflective of local interests and market nuances.
A successful communications company with a tradition of strong local and departmental independence was starting to lose ground to better integrated competitors with alarming frequency. We first analyzed the organization and culture and found that the company was competing more with itself than its competitors - fiefdoms, internal warfare, managing up instead of out in the marketplace. We then analyzed the market drivers, developed the business case for an alternative strategic approach, designed the plan, new structure, processes, metrics, incentive program and training program for "attitude readjustment" and new skills development.
Here are 10 important lessons we learned from those and other experiences:
- Have an actionable, achieveable plan and roadmap or don't pass go
The effectiveness of your plan directly affects your chances for a successful outcome. Here are some elements of an effective change plan:
- Identify and articulate the vision and goals in a way that will resonate with the organization.
- Develop the business case for the change needed to get there.
- Identify the values, organizing principles, conditions and metrics of success. Adequate resources.
- Identify key aspects of the organization and culture must be preserved.
- Carefully assess the organization's capacity to change and how the plan be geared to ensure that it doesn't surpass organization's capacity to achieve the desired change.
- Be clear on how the company will support the change and what management do to visibly lead by example?
- Don't focus on change. Focus on goals and outcomes.
One of the biggest mistakes in early stage change efforts is to focus first on change. Management leaders must first clearly articulate the vision and goals for the organization before laying out a plan for change. People must first understand the goals before they can embrace the need for change to achieve them.
- Generate and sustain a sense of urgency
There is precious little time in today's fast moving and ever-changing world to dilly dally. Most people don't like to change and most of them are cautious about buying in. This can doom the entire program right at the start and cost you dearly in the marketplace. People must clearly understand the market forces in play and the risks of inaction. And management must be clear, in both word and deed, that there is no other option than to act NOW. This sense of urgency must be shared and supported across the company's management ranks.
- Understand that the path forward is seldom straight
Just like shifts in the wind, circumstances can and do frequently change along the way. You must plan ahead and be able to make adjustments while keeping an eye on the end goals. Change leaders must listen hard, constantly gather new information and learn what is actually happening in the organization, then course correct their change process and timetable. Many well developed change strategies have failed due to slavish adherence to the plan instead of the strategy. Zig and zag your way to the winner's circle
- Communicate frequently and freely
Times of change are periods of uncertainty for most people. It is crucially important to keep the communication lines open and flowing freely, both ways, to keep people in the loop and help them to adjust and understand their personal roles in the plan. Encourage dialogue.
- Get some early points on the scoreboard
Management must look at the change program in multiple innings. It is a fact that 71% of teams that are ahead after the first half of a match are those who ultimately win. The first 3 -6 months of a change program represent the tipping point for success or failure. This is the period when most of the organization (usually two-thirds) will evaluate their level of commitment to the program. You must generate early momentum in the form of early symptoms and evidence of success. Most effective plans will identify the people, visible rewards and events to focus on for this purpose.
- Build Constituencies
Minimize command and control as the management style for implementing change. You can no longer simply order your people. They need to be wooed into the cause. You must identify the "early adoptors" to the change program and include them as ambassadors. From there you need to focus on enlarging the group. You must be clear in helping employees understand expectations and their vital personal roles in the plan. It helps to visibly those who succeed as part of the change program..
- Be sensitive to your organization's capacitiy to change.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to initiate a change program that does not reflect the level of your company's actual ability to change. Or you initiate a plan with goals that are literally out of reach. That's why so many traditional consultant plans never get implemented - they fail to gear the changes to the organization's capacity for change. And why most major change efforts fail or fall far short. You must gear your plan in stages that stretch but don't suffocate your people. We know how to do this.
- Stick with It
Understand that, like a rainbow, there's no finite end point to change efforts. That's good because today's marketplace requires constant adjustment and nimbleness. Your goals should be to sustain a culture of "urgent adaptability" as a major plank in your plans for marketplace success.
- Fear Not
Significant change leadership tests the upper limits of most leaders' confidence, commitment and faith in themselves. Am I pushing too far? Do I have the support I need from my co-workers and my board? Will I be able to demonstrate real results that impact my company's growth and bottomline? What if I fail? When in doubt, read the history books. There you will find that no significant, positive change ever occurred in a straight line with no obstacles. You will also find leaders who felt the same way you do! Life in the next economy is not for the timid or the faint of heart. Fear not but do your homework.
The pressure to evolve business models will continue to increase as the Next Economy unfolds. AllianceHPL is well experienced with helping clients to successfully change and succeed in this dynamic environment. We've been there and have the scar tissue to prove it. We also have a track record of success in helping to steer companies to higher levels of effective, profitable performance.