In an earlier blog, we shared with you a case study in which an organisation had successfully implemented a business transformation framework that enabled large scale organisational change. 

In this follow-on blog, we share with you some of the questions that should arise when embarking on your own business transformation: a practical “cut-out-and-keep” guide to creating your framework, again written by Rose Padfield from the Padfield Partnership.

What is the nature of your change?

Your starting point should be: “What level of change are we dealing with?”

What is the scale and complexity of what you want to achieve? This will help you think about how to first approach your business transformation framework.  The diagram below should give you an idea of the different levels of change:

If we look at the final box – Transformation Programme – you can see that this has the highest degree of uncertainty and complexity.  As such, it will require a co-creative style of leadership.  In this style, the leader acts more as a catalyst; someone who can hold different viewpoints with a belief that through that will come a path forward.  A catalytic leader knows he/she cannot have all the answers – it’s simply too big for that – and it’s only by engaging the expertise and creativity of everyone to work in an iterative manner, that the result has a chance of being realised.  The main reason large scale transformation fails is because there’s too much focus on the systems or processes, and not enough on people or change leadership.

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What other factors should you consider?

Once you understand the size of the change, some other areas of exploration are:

1. What is your organisation's culture?

How are things done?  What works and what doesn’t as you consider this change?  

These could include:

  • Sacred cows
  • How decisions are made
  • Who the key influencers are, whether formally or informally
  • Processes and systems
  • Leadership model
  • Organisational values

2. What is your history of leading change?

Where have you been successful, and what was true?  Where have you failed, and what was true? Having an idea of what works and what doesn’t – and focusing on what has worked – will enable you to design a business transformation framework that builds on this.

3. What communication channels do you use within your organisation?

Again, what works and what doesn’t?  Do you make full use of all channels (think about the differences between Generation Y and Z, and their use of social media)? 

Regular and reliable communication is a key factor of your success, and needs to be designed into your framework.  It needs to help employees to feel engaged, and demonstrate the organisation’s higher purpose. It should engage employees more than profit does.

4. How will you measure your success?

How will you track milestones, celebrate progress, course correct when necessary, and build new habits into day to day working? When things don’t go according to plan, how will you learn from these obstacles in a positive way?

5. How will you sustain this change?

This is often the hardest part!  When designing your framework, ask yourself:

  • What processes need updating?
  • How will you incorporate it into your culture?
  • How will you use our communication channels to highlight the positive impact of your work?
  • How will you take the learning, and evolve to the next stage?

Three Common Challenges to Change

Peter Senge, well-known author of “Dance of Change”, highlights the three main reasons why change efforts fail. I’ve outlined them below with some suggestions on how to avoid these pitfalls:

1. Not enough time

  • Integrate your change plan into the day to day work
  • Delegate and empower people to manage their own time
  • Remove roadblocks – what stops people being effective, day to day
  • Ring fence time to work through the change plan – even half a day away from the desk can help (make sure it’s planned beforehand so it’s not a talking shop)

2. Not relevant

  • Make sure you communicate the broader strategy – everyone sits under this
  • Make it safe for people to ask questions that test it
  • Try and connect to individual’s own goals and purpose
  • Ensure your metrics for the change align with the metrics for ensuring the long-term success of the business

3. Walking the Talk

  • Actions speak louder than words, so leaders need to live the values and put their focus on the aims of the change
  • Partner with trusted colleagues – either internally or externally – who will challenge your thinking
  • Challenge yourself – are you being catalytic and genuinely interested in different viewpoints, or do you just want everyone to do it your way?!

Your answers to the above should give an indication of what your own framework needs to look like, and which parties to involve in shaping the implementation plan. 

To read more on this, you can click here for a link to a previous blog, showing the structure of the framework that was created for a major UK employer.

Rose Padfield is an Organisational Design Consultant, Coach and Coach Supervisor with 20 years’ experience in organisation, team and individual development, within a UK, European and global context.  She has just won an award from the Association for Business Psychology for excellence in change management, based on this work.  The category required her to demonstrate the use of psychology in business within a change management context, and to be able to tangibly evaluate the results - there were many nominations so it’s a win to be proud of!

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