When it comes to organisational change, how do you make sure all the many variables for success are aligned? Most often it is the organisation’s capacity to enable and effect transformation that requires most attention.
‘speed wobbles’ can compromise commitment to the change journey
An important consideration in assessing organisational capacity to effect change is the capability of senior management in partnership with the board i.e. both functions’ ability to role model the right behaviour, their understanding of the issues and experience to support and strategically lead change from the top. It does happen, at times, that a ‘divide’ develops between the executive and board as change impacts on internal and external stakeholders. These ‘speed wobbles’ can compromise commitment to the change journey. Alignment of these two key strategic partners in major transformation is crucial to success. There needs to be a total understanding of the rationale for change, its delivery processes, the clear communication plan around it and how performance will be monitored. Dislocation and/or disunity between these two groups can be a destructive force in achieving the ‘end game’.
According to McKinsey, there are FOUR conditions or requirements that need to be in place for firms to effectively change mindsets:
1. a purpose to believe in – a vision from the top that explains the ‘story’ to all, outlining the purpose of the change.
2. reinforcement systems – reporting structures, management and operational processes, and measurement procedures that must be aligned and consistent with the behaviour that staff are being asked to embrace.
3. the skills required for change – ensuring all staff are taught the skills they need. For example, if they are required to be more ‘customer centric’ but little attention has been paid to customers in the past, they will have no idea what a successful outcome will look like.
4. consistent role models – ensuring that there are people at every level ‘walking the talk’.
These are all relevant factors in carrying out change well but I must emphasise they need to be infused through both management and governance processes.
Another significant factor that affects the level of change that an organisation can absorb is directly related to industry type. Some organisations are more wedded to their legacy practices. For example, the legal, academic and health sectors do change ‘hard’. Higher levels of participation, consultation and collaboration are often required in these types of environments. Professionally credible champions can lend important momentum to any change initiative. Once identified, champions often require discrete resources and development to play their part. Naturally this is much easier if you have already identified potential leaders and have development plans in place. However, assessing carefully the style of change that best fits an organisation’s culture is crucial to success.
Leadership readiness, a change process that is consistent with the ethos of the organisation’s culture and values, and executive and governance commitment to the ‘end goal’ are all vital if organisational change is to be managed well.