When a dramatic shift in consumer behaviour or a new competitor enters the market, transformational change becomes a matter of survival if a business is going to be able to keep up with competition and move forward.
Successful change management requires the overseeing of many complex and moving parts, as well as dealing with conflict and personality management in order to achieve the following:
- To enter a new market
- To transform a business model
- To in-source or out-source non-core capabilities
- To re-position or re-brand
- To reverse declining revenues
- To upgrade IT systems
- To update products or services to keep up with market trends
Strategic initiatives combined with credible and effective leadership and the support from the people most affected by the change are the key to successful change, achieved through the following three core areas:
1. Aligning strategic projects
Change is achieved by delivering projects that are chosen for their strategic impact, that go beyond usual business and are aligned with organisational strategy.
If projects are not strategically aligned – something which happens all too frequently – strategic initiatives to bring about change will very likely fail, often due to the burdens imposed on project managers who don’t have the necessary relational skills to deal with strategic planning and execution.
Other issues can arise when key stakeholders are overlooked and when insufficient planning and resources are dedicated toward transformational change.
Also, if the strategy is not communicated effectively or a closed communication culture exists, this can lead to resistance from those who hold vital information—and whose confidence can drive the end-user adoption and customer satisfaction required for success.
If the strategic importance of projects is fully understood by all involved, required resources are allocated and best project management processes and practices are used, these projects should yield the intended transformational results.
2. Harnessing the power of business analysis
Implementing the right business strategy and solving business problems are the drivers of major business change initiatives – despite many people perceiving change as risky and something to be avoided.
Business analysis provides a powerful blueprint of how a business operates – including its strategies – and helps an organisation become clear about its goals and flexible in its approach to achieving them.
By identifying the business needs, including what an organisation must produce to better satisfy its customers, business analysts are able to effectively communicate, substantiate and support leadership through the stages of change – to help ensure permanent adoption as well as guide the execution of the strategy.
Business analysis processes help to deliver the following positive outcomes:
- Differentiate between capabilities and processes
- Provide organisation-wide coordination
- Identify all key stakeholders
- Examine organisational structure
- Provide value mapping
- Deliver business mapping and informational mapping
- Help identify and break down barriers to change
3. Putting the right leaders in charge
Many businesses view strategic initiatives as disconnected from the realm of project, programme and portfolio management and as a result, many senior managers are without the necessary strategic qualities to drive major transformational change within their organisation.
Leaders require the following attributes if they are to effectively endorse and ensure positive change:
- Reframing in order to see situations from multiple perspectives
- Big picture/little picture perspectives that allow the easy movement between vision and direction
- Passionate detachment by leading with passion but retaining objectivity
- Creative use of power by using it wisely and courageously to build trust long-term commitment
- Positive language and choosing the right words to influence and encourage
- Vulnerability and courage by giving honest and frank feedback and making tough decisions
Successful strategic initiatives demand that an organisation’s culture, including values and beliefs also change. It’s essential to get early buy-in from individuals, especially from those most affected by the change.
Transformational change affects everything and everyone. As well as taking the steps above, organisations also need to:
- Communicate clearly and frequently with all team members so that fear and uncertainty don’t undermine efforts
- Understand both the risks and rewards of major change
- Adopt a nomadic mind set in order to keep moving forward without insisting that every detail be mapped out
- Avoid rushing to an end point, enjoy the sometimes uncertain journey toward rewarding change
For further on how businesses can adopt core project management principles, processes and best practices to achieve successful transformational change and optimise outcomes, read Doing it Right: Best Practices for Managing Transformational Change and Improving Outcomes