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Cover Story
 

Enter ‘Tactical’ Strategy
In a Superlative & most Insightful analysis, B&E Documents how Corporate Leaders have Transformed their Organisations & Implemented continental strategic shifts that have Rewritten Global Management case books
Issue Date - 17/02/2011
 
Let’s say an organisation has lost 10% of its market share to its closest competitor. When looking for root causes, one might start with customer service and discover that a new bonus plan rewards customer service representatives for the number of daily calls they handle, but not for the care they take when handling them. One might also find that customer complaints are simply sitting in a database. Armed with this knowledge, changes to the structure of the service representative bonuses and plans to build an approach for customer complaint follow-up could be developed.

What changes do we have to make?
Once we have a good handle on “where we are now” and our external and internal diagnostics, we are in a position to address the root causes identified earlier, as we look to the future to determine what the organisation should look like down the road. From strategy to leadership to structure, reviewing each dimension of an organisation with an eye to the future helps reveal potentially beneficial changes. Ideally, these conversations should take place with representatives from affected stakeholder groups and incorporate not only change leaders at the top but cultivate change leaders throughout the organisation. Then, once a range of possible alternatives for the future have been developed, each can be evaluated against specific strategic objectives and criteria to develop an optimal path for change.

How are we going to implement and evolve these changes?
The checklist for change management is a long one. It includes: getting ready for change, and creating adequate organisational buy-in, securing resources to support the change effort, working with the politics of change, supporting people through the emotions of change, planning the details, fostering creativity and spontaneity, and inspiring continuous learning and evolution.

Change readiness underlies all successful change implementation, and across the organisation. People must understand what the changes will be and why they are being undertaken. Too often, organisations fail to build a strong case for change upfront, and instead, push change through – a strategy that may produce movement, but rarely creates commitment. Indeed, the greater the input from the people impacted, the greater their sense of ownership will be. Readying the organisation also involves securing all the resources that will be needed throughout the change process.

Political dynamics emerge in every change as employees react to how they perceive a proposed change will affect both the organisation and their working lives within the organisation. To navigate these politics, it is important to identify influential people who are enthusiastic about the proposed changes and leverage their support to propel change forward. It also involves identifying those with influence who are resistant to change, and gaining an understanding of how to work through their concerns.

Change is all about individuals’ transitioning to something new. Taking the time to consider how each individual feels about a particular change and helping them to overcome their “fear factors” is a critical part of successful change implementation. In large organisations, a cascading approach to the emotions of change where direct supervisors are responsible for working through change concerns of their employees is often an ideal approach.
 
Where change is concerned, the devil is in the details. If details are overlooked, change can get derailed. Key dimensions of implementation include: who will be involved, when and how; the timing and pacing of change; the choice of communication channels both within the organisation and for external stakeholders including careful study of the ways in which change will impact customers; creating milestones and key deliverables; and developing contingency plans. Enrolling change leaders throughout the organisation to help craft implementation is essential for cultivating the on-the-ground creativity and innovation needed to ensure success as well as for building a passion for change that will be sustainable over time.

Rapidly changing business environments make it necessary for organisations to change constantly. For success to be sustainable, organisations must navigate each change effectively while building the capabilities needed for continuous learning and evolution. Change-capable organisations inspire ongoing evolution by continuously monitoring the external environment so that they are aware of leading edge practices, developing strong stakeholder relationships to ensure they have broad based knowledge, leveraging collective knowledge and best practices both externally and internally, and rewarding and incentivizing new ideas to ensure that innovations percolate through the organisations on an ongoing basis.

In sum, strategic change is complex and multi-faceted. To positively transform organisations now and for the future, change leaders throughout the organisation need to embrace the complexity of change and use each opportunity for change to further strengthen their long-run change capabilities. This will enable them to discover what is perhaps the most powerful source of competitive advantage in today’s turbulent environment – the ability to successfully navigate change, again and again.
          

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