By FLIP DE HERDT, OPERATIONS MANAGER (MIDDLE EAST)

Building change capability in your organisation is like becoming successful in running marathons. 

Before you take up the challenge of running a marathon, you need to train to get there. You may reach out to a coach to set up a training programme. The programme will change the way you eat, sleep and run so that you can achieve your goals of becoming a marathoner more efficiently and effectively. 

After a few training sessions, the run gets easier. You will go from being able to run just 10km to 20km. And then 30km. Soon, you will be a marathoner. You even enjoy the challenge! 

An organisation is the same. Each time it implements a transformation initiative, it gets better at it. The next change initiative will probably run much easier and faster. 

Get ready to run 

Industries failing. Cyberattacks. A threat of another pandemic. These are just some of the challenges the world may face in the next few months, say risks experts  

Essentially, the future may be more riddled with huge disruptions. In the next two years, the fundamentals that many companies are built on such as globalised supply chains or pools of resources may be negatively impacted. Things that we’ve always taken for granted may not be there in the future. 

A frightening thought. But companies successful in transformational change will overcome these challenges. Even more, during this difficult time they can use this as an opportunity to reshape their organisation into a more agile and adaptive culture that can cope better with the unpredictable future. Building an in-house change capability will become a competitive advantage. 

The most urgent thing companies must do now is to build and embed the capability to transform and change towards their goals.  

Even in better times, organisations struggle with their change initiatives. In fact, about 70% to 80% of change initiatives fail. With the changes brought upon by COVID-19, the challenge has gotten more difficult. Organisations must now be more diligent; they must ensure that their change initiatives bring the results they have envisioned.  

But improving your company’s capability for change – to move from a shuffling, out-of-breath jogger to a confident runner – is easier said than done. If most change initiatives fail, how do you beat the odds? 

In our years of experience working with clients, we know that agile and change-oriented organisations have mastered a blueprint of change. They’ve continuously run the race of change and have improved with each lap. They get the followings steps right:  

  • Inspire with a shared vision. 
  • Make it happen and celebrate success. 
  • Raise the bar. 

Step 1: Inspire with a shared vision – “I challenge myself to run a marathon”  

Leaders in an organisation must have the vision of where the organisation needs to go. They must define the goals of the change initiative for it to succeed and then effectively communicate it to the entire organisation and ensure that change happens. 

An organisation’s leadership must be able to say: “Guys, we need to turn this organisation around! We need to do it now and do it rapidly. And no, it is not a failure that we need an external partner to facilitate making the change.”  

And if some people in the organisation refuses to step on the track and insist: “This is how we’ve always done things, and I’m going to keep doing this”, the organisation’s leadership must be able to explain the necessity for the change, the company’s vision, and detail the next steps.  

Step 2: Make it happen and celebrate success – I will get in shape for the marathon and celebrate after finishing it 

Once you have decided to run the marathon, you need to get in shape. Set up a training plan, change your diet. Basically, start living like a marathon runner. To do this in a controlled way, most runners fall back on a coach that will help them get ready for that first marathon. 

A similar story applies to organisations. Companies must first analyse where they currently stand. They need to determine the gaps they have towards their vision of success. Secondly, they must prioritise the key initiatives. Only then can they deploy the strategy for change.  

Next, organisations often stumble at the implementation stage. An organisation may have the most comprehensive plan to get to their destination, but if they do not ensure that the workforce adopts the new way of working, the change initiative will fall flat. 

That is why it can be an effective strategy to work with an implementation and change management partner to co-create the plan and direct the behavioural change that will drive results. Like how one trains with a coach to run a marathon, implementation partners have the insights and skills to help your organisation reach its goals more effectively. 

Step 3:  Raise the bar – “I will be 10 minutes faster in my next marathon” 

Communicating and celebrating success not only improves employee morale but helps build trust in the organisation’s change capability. 

However, like a marathoner seeking to improve his time in the next race, you should continue to aim for higher goals.  

Agile, future-ready companies have a culture of continuous improvement. They’re always seeking ways to run better, faster. They’re always transforming to be better versions of themselves. As a result, they’re more able to respond proactively to unexpected events because they have trained for change.  

Ready, set, go! 

If an organisation has learned how to “run”, they will be able to deploy this capability with ease if and when the next disruption hits. 

Companies that start building on their organisational change capabilities now will be ready for the next disruption. Companies like these will thrive in the future. 

Agile companies that have mastered change management will be proactive to change and thrive in the future. Download our white paper, Future-ready, Agile Organisations: The Winning Blueprint for Change to get the framework for change today.