Article

Imple­men­ta­tion

To win the future, train for change (agile com­pa­nies do)

December 1, 2020

Author

Flip De Herdt

Country Manager Regional Country Manager

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. 

Author

Flip De Herdt

Country Manager Regional Country Manager

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