Finding your way in a world of change

in Financial Services, 22.12.2014

Each one of us is used to operating in uncertain – even volatile – markets. While we may often wish for more breathing space to think, reflect and plan, we are rarely afforded that opportunity. „The only constant is change“ is the only truly predictable reality. What does vary however, is the speed of change.

A new wave of transformational programs on the horizon

There is growing momentum globally for businesses to continue transforming, as business leaders make additional investments that will lead to a new wave of transformational programs and substantial change. So, when change – and the expectation of change – is unavoidable, how should it best be dealt with?

The market shows signs of two broad strategic directions: “George Foreman” companies and “Muhammad Ali” companies. While George Foreman companies are prepared to be hit by external forces, they are positioned to absorb the blows. By contrast, Muhammad Ali companies seek to become so agile to avoid getting hit at all. Many businesses introduce various initiatives in an attempt to become Muhammad Ali organizations. The market, however, shows George Foreman companies typically leading their market segments, relying on considerable reserves to survive the blows. What is shared by successful companies of both types is a solid plan that reflects the envisioned change.

Embarking on a transformational journey

Transformation needs to be carefully orchestrated, well timed and not taken further than necessary. Prior to embarking on a transformational journey, management should consider two questions: “where are we now?” and “where do we want to go?” These questions will inform the transformation path. They will help produce a change vision that is well reasoned, easier to communicate and to which people can relate. Management and staff can each use this path as a compass for the entire journey, utilizing a range of proven methodologies and tools along the way. It will recognize that how to transform is of similar importance as what to transform.

An observation we would make is that recurring business topics such as achieving annual budget ambitions are increasingly conducted under the “transformation” umbrella. The aim is to achieve a heightened level of attention and importance within the organization. We believe this labeling is not necessarily the most effective route to change. It can draw new areas into the change agenda that should not strictly be there, inflating the feeling of change within a business and potentially leading to “change fatigue” among staff. It may be better in most instances to keep non-change related targets separate, leaving room for ‘normal’ business development in addition to genuine transformation.

 

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