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Managing Change

ButterflyIn an uncertain world and an economy that remains hard to predict organisations have to react faster to changing market conditions and adapt quickly to their new economic environments. This unprecedented pressure to transform and change affects everything from launching new products and services, gaining market share, reducing operational costs, improving efficiency and effectiveness or ensuring successful integration from mergers and acquisitions.

The implications to the balance sheet of getting these things wrong would suggest that most organisations are skilled in the art of change management, but often this is not the case. Research from FTSE 250 board members and public sector leaders found that only half of senior directors or executives claim a better than 70% success rate from major change or transformation projects and only 7% judged them to be fully successful.

The main drivers of change were cost reduction (28%), IT consolidation (14%) and redesign of organisational structure (13%). Half of the respondents reported that the projects were business critical and could not risk failure.

There are steps that can be taken to ensure transformation projects or programmes are successful, on time and within budget.

  1. Engage stakeholders early and properly resource change programmes as financial pressure at the start means they are unlikely to succeed.
  2. Measure the benefits to demonstrate the impact. Less than a quarter of the senior teams in the survey accurately tracked the benefits of the projects after they finished and only half while the projects were running.
  3. Stay agile to changes in resource requirements and unanticipated requirements during the lifetime of the project by making sure systems are in place to identify and react to these appropriately.
  4. Prevent any gaps between the board leading the work and the delivery team with good communication, reporting mechanisms and governance. Open collaboration fostered from above is key. If not the delivery team might feel they cannot raise issues and problems early enough to prevent them affecting the overall outcome and the leadership team will lose confidence in the delivery teams.
  5. Build the skills, experience and stamina for change internally to remain agile and responsive.

The ability for organisations to manage change matters now more than ever with the pressure for change set to increase in a globalised, customer driven economy it is no longer a one-off event, rather ‘change is the only constant’ (Heraclitus, Greek Philosopher) therefore we must adapt to our environment to survive.

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