Integrating Project Management and Change Management

Change is the new norm

The business landscape looks very different now compared to ten years ago. Continued advances in technology and changing consumer demands are bringing major disruption to the way most sectors and industries operate. In addition, there has been a shift in the workforce with an influx of tech-savvy millennials entering the job market with fresh expectations and often disruptive thinking around how things should work. More than ever, business leaders face a constant challenge to sustain and evolve their business to remain relevant, profitable and ahead of the competition.

Organisations are awash with projects – be it developing or adopting new technologies, upgrading systems and processes, creating new products and services to meet changing customer expectations or just planning for changes in regulations (GDPR and Brexit come to mind). Take a step back from it, you quickly realise that implementing a project and then letting things settle down for a sustained period just doesn’t happen anymore. In other words – change is the new norm.

Considering this, it is no surprise that clients often come to us asking for support in setting up a Project Management Office (PMO). They usually have many competing projects and requirements across their organisation, and recognise the need to have a consistent methodology in place and be in more control of these activities.

This is clearly a positive step for an organisation to take, establishing good project governance and practices is something I know they won’t regret (assuming it is followed through properly). However, there is something else that is often neglected and then regretted further down the line. It is the challenge of not just delivering projects, but the wider piece around ensuring they are effectively adopted, embedded and sustainable within the organisation. Or to put it simply – the integration of project management and change management within the PMO.

 Let’s look at what often happens

PMOs traditionally concentrate on providing governance in order to ensure that projects are  delivered to the triple constraints of time, scope and budget. The focus is predominantly on the condition of the project (scope, time, budget) and to a lesser extent on the people in the organisation, the affect it will have on them and the strategies that need to be in place to ensure effective adoption. In addition, the cumulative people impact of changes across the entire organisation are commonly not considered.

Particularly in larger organisations, and especially with IT projects, it is common for much of the project team to be external and commonly there is limited business representation and meaningful end user interaction. This means that processes (old and new) and the associated impacts aren’t fully understood leading to issues and delays in delivering the project. As a result communications are often late and training / training materials aren’t ready or of sufficient quality. Often businesses are too scared to communicate as key stakeholders don’t have all the answers, but the result is radio silence which leads people to feel in the dark and disengaged from the project.

 The panacea – the integrated Project & Change Management Office (PCMO)

More recently, we are seeing increased success in organisations that choose to implement change management resources and practices within their PMO. The project methodology and governance model are adapted to integrate change management best practices and deliverables that ensure a focus on preparing for and managing successful change.

The change part of the PCMO understands the holistic impact in more detail and is more connected to business users. They can provide appropriate representation at key project stage gates and ensure there is adequate attention on business readiness, not just solution readiness. Decisions and conversations across the business are underpinned by key change management activities and deliverables including: change strategy, business impact assessment, end user engagement plans, sponsor roadmaps, communications, and change measurement surveys and associated corrections.

PCMOs typically have a project management lead and change management lead working closely together with project managers, project teams, change managers and business stakeholders. The conflict point between project and change usually comes when delivery to the triple constraints meets the business being ready, able and willing to accept the change. It is a balancing act, leadership support is essential, and the PCMO works to ensure that the best approach is taken that maximises overall success for the organisation (not just the project).

I recently worked with a client within the PCMO for a large transformation programme and witnessed first-hand the value that it brings. Under pressure to deliver on time and to budget a solution was proposed by the project team that met the requirement, but involved a number of steps and was far from elegant. Within the PCMO meeting, and understanding the impact and existing perceptions about the project, the change manager was able to insist that the user experience was prioritised, despite it resulting in extra cost, pressure on the project timeline and additional work for the project team. The outcome was a far simpler process and this has resulted in happy, engaged users who are proactive in using the new solution.  I am certain, judging by previous experience, that if there had not been an integrated PCMO the original solution would have been selected and adoption and overall perception of the project would have been severely hampered.

 So why aren’t more organisations adopting this PCMO approach?

For some organisations even a PMO is seen as a luxury, so integrating a change management office is perceived as one cost/overhead too many.

In my experience, though, the investment in PCMO does pay its own way by reducing cost and schedule overruns, improving speed of adoption (ROI), embedding the right behaviours, and ensuring that you manage resistance to change early so you can adapt and intervene.

As mentioned earlier, change and adaption is the new norm, so whilst a focus on project management will help manage the portfolio and support efficiency delivery, without change being integral to the process there is a real risk that businesses are not going to capitalise on opportunities or deal with challenges if they are not considering their main asset – the workforce. This is not to say that project management as a discipline hasn’t come a long way in improving its focus on benefits and managing change, however more needs to be done to ensure that change management and people are at the heart of the conversation. Ultimately, it will help ensure that organisations are able to deal with regular change and ensure that they always make change stick.

At Afiniti, we regularly advise our clients on setting up PMOs / PCMOs, so if you are thinking about taking this next step for your organisation get in touch and we would be happy to discuss this further. Likewise, if you have any examples you would like to share around integrating change management within a PMO it would be great to hear from you too.

 

We frequently post our thoughts, ideas and tips on: change management, learning and communications, PPM, employee engagement and culture.

Subscribe here to start receiving a monthly roundup email from our Insights blog.

July Business Change Digest

In this edition:

SPOTLIGHT

Integrating project and change management

AFINITI NEWS

Top 20 Best Performing Learning Provider

AFINITI INSIGHTS

The latest from the Afiniti Insights Blog.

 

 

Spotlight by Stephen Forbes

INTEGRATING PROJECT MANAGEMENT AND CHANGE MANAGEMENT

The Project & Change Management Office (PCMO) – the answer for business in the age of constant disruption?

Change as the new norm

The business landscape looks very different now compared to ten years ago. Continued advances in technology and changing consumer demands are bringing major disruption to the way most sectors and industries operate. In addition, there has been a shift in the workforce with an influx of tech-savvy millennials entering the job market with fresh expectations and often disruptive thinking around how things should work. More than ever, business leaders face a constant challenge to sustain and evolve their business to remain relevant, profitable and ahead of the competition.

Organisations are awash with projects – be it developing or adopting new technologies, upgrading systems and processes, creating new products and services to meet changing customer expectations or just planning for changes in regulations (GDPR and Brexit come to mind). Take a step back from it, you quickly realise that implementing a project and then letting things settle down for a sustained period just doesn’t happen anymore. In other words – change is the new norm.

Considering this, it is no surprise that clients often come to us asking for support in setting up a Project Management Office (PMO). They usually have many competing projects and requirements across their organisation, and recognise the need to have a consistent methodology in place and be in more control of these activities.

This is clearly a positive step for an organisation to take, establishing good project governance and practices is something I know they won’t regret (assuming it is followed through properly). However, there is something else that is often neglected and then regretted further down the line. It is the challenge of not just delivering projects, but the wider piece around ensuring they are effectively adopted, embedded and sustainable within the organisation. Or to put it simply – the integration of project management and change management within the PMO.

 Let’s look at what often happens

PMOs traditionally concentrate on providing governance in order to ensure that projects are  delivered to the triple constraints of time, scope and budget. The focus is predominantly on the condition of the project (scope, time, budget) and to a lesser extent on the people in the organisation, the affect it will have on them and the strategies that need to be in place to ensure effective adoption. In addition, the cumulative people impact of changes across the entire organisation are commonly not considered.

Particularly in larger organisations, and especially with IT projects, it is common for much of the project team to be external and commonly there is limited business representation and meaningful end user interaction. This means that processes (old and new) and the associated impacts aren’t fully understood leading to issues and delays in delivering the project. As a result communications are often late and training / training materials aren’t ready or of sufficient quality. Often businesses are too scared to communicate as key stakeholders don’t have all the answers, but the result is radio silence which leads people to feel in the dark and disengaged from the project.

 The panacea – the integrated Project & Change Management Office (PCMO)

More recently, we are seeing increased success in organisations that choose to implement change management resources and practices within their PMO. The project methodology and governance model are adapted to integrate change management best practices and deliverables that ensure a focus on preparing for and managing successful change.

The change part of the PCMO understands the holistic impact in more detail and is more connected to business users. They can provide appropriate representation at key project stage gates and ensure there is adequate attention on business readiness, not just solution readiness. Decisions and conversations across the business are underpinned by key change management activities and deliverables including: change strategy, business impact assessment, end user engagement plans, sponsor roadmaps, communications, and change measurement surveys and associated corrections.

PCMOs typically have a project management lead and change management lead working closely together with project managers, project teams, change managers and business stakeholders. The conflict point between project and change usually comes when delivery to the triple constraints meets the business being ready, able and willing to accept the change. It is a balancing act, leadership support is essential, and the PCMO works to ensure that the best approach is taken that maximises overall success for the organisation (not just the project).

I recently worked with a client within the PCMO for a large transformation programme and witnessed first-hand the value that it brings. Under pressure to deliver on time and to budget a solution was proposed by the project team that met the requirement, but involved a number of steps and was far from elegant. Within the PCMO meeting, and understanding the impact and existing perceptions about the project, the change manager was able to insist that the user experience was prioritised, despite it resulting in extra cost, pressure on the project timeline and additional work for the project team. The outcome was a far simpler process and this has resulted in happy, engaged users who are proactive in using the new solution.  I am certain, judging by previous experience, that if there had not been an integrated PCMO the original solution would have been selected and adoption and overall perception of the project would have been severely hampered.

 So why aren’t more organisations adopting this PCMO approach?

For some organisations even a PMO is seen as a luxury, so integrating a change management office is perceived as one cost/overhead too many.

In my experience, though, the investment in PCMO does pay its own way by reducing cost and schedule overruns, improving speed of adoption (ROI), embedding the right behaviours, and ensuring that you manage resistance to change early so you can adapt and intervene.

As mentioned earlier, change and adaption is the new norm, so whilst a focus on project management will help manage the portfolio and support efficiency delivery, without change being integral to the process there is a real risk that businesses are not going to capitalise on opportunities or deal with challenges if they are not considering their main asset – the workforce. This is not to say that project management as a discipline hasn’t come a long way in improving its focus on benefits and managing change, however more needs to be done to ensure that change management and people are at the heart of the conversation. Ultimately, it will help ensure that organisations are able to deal with regular change and ensure that they always make change stick.

At Afiniti, we regularly advise our clients on setting up PMOs / PCMOs, so if you are thinking about taking this next step for your organisation get in touch and we would be happy to discuss this further. Likewise, if you have any examples you would like to share around integrating change management within a PMO it would be great to hear from you too.

Afiniti News

The Learning and Performance Institute recently launched their Top 20 Best Performing Learning Providers eBook and we’re very proud to announce that Afiniti have been ranked within the Top 20!

Read the full article

The latest from Afiniti insights blog

 

change journey

 

Change management tips – building the user journey

 

storytelling for business change

 

The importance of storytelling for business change

 

birds

 

Culture Change Series #2: What is organisational culture, and why does it matter?

 

birds

 

Culture Change Series #3: How do you go about changing organisational culture?

 

 

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Culture Change Series #3: How do you go about changing organisational culture?

In previous blogs in our Culture Series we’ve looked at five reasons why organisations should pay more attention to culture during change initiatives, and a ‘four lever’ model by which we can understand and work with culture – suggesting that this may be a more useful approach than seeking a precise definition of organisational culture. In this blog we’ll highlight five lessons we’ve learned about how you can work with these levers to effect a change in culture. You’ll find that reading the previous blogs in the series will help you make sense of this one.

1. Work with your core values

First, really understand and then work with the existing core values. That sounds pretty obvious, but we’ve seen businesses trip themselves up on this. It’s not about previously published values, rather the real nature of the organisation, which is often not explicit.
For example, leaders may seek to drive cultural change towards greater agility through an emphasis on empowered individual decision making. We’ve seen this fail, however, because the existing values, working implicitly, favoured highly consensual behaviours. Ignoring this, rather than working with it (perhaps by focusing on ways of reaching consensus more rapidly and on breaking deadlock), was almost certainly bound to fail. So, be intentional about understanding the core values that are at play, unspoken, in the organisation.

2. Culture should be part of your corporate strategy

Next, while ignoring culture makes no sense (to us anyway), we find that treating it as an end in itself rarely works either. Cultural change initiatives seem to work best when culture strategy is understood as integral to broader corporate strategy, rather than something to be addressed in isolation.
In two different organisations recently, we’ve seen worthy culture change initiatives run into the sand because they weren’t sufficiently integrated into a broader strategic change purpose. Make sure everybody knows not just what culture change you’re seeking, but why that matters – link that to the organisation’s purpose too.

3. Accept that it’s going to take some time

Third, remember that cultures very, very rarely change overnight. It might be that business needs are exceptionally pressing, but that doesn’t mean that desired new values, artefacts and behaviours can be established in a matter of months. Nietzsche coined the phrase ‘a long obedience in the same direction’ – and that’s what’s needed for effective, embedded culture change that’s real. So, plan culture change interventions over two years and more; think about different and evolving themes and campaigns, so that the four levers are given space to support each other over extended periods.

4. Culture change needs to be tackled top-down, bottom-up and middle-out

Fourth, be creative, drawing on all levels of the organisation. We’ve seen the power and enormous impact when front-line peers are harnessed across a range of media – certainly more than top down pronouncements alone. Where appropriate, gamifying progress in behaviours and artefacts can drive a virtuous circle of ideas and changes. Be bold: courageous leaders and leadership teams, visibly calling themselves out and highlighting their own behavioural change will have real impact – especially when aligned changes in artefacts accompany this. Quick wins can often flow from this.

5. Keep it all joined up

Don’t expect that if you do a wonderful values campaign and ignore behaviours anything much will change. Don’t think that modelling different behaviours will shift the culture as a whole if artefacts such as recognition systems and process remain the same. And, realise that if you change artefacts without describing the values that you’re looking to embody, then all that you’ll do is confuse people. Work with all four levers, together, creatively, over time.

 

Clearly, changing culture is challenging. We’d love to hear how you react to these five principles – and what other lessons you’d highlight. Let us know!

 

We frequently post our thoughts, ideas and tips on: change management, learning and communications, PMO/CMO, employee engagement and culture.

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Culture Change Series #2: What is organisational culture, and why does it matter?

In the previous blog in this series we highlighted five reasons why organisations should pay more attention to culture in change initiatives.  But what do we actually mean by culture – or, perhaps more usefully, how can we think about culture in a way that lets us address it?

So, culture – what is it?

Frankly, we’ve yet to come across a definition we really like.  Some just plainly don’t seem to work: for example, ‘the set of processes in an organization that affects the total motivation of its people’.  Are there some processes that don’t affect motivation one way or the other?  Is culture really reducible to processes – so that identical processes would drive identical cultures in different organisations?  We don’t think so.

Other definitions seem to get closer: ‘Culture is the organization’s immune system’ and ‘Culture is how organizations ‘do things’’ say Michael Watkins and Robbie Katanga respectively.  The idea of toxic organisational culture as an auto-immune disease is attractive, but cultural immunologies and immunologists seem few and far between.  And, what are the metrics for ‘how’ organisations ‘do things’: does that actually come down to fine levels of ‘what’ organisations do, in any case?

The quest for a definition that satisfies ultimately seems misguided. At Afiniti we agree that culture is something to do with the ‘feel’ of an organisation, underpinning the motivations of its people and ultimately the performance of the business. We concluded that it was more important to know how to ‘shift’ a particular culture than to be able to define organisational culture per se.  We looked around for models, and in Edgar Schien’s work, and in its application by other organisations, we found something that resonated and offered real potential as an actionable framework.

In summary, we’re working with a framework of four interacting levers:

Afiniti 4 levers of organisational culture

  • Core values: these are the mostly unconscious, taken-for-granted beliefs and assumptions at the heart of the organisation’s culture.
  • Promoted values: in contrast, these are the values an organisation claims to hold or temporarily promotes, but which have not yet truly become a part of its culture. We think of these as descriptions of how the organisation wants to be.
  • Artefacts: these are what we can observe – including organisational structures, processes and systems, office layout, dress codes, status symbols, rewards and recognition. As such, artefacts make a culture tangible.
  • Behaviours: these are not as visible as artefacts, but nevertheless are observable. As ‘the way we do things around here’, they both demonstrate and re-inforce an organisation’s culture.  When modelled by leaders and other influencers they can establish new norms.

 

The little things leaders do have far more impact than the big things they say.

 

The four ‘levers’ need to work together

Core values can develop and change slowly over time, but if promoted values are in serious conflict with them, a culture change initiative will almost certainly run into the sand.  If values are promoted in isolation of artefacts and behaviours they will become ‘shelfware’.  Changes to artefacts or behaviours with no aligned and explanatory promoted values can seem random and will confuse.  And if visible behaviours (especially leadership behaviours at all levels) don’t change to align with promoted values, then nobody will take the intended change seriously.  One of our mantras is that the little things leaders do have far more impact than the big things they say.

The advice we give to our clients is that to shift a culture means working with all four levers: recognising core values, and integrating activity involving the other three.

The final blog in this series will unpack some of the ‘how’ of working with the levers. 

As ever, we’d love to hear from you with your thoughts and experiences around the topics covered here, so send us a comment or an email – we’re always ready to talk ‘business change’!

 

We frequently post our thoughts, ideas and tips on: change management, learning and communications, PMO/CMO, employee engagement and culture.

Subscribe here to start receiving a monthly roundup email from our Insights blog.

The importance of storytelling for business change

With continual change becoming the new norm for modern business, the chances are, no matter what industry or sector you work in, that you’ve experienced work-based change first-hand at least once during your career.

Most of us are able to recount our experiences of being involved in change to varying degrees, and we most certainly have our opinions on whether we feel we really understood the ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’.
Let’s be honest, business case language can be fairly dry and statistics can be pretty dull on their own – they aren’t compelling to the majority of the workforce and certainly don’t convey a meaningful story. But, all too often, we hear of organisations who haven’t adequately considered their change story, what it means to the organisation outside of the boardroom, and how they are going to ensure that all areas of their workforce really understand it and get behind it. I’m sure that most of you reading this have experienced business change where you were left thinking ‘why are we doing this, and what does this mean for me?’

So what’s the importance of the change story?

We know that people are much more likely to get on-board with organisational change if they feel they understand the ‘why?’ This includes the reason for change, and for changing right now, what the change looks like, and most importantly – what it means for them.
This means taking the business case as a starting point and turning it into a meaningful, honest narrative which speaks to everyone.

As change and communication experts, we know that you won’t find the whole story in the boardroom. You need to build up a rounded picture, and this could involve desk research (engagement surveys, for example), benchmarking surveys, focus groups and one-to-one interviews with people from the affected teams.

There are a number of ways to extract the narrative and co-create the story with people, building on the business case

  • Find out how things work at the moment – how does ‘stuff’ get done and do people think it generally works well? If there’s a consensus that it doesn’t– why is that?
  • Explain why things are changing and ask how and why the old ways of working can be improved.
  • Explain what will happen if the business doesn’t change.
  • Ask how people think they can go about changing – what do they need to commit to, where will they need support and are there any ‘quick wins’ which can help to get things moving forward.

Read our blog post on Storytelling techniques

Weaving the story into communications and engagement

After the story is uncovered there are a range of options to bring information, like statistics, the business case and details of technology-change to life.

The one-pager

The communications framework is your one-page summary of the story. It will contain facts but also the key messages, the language, and learnings from the engagement and discovery work. Once you have this narrative recorded, your subsequent communications can carry the story and bring it to life.

Smart visual identity

a key part of telling the story is how it looks. A consistent visual identity will complement your core messaging and bring the story to life. This is your opportunity to create something visually compelling which provokes interest and curiosity and helps to bind your communications.

Characters

These give depth to a story and if you use names, department and showcase actual roles, people identify with them and trust the story more.

Using visuals

Infographics are helpful in visually showing statistics in a way that tell a story which involves data, in clear, simple terms.

Build the story as you go along

Building upon the story throughout the change ensures that it stays relevant and helps to keep people connected to it. A great example of this is helping people to create videos of their experiences – it means they get involved in telling the story and owning it. We’ve seen some great outputs from people working on the front line whether on rigs, on the rail or at local offices, and the result works well to unite people working in different places with similar experiences.

 

I Hope you found this useful.  Please get in touch if you’d like to discuss any of the tactics listed here, or share your ideas.

 

We frequently post our thoughts, ideas and tips on: change management, learning and communications, PPM, employee engagement and culture.

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Change management tips – building the user journey

You may have heard the term ‘change journey’ before.  This describes the phase that an organisation will go through in making complex organisational, process and behavioural change.

Why describe this as a journey?

Whatever happens within the organisation – technical changes, new operating models, new systems and ways of working, it’s unlikely to be a straightforward move from A to B.  Many things will occur during the timeframe that will affect the transition, meaning the pace of change and resistance to it will vary – and things can be pretty unpredictable.

So why not apply the same principle to the people experiencing the change?  For employees to successfully change the way they work, they need to be supported in many ways.  This could involve classroom or online learning, support from managers or peers, regular communications or opportunities to share ideas.  Whatever these tactics are, they will need to be many and varied to be successful, and they should be staggered over time; designed to continually engage without being overpowering.

People going through change are essentially going on a voyage of discovery, and to help them navigate it there are a number of principles that you can apply to ensure they reach the desired outcomes.

1. Set foundations

Clarify the need for change, and be open and honest about it.  This may involve sharing bad news or information which might make people feel uncomfortable about the present state of the nation, but this will help them come to terms about the need to do something differently.  This is best coming from the leaders of the organisation – seeing them being open and transparent about change can really help get them onboard.

The outcome here is a universal, company-wide understanding of the rationale for change.

2. Create a ‘pull’

Develop a curiosity among your employees.  Show them what the change might mean for them – and do it creatively.  Try animations or video to bring the new way of working to life, and enhance this with roadshows so people can share their thoughts, concerns or ideas.

The outcome here is that people become interested and want to know more.

3. Develop capability

Understand the skills that people will need to thrive.  Drip feed it through the organisation using innovative new ways of sharing information – theory is great, but bring it to life using real life scenarios.  Think about a variety of media such as animation, infographics, live presentations and role plays – it doesn’t always have to be elearning alone.

The outcome is that people are aware of what they need to do differently.

4. Reinforce learning

Be proactive in developing methods to support people’s learning experience.  A ‘one and done’ approach often doesn’t work.  They’ll need opportunities to interact with and ask questions of colleagues, leaders and those further ahead on their change journey.  This might include a team of people to support colleagues through transitionary stages with subject matter expertise.  People need to know they are being supported rather than left to their own devices.

The outcome is that people are not only aware of what they need to do differently, but have had the chance to demonstrate some of the new skills or behaviours and talk about it with colleagues.

5. Sustain for the future – reward

The change project will eventually come to a close, and that can often mean an end to the tactics and support referred to in this blog.  It doesn’t have to be though – work with team leaders to identify ways in which the required skills and behaviours are not only still mandated, but recognised and rewarded.  Team leaders hold the key and you will need to make it easy for them to continue to champion the change and make it part of the way they naturally operate.

 

Hope you find this useful.  Please get in touch if you’d like to discuss any of the tactics listed here, or share your ideas.

 

We frequently post our thoughts, ideas and tips on: change management, learning and communications, PPM, employee engagement and culture.

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Afiniti Profile: Nick Smith, Business Change Director

With over 30 years’ consulting and industry experience under his belt, there’s much to learn from Nick Smith, Business Change Director at Afiniti, so we sat down for a chat and I asked Nick some questions about his career to date.

How did you get into consulting?

“I got into consulting in 1985 – a very long time ago! Before consulting I worked for a major IT supplier in a pretty focused role. I felt I wanted a role which would stretch me in areas that I really enjoyed, such as problem solving and solution building, and consultancy gave me the opportunity to do just that.

“I’ve worked in a range of different consulting settings over the years, from the ‘Big Four’ to smaller niche firms, and I’ve been a Business Change Director with Afiniti for five years now. I’ve also had breaks from consulting where I’ve gone back to industry, as I believe that part of being a good consultant comes from experience of working on the other side – spending time experiencing first-hand the operational and strategic challenges and opportunities that our clients face.”

Which project most stands out to you and why?

“My first major consulting project, around 30 years ago was with an IT vendor looking to transform their sales and marketing approach from being product-based to a more consultative way of working.

“The Marketing lead chose not to target his spend on promotion, but recognised the importance of investing in the people aspect of change. As such, we planned and delivered three-day change workshops to over 300 marketing and sales professionals. Now this was a really innovative way of thinking back then, and it taught me a really important lesson: to truly embed change and make it stick, you need to take people on the change journey – to merely change the systems and processes really isn’t enough.

“Another important lesson I learned from this project was around collaboration and client centricity. The client engaged not just my organisation, but another two consultancies also. I found that the ability to collaborate and keep the client at the heart varied widely among the firms. What stood out for me as we collaborated was that being generous-spirited and open to working in different and / or new ways always yielded the best outcome not only for the client, but the consultancies too.”

What other important lessons have you learned over the years?

“I’m also persuaded that a client who stretches you in terms of your capability and who wants to learn with you, rather than looking to be dependent on you or constantly finding fault, is going to get a better outcome. And, on the flip side, any consultant who feels they need their client to be less smart than they are, or to completely depend on them is going to find themselves in trouble – you’re not going to innovate, grow together and form a true partnership that way.”

What do you see as the main challenges and opportunities for business in the coming years, and why is change management so important to these?

“For those of us working in business change and change management, culture becomes very important and equipping people to be ‘able’ to change and adapt becomes vital too.”

“I’d highlight a couple of factors in play at the moment which could impact across industries and sectors. First we’ve got Brexit creating great uncertainty, and second we’ve got a lot of people retiring and exiting the workforce with millennials coming in to take their place. Millennials have different expectations of the workplace, and the implicit contract between them and their employers will be much more fluid.

“If you put these together, then it’s really important to understand that what matters for organisations isn’t necessarily ‘what’ people are doing but ‘how’ they are able to do it. So a workforce that is able to reskill rapidly, displaying versatility and flexibility in order to respond to new situations seems to me to be more important than being good at any one thing. So, equipping people for change is absolutely fundamental. For those of us working in business change and change management, culture becomes very important and equipping people to be ‘able’ to change and adapt becomes vital too.”

What do you most enjoy about what you do?

“It’s certainly the client work that I enjoy most – seeing the client execute and deliver, and realise their business outcomes, knowing that we made a significant contribution to doing that – that’s what I find most exciting.”

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick delve into Nick’s career, if you’d like to learn more about Nick’s, and indeed Afiniti’s approach and experience of business change, then do get in touch!

 

We frequently post ideas and tips on: change management, learning and communications, PPM, employee engagement and culture.

Subscribe here to start receiving a monthly roundup email from our blog and our Quarterly Business Change Digest, written by the change experts at Afiniti.

 

February Business Change Digest

In this edition:

SPOTLIGHT

What is organisational culture, and why does it matter?

AFINITI NEWS

We’ve been ranked among the UK’s leading management consultants by the FT.

AFINITI CULTURE CHANGE SPRING EVENT

Following the success of our autumn event we’re re-running our culture change event in April.

AFINITI INSIGHTS

The latest from the Afiniti Insights Blog.

 

Spotlight by Nick Smith

What is organisational Culture, and why does it matter? The second in our three-part blog series on culture change.

In the previous blog in this series we highlighted five reasons why organisations should pay more attention to culture in change initiatives.  But what do we actually mean by culture – or, perhaps more usefully, how can we think about culture in a way that lets us address it?

So, culture – what is it?

Frankly, we’ve yet to come across a definition we really like.  Some just plainly don’t seem to work: for example, ‘the set of processes in an organization that affects the total motivation of its people’.  Are there some processes that don’t affect motivation one way or the other?  Is culture really reducible to processes – so that identical processes would drive identical cultures in different organisations?  We don’t think so.

Other definitions seem to get closer: ‘Culture is the organization’s immune system’ and ‘Culture is how organizations ‘do things’’ say Michael Watkins and Robbie Katanga respectively.  The idea of toxic organisational culture as an auto-immune disease is attractive, but cultural immunologies and immunologists seem few and far between.  And, what are the metrics for ‘how’ organisations ‘do things’: does that actually come down to fine levels of ‘what’ organisations do, in any case?

The quest for a definition that satisfies ultimately seems misguided. At Afiniti we agree that culture is something to do with the ‘feel’ of an organisation, underpinning the motivations of its people and ultimately the performance of the business. We concluded that it was more important to know how to ‘shift’ a particular culture than to be able to define organisational culture per se.  We looked around for models, and in Edgar Schien’s work, and in its application by other organisations, we found something that resonated and offered real potential as an actionable framework.

In summary, we’re working with a framework of four interacting levers:

Afiniti 4 levers of organisational culture

  • Core values: these are the mostly unconscious, taken-for-granted beliefs and assumptions at the heart of the organisation’s culture.
  • Promoted values: in contrast, these are the values an organisation claims to hold or temporarily promotes, but which have not yet truly become a part of its culture. We think of these as descriptions of how the organisation wants to be.
  • Artefacts: these are what we can observe – including organisational structures, processes and systems, office layout, dress codes, status symbols, rewards and recognition. As such, artefacts make a culture tangible.
  • Behaviours: these are not as visible as artefacts, but nevertheless are observable. As ‘the way we do things around here’, they both demonstrate and re-inforce an organisation’s culture.  When modelled by leaders and other influencers they can establish new norms.

 

The little things leaders do have far more impact than the big things they say.

 

The four ‘levers’ need to work together

Core values can develop and change slowly over time, but if promoted values are in serious conflict with them, a culture change initiative will almost certainly run into the sand.  If values are promoted in isolation of artefacts and behaviours they will become ‘shelfware’.  Changes to artefacts or behaviours with no aligned and explanatory promoted values can seem random and will confuse.  And if visible behaviours (especially leadership behaviours at all levels) don’t change to align with promoted values, then nobody will take the intended change seriously.  One of our mantras is that the little things leaders do have far more impact than the big things they say.

The advice we give to our clients is that to shift a culture means working with all four levers: recognising core values, and integrating activity involving the other three.

The final blog in this series will unpack some of the ‘how’ of working with the levers. 

As ever, we’d love to hear from you with your thoughts and experiences around the topics covered here, so send us a comment or an email – we’re always ready to talk ‘business change’!

 

Afiniti News

In the recent, inaugural, UK’s Leading Management Consultants 2018 report, published by Statista in partnership with the Financial Times, Afiniti has been ranked among the best in the UK.

Read the full article

 

Afiniti Culture Change Spring Event

Following the success of our culture change event  which we held last November in London, we’ll be re-running the event on Thursday 26 April.

The event, Does Culture Matter? And, do our organisational cultures enable or constrain business success? will explore and debate these critical questions in a forum where delegates can share their own experiences with like minded professionals while deepening their understanding of how to develop the culture their organisations want and need.

To register your interest for the event and for more information please click here

 

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Afiniti ranked among the UK’s Leading Management Consultants 2018

In the recent, inaugural, UK’s Leading Management Consultants 2018 report, published by Statista in partnership with the Financial Times, Afiniti has been ranked among the best in the UK.

With over 8,000 management consultancy firms in the UK, competition in the industry is fierce. Our ranking within this exclusive list of just 187 organisations puts us in the top 3% of management consultants in the UK. This is a huge achievement and testament to how Afiniti colleagues strive tirelessly to put our clients first and keep people at the heart of everything we do.

Recommendation from clients

The ranking was based on two elements, an expert survey of staff from management consultancies and a client survey of senior executives who have previously worked with consultancies – with clients able to recommend consultancies for particular services.  Afiniti was recommended for the work we’ve done within the Organisation and Change sector.

Find out more

If you’d like to find out more about how Afiniti helps clients plan, execute and embed sustainable change and how we can help you with your change programmes, send us a message and we’ll get straight back to you.

 

We frequently post ideas and tips on: change management, learning and communications, PPM, employee engagement and culture.

Subscribe here to start receiving a monthly roundup email from our blog and our Quarterly Business Change Digest, written by the change experts at Afiniti.

Change management to help you win the battle against Shadow IT

Shadow IT has plagued IT teams for a while now and employees won’t stop using multiple apps any time soon.

Despite this, change management can help to mitigate and identify risks and help with introducing new technology.

It’s our experience that many companies are actually in the dark about how many apps their staff are using and therefore where the security risks lie. There’s also no real way of stopping employees seeking solutions of their own. After all, they are now working remotely from different devices, so using a variety of apps like Google apps presents a quick solution. Read more