Transformation – Where Do We Start?

So, you want to transform your business?

Perhaps you have already decided that technology is the key. You have started to establish a Programme and talk to potential suppliers. There is a burning platform. The business will suffer if you don’t do this. Everyone agrees it’s the right thing to do.

But how clear are you on what “it” is?

You will be wasting a lot of money if you don’t have crystal clarity, and full alignment. Key questions are: why? What are the implications of not doing it? What will be different? How will we measure it? And, what are the key changes we expect to see in the organisation?

A few years ago, I was called into a sizeable utility organisation. About to embark on a £200M transformation programme with a known organisation, they were seeking some independent advice. I spent three hours with a group of stakeholders, working through a list of questions. In my opinion, there were a lot of strong foundations in place:

  • It was very clear why the transformation was needed.
  • The scope of the programme was well defined.
  • Roles and responsibilities were mapped out, including the role of the supplier.
  • Stakeholders were engaged, measures were already in place.
  • The narrative had been established, and the outline communication strategy was agreed.

Then I commented that their transformation journey implied significant organisation change. They talked about contact centre colleagues’ roles changing to include a sales element (previously customer support only), and seamless movement between channels.  This implied organisation re-alignment top-down, potentially changes at exec level, and a considerable investment in colleagues’ skills changes which would probably include recruitment as well as development.

When I asked whether this conversation – about the organisation changes required – had happened with the exec team, the response was ‘they wouldn’t like that’.

And yet, these were the core changes required to realise the intended benefits.

My advice to that organisation was not to spend a single penny of their planned £200M until they had a Transformation Strategy written down, developed with the exec team, that included an outline of how the organisation was going to approach the required organisation changes. Otherwise, the chances of realising any of the intended outcomes in return for their investment, was very low. As a wise colleague of mine once set, they would simply end up with a ‘very expensive train set to play with’.

Contrary to behaviours we have all learned, there is no blueprint, playbook, or method, which guarantees you success in transforming your business. Often these constructs are simply ways of “outsourcing” the transformation process – to another team, to a supplier, to a programme vehicle, to a process … or often all the above. Sound familiar?

Successful transformation is about facing into the challenging questions upfront. Tackling transformation head on, is about, guess what … tackling transformation head on. Sounds simple, but it’s often not what happens, and it’s tough to do. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it successfully!

Let’s say you have decided your support functions are no longer fit for purpose for where your organisation is headed. Your processes are sluggish. There is too much bureaucracy, too many people spending too much time on low value rather than high value activities. Things take too long, and there is not much value add. You are convinced that a new ERP system is a significant part of the answer. You have already spoken to suppliers, who not surprisingly, agree with you. A new ERP will provide world class processes “out of the box”, and this will be a catalyst for transforming your support functions.

And yet, an ERP system will address none of the challenges described above. The ERP system is a tool which can support improved ways of working. But, to address your challenges, you need to work out how the organisation needs to change, and the approach to tackling those changes.

Take some truly independent advice. Work with your exec, and your support functions to develop a transformation strategy, which answers the key questions (why, what, what will be different). Include the outcomes you would like to see from the transformation, and workshop how those outcomes could be delivered. Set up a team to begin working on the changes you have identified.

And then, only then, ask the question about the part that technology may have to play.

This way your programme is outcome led. Updates with exec and Steering Groups should lead with progress towards those outcomes. Engage your people fully in the journey, as this will make success far more probable.

In a world where the pace of change is rapidly increasing, and your success will be defined by how fast you can move, you will need to radically rethink your approach to change and transformation. My advice – tackle it head on!


Article by Neil Finnie, Business Change Director 

 


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In It for the Long-Haul – Sustaining Change

One of the hardest parts of successful change is sustaining it beyond delivery. Investing in change should of course mean the whole process of change, through to benefit realisation and beyond. Change initiatives should give people what they need to be able to continue to build on the change after the initiative has finished.

So what can we do throughout a change initiative to give it its best chance of being sustained following delivery?


Listen. It’s tempting to get going and start delivering. We’re all used to working at pace. But every change in every organisation is of course different. Start listening at the beginning. Ask questions. Understand the organisational context. What might work in this particular organisation to make change stick? What’s worked here before, and what hasn’t? Understand the people involved and their experience. Apply lessons from previous initiatives. Adapt and flex as you go. Go beneath the surface.

Build internal capability. Organisations often bring external partners on board to have additional short-term resource to deliver change quickly. But working with external partners is an opportunity to grasp as much of their experience and knowledge as you can to prepare for future change. (Partners not willing to transfer knowledge may not be people you want to work with.) Build in regular opportunities for formal and informal knowledge transfer during delivery. Offer specific internal capability deliverables such as learning sessions and coaching if appropriate. Sit together. Share more. Use collaborative tooling.

Co-create and collaborate. Sustainable change isn’t a ‘done to’ process; it must be ‘done with’. People make change stick. Work together to develop and deliver the change. Expect external partners and senior stakeholders to model the change you desire. Bring in BAU colleagues who understand the culture and ways of working to develop the change. Try and test as you go. Build a toolkit and library of artefacts together for the future. Think ahead, what else might be needed once the change initiative has ended? Identify and deliver creative solutions. Make practical, relevant recommendations. Build trust and deliver with integrity.

Put people first. Organisations are their people. Enabling those people to understand what you’re doing and why you’re doing it will improve your chances of successful change. Change and communication strategies and plans must be developed with employees at the forefront. What’s the art of the possible? How can we do things differently? How can we incentivise people to contribute as we go? How can we have fun and break the routine? How can we help people to work through the change themselves and establish ways of working that are sustainable and achievable long-term? Put in place a proactive plan to reach anyone who hasn’t been reached as part of the main change initiative.

Prepare for handover. Transitioning from change initiative to BAU is more than a library of artefacts, a handover meeting, and a lessons-learned log. It’s a process. Allow time. Plan a transition. Future-proof. Avoid people being isolated once the change initiative has ended. Bigger change initiatives might have a sustainability plan with people tasked with managing the transition. Empower continuing champions networks. Find out what they need. Once the change initiative has ended, keep looking at the lessons learned. Keep identifying case studies to demonstrate success. Celebrate, reward, and celebrate again.


As we all know, it takes a concerted effort to sustain change, change isn’t easy. Plus it’s important to look back to see if the change is being sustained. Fundamentally, why change if it’s not intended to be for the long-haul?

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Afiniti in Financial Times Report on UK’s Leading Management Consultants 2020

For a third year running, Afiniti has been named in the Financial Times special report ‘UK’s Leading Management Consultants 2020’ as one of the best UK management consultancies.

Published today (29 January 2020) by the Financial Times, in partnership with Statista, Afiniti has been listed as one of the top 30 organisations in the UK delivering ‘Organisation and Change’ consultancy to clients. Inclusion in the report is a public acknowledgement of Afiniti’s reputation and profile, with the list based on two surveys; one among peers (partners and executives from consultancies) and one among clients.

Corrina Jorgensen, Managing Partner at Afiniti commented:

“With only 200 consultancies from the longlist of 5000 making it onto the report, we’re enormously proud of our continued ranking within this exclusive group. With an even tougher ranking process this year, this is testament to our genuine, unwavering commitment to making a real difference for our clients, helping them to make change stick.”

The full list, and details of the survey’s methodology, is available on the Financial Times’ website.

If you‘d like to know how Afiniti could benefit change within your company, give us a call on: 08456080104 or email: enquiries@afiniti.co.uk

 

ENDS

 

Media Enquires

George Tresnan

Marketing Manager

George.tresnan@afiniti.co.uk

0845 608 0104

 

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Afiniti Accredited as Gold Standard Learning Provider by LPI

Afiniti has been awarded the status of ‘Gold Accredited Learning Provider’ for the 17th consecutive year, for its commitment to high quality and process improvement in the provision of learning, development and training services to clients.

LPI accreditation is the globally-recognised quality mark for providers of learning products, technologies, services and facilities. During the accreditation assessment, the LPI evaluates organisational efficacy against numerous key performance indicators (KPI’s), scoring each against a reference framework. The process is rigorous, with providers being required to demonstrate a KPI score of 75% or greater across all sections, including client-endorsed case studies and telephone-based references. This year we are especially proud to have received 100% KPI scores for client integrity, corporate integrity and CSR, learning consultancy, self-study content, service/product roadmap, people development and business stability.

As a specialist Business Change consultancy based in the UK and operating globally, we support targeted sectors including rail and transport, oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, logistics, energy and utilities and construction. We take a holistic approach to designing and delivering tailored learning solutions for our clients and we routinely innovative; developing new and exciting ways for people to engage with learning.

Jim Parish, LPI Accreditation Mentor, commented:

“Afiniti’s holistic blend of change management services is part of an integrated approach to the people agenda of change which has one purpose: to focus on client’s people and make change stick. Using a tailored mix of services to suit change projects, Afiniti help accelerate and embed change, driving client business forward to its potential future state. This innovative approach is part of a continuing development of the services offered utilising the best minds and practical approaches to ‘change’ for business benefit.”

Nick Smith, Partner, Afiniti said:

“One of our core values at Afiniti is Act with Integrity, and to this end we appreciate the rigour of the LPI accreditation process as we know it means we are genuinely providing excellent learning and performance solutions to our clients – adding real value – and helping them to make change stick.”

If you’d like to learn more about how Afiniti can help your business design and deliver training and learning, or other aspects of your change management projects and programmes, get in touch and we’ll get straight back to you.

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Digital Transformation – Adoption Pull not Delivery Push?

In the first and second blogs of this series on how Business Change needs to adapt to be effective for digital transformation, we set out an agenda based on the ways in which digital transformation is different, and made a case for treating it as culture change not systems implementation. Both blogs stressed that what Afiniti is about is adopting different ways of working and changed behaviours, not really about getting people to use technology per se.  But what do we mean by adopting; what is it; and how does focusing on adoption inform Business Change activity and planning?  That’s what this blog is about.

We talk about adoption in many different domains.  Adopting a child is both a legal event, but also (I’d suggest) a process of settling into a new pattern of family – for adoptive parent(s) and adopted child(ren). But we also talk about adopting new identities, nationalities and behaviours; we speak of new processes and systems being adopted; and we even refer to individuals and groups adopting things such as fashions, chants / songs, or postures. What can we learn from this? Perhaps it’s that adoption is a journey undertaken as much as a single event,

If one of the things that distinguishes digital transformation from other change journeys is that the use of the tool(s) it provides can be optional (see our first blog), then successful adoption of new ways of working enabled by digital tools is surely a process involving both breadth and depth.  Breadth – what proportion of the group / organisation has taken on new ways of working by using the tool(s); and depth, to what extent (for how much of what they do) have they changed what they do by using the tool(s) – perhaps even how much of the potential for improvement have they unlocked.  And if our goal is the adoption of new ways of working, enabled by the technology, then adoption cannot be anything but a process – and a process that begins with the tools being made available, not one that ends at that point.

What might a process view of adoption, one focused on increasing breadth and depth, mean for Business Change?

First, we’ve found that it means the Business Change activity after a technology ‘go live’ will be at least as important as, Business Change activity before any ‘go live’. And, since programmes tend to come to their end relatively quickly after ‘go live’, this in turn means that much of the most important Business Change activity will not be programme-driven but will have to be delivered as part of business-as-usual. Whilst many organisations are beginning to recognise this need we see few that have successfully risen to the challenge.

Second, if adoption is a process of broadening and deepening, it’s difficult to see how it can be ‘delivered’ – or ‘pushed’ at colleagues within an organisation. Rather, we at Afiniti find, adoption is better encouraged and stimulated by building pull – creating the desire at a grass roots level to seek out new tools and adopt new ways of working. This means creating a programme team and champion networks that are sufficiently in touch with how and where ways of working are changing to spot examples that will be attractive to others in the organisation, and which can therefore be used to build ‘pull’.

We’ll explore in the next blog how perspective persona-based engagement and a strong ‘champion’ network can be re-thought and cascaded to accelerate this pull.

For now, though, how does this square with your experience – does this model of adoption as a process of increasing breadth and depth make sense?

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Sustainability and Business Change

Ah sustainability.

The watchword of business across the globe, plastered across everything from boxes of tea and packets of salmon, to organisational goals statements and marketing materials. But really, the contexts in which this all-too-often used word is placed seems to vary greatly, covering a range of meaning from ecological safeguarding, to fair trading and ethical practices, through to simply meaning that a business will ensure that it survives in the long term.

However, we only have to look at the political discourse in today’s polarising and highly charged media environments to recognise that there is clearly a disconnect between the individuals’ view of what is sustainable and the overarching organisational corporate or governmental view of what is sustainable. In recognising this, we are presented with a challenge from a change perspective.

How do we enact sustainability, when really we don’t actually have a firm grip on what it means!

Triple bottom line theory, or TBL for short highlights these views somewhat, putting across that organisations no longer can simply acknowledge only the fiscal factors pertaining to their survival, but the wider societal and environmental impact practices as well.

This existential ‘triple threat’, is obviously a massive problem to attempt to get a handle on, and is something that many organisations don’t know where to begin. In some ways the ‘fear factor’ alone of what will happen when the implications of calculating the societal or environmental factors are considered weigh large, causing a strategic and operational paralysis that results in these vital changes not taking place at either the scale or speed that is required.

A good example of this is the brave move by Puma to calculate environmental impact as part of its operating model (though it is worth noting they still have not included this in their annual profit-loss statements). Calculating the impact in 2015 as a whopping 145 million Euros per year. As a point of comparison, Puma’s 2018 net earnings were 187 million. Fear factor indeed.

Yet it’s easy to focus on the negative aspects rather than the implicit positives of getting things right. Organisational resilience is at its highest point when all variables are being considered.

Likewise the benefits of having a fully engaged and committed workforce is well understood. Disengagement costs alone potentially cost tens of thousands per disengaged employee, saving these costs in return for an investment in a truly open, meaningful program of work that benefits both employees and the business seems like a good trade to make.

As Ken Blanchard in his book on servant leadership says, look after your people, and they will look after your customers, which will look after your bottom line.

But let’s link in now to the change element. Clearly there’s a big piece to be considered here! Arguably this could be the biggest and most important change that organisations will need to make in this century to avoid the obvious repercussions stemming from social inequality & environmental destruction, but also technological disruptions, new business models and rising geopolitical uncertainty. In order to become truly resilient this needs a new way of viewing things, that requires looking beyond the box of the organisation and into the wider world in which that organisation sits.

So what do businesses need to look at to examine this in more depth?

The BSR (Business & Social Responsibility), a not-for-profit organisation, have an integrated framework that encompasses three main areas. The purpose of this article is not to cover their framework in depth, but at a glance, they are:

ACT – Creation of resilient business strategies, governance and management approaches that ensure the achievement of business goals.

ENABLE – Catalyze systemic progress by building mutually beneficial relationships and collaboration with stakeholders and partners across the entire value chain.

INFLUENCE – Promote policy frameworks that strengthen the relationship between commercial success and the achievement of a just and sustainable world.

These are useful pointers certainly, but this author’s view is that there is actually a wider issue at hand here. That of the inherent capability of the organisation to actually change, ie: their change readiness. This need exists not at a project level or simply a ‘piece’ of the business but a total sea change across all operating areas. The mind boggles at the cost, time and complexity that this change would require!

By this standard, organisations clearly aren’t ‘change ready’ in the majority of instances.

However, to make the impossible difficult, and the difficult manageable, we can break this down using the experiences we already have at our fingertips of what it takes to embed change across an organisation.

Underpinning this are the same change components which are utilised in effective change programs across the globe; people-focused culture shifts, proactive and meaningful communication and dialogue with key stakeholders, the establishment of effective learnings on how things should and could be done, and appropriately deployed technological mechanisms all ensure effective change management takes place not just at a project level but as a program and organisationally aligned initiative.

By looking at things in this way we can begin to gather an inkling of the step changes which can, and indeed must, take place over the coming years. Even small steps, when taken together can make big leaps forward! This is what good change management is about!

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Creating a great change communications strategy

Research and statistics show that communications strategy and planning is still an area that many organisations can make big improvements in. In fact, a 2018 research study and report by Arthur J. Gallagher & Co states that 60% of companies don’t have a long-term communication strategy!

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Decoding Agile terminology

We’ve had a lot of positive interest in our recent blogs focusing on the hot topics of Agile and agile. But we’ve also heard from a number of clients and readers that there’d be real value in demystifying and decoding Agile terminology or jargon. So, here goes!

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The importance of integrated project planning

Originally posted in 2015 and a firm favourite amongst our readers, this article has recently been updated.

 

There are many contributing factors which determine project success, but in large programmes an easily-followed, robustly-integrated planning process is a must.

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Afiniti gain LPI Gold for 15th year

Afiniti have been accredited as a Gold Standard learning provider for the 15th consecutive year by the Learning and Performance Institute (LPI).

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