Changing Ways of Working – Clear & Transparent

This is the second article in our series on the changing ways of working, where we have identified five key factors for successfully embedding change. This article focuses on being clear and transparent. 

A key factor in achieving and sustaining changes to ways of working is being clear about what is being asked and why. This may sound obvious, but how many times have your ways of working been mentioned as an afterthought, and then not been followed up? It saves so much time and effort later, if the desired change is clearly defined, including the honest reasons. Ways of working changes will be far more successful, and far more likely to be sustained if they are presented in a way which tells it as it is. No spin, no euphemisms, no missing stuff out because its uncomfortable. Only plain, straight forward language. 

In the context of coming out of COVID, there will naturally be a lot of uncertainty, so it will be important to be specific about the end goal (the way we want to work), and why (why it’s good for you, and why it’s good for the business). It will be equally important to be honest about the uncertainty in the meantime. Let’s not try and control what we can’t. 

An effective approach for tackling this is developing a clear strategy for your change, which can then be used to create a compelling narrative. This strategy should answer a series of simple questions: 

  • Why are we doing this? (including why it will be good for everybody) 
  • Why is it bad for everybody NOT to do it? 
  • What do we expect to be different as a result?  
  • How will ways of working change specifically? 
  • What do we expect from you? For example, from senior management, from operations, from field-based colleagues? 
  • What is included and what is not included? (in other words, a clear scope statement) 

These questions may sound simple, but of course it will take a little bit of time, and a focussed piece of work to drive out a strategy which has full leadership team alignment.  

Recently, Afiniti worked with a client embarking on a major transformation programme – the biggest that organisation had ever attempted. Arriving just as the Programme was being formed, we were able to help the Steering Group develop a Programme Strategy. From the strategy it was clear that the expectation was a fundamental shift in ways of working away from reactive support activities, towards proactive value adding activities. It was also clear that this would necessitate a significant change in skills, a new operating model, and new roles. And yet, at that point in time, the Programme vehicle which had been established had no resources focused on any of the above. They were 100% committed to selecting an ERP vendor. So, we were able to help the client create a dedicated focus on operating model and business change, and this was where the Steering Group focussed their attention. Without this clarity on the Programme strategy, the organisation would not have been putting the resources and investment into the areas which would achieve the intended outcomes.  

The message is simple, have a clear strategy for the change you are embarking on. Make sure the big important questions are answered. Then use that strategy to guide your transformation activities, investment, and priorities. 

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help your organisation with its business change challenges and opportunities drop us a line and we’ll get straight back to you.

 


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Afiniti Recognised as Top Learning Provider 2020 by LPI

Afiniti is delighted to announce that it has been recognised as one of the top 30 highest-performing learning providers 2020 by the Learning and Performance Institute (LPI).

Established in 1995, the Learning and Performance Institute (LPI) is now a leading authority on workplace Learning & Development. Each year, they work with and evaluate thousands of organisations worldwide through their accreditation service: a consultative framework that focuses on “Performance through Learning” – prioritising outcomes over delivery, homing in on the value, efficacy and business impact of learning, and aligning competencies with organisational strategy and goals. During the accreditation assessment, the LPI evaluates organisational efficacy against a range of key performance indicators. The results of this are then fed into a formula that applies weightings to each KPI to generate numbers representing the best overall providers, and in this case, the top 30.

Corrina Jorgensen, Managing Partner, Afiniti said:

“As a specialist Business Change consultancy based in the UK and operating globally, 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. We strive to align to industry best practice at every opportunity, ensuring our clients receive the highest standard of learning facilitation, and to receive this prestigious recognition is testament to our dedication.”

LPI CEO, Edmund Monk, said of the top 30 providers featured:

“Prospective and existing customers can be assured that these organisations will provide the highest quality of service and the best user experience, even in this difficult time. They are trusted business partners, acting always in the best interests of their clients and, as such, fully endorsed by the Learning and Performance Institute.”

Learning is a key practice area for Afiniti who partner with clients to shape, ready, deliver and embed sustainable change. Earlier this year Afiniti was also 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.

To download the ‘Top 30 Highest-Performing Learning Providers’ report, please click here


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, please get in touch.

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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!


neil finnie

Article by Neil Finnie, Business Change Director 

 


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In this edition:

SPOTLIGHT

Starting a business change programme? Avoid the common pitfall.

AFINITI NEWS

Jay Dixon joins the team as Business Change Director.

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As well as routine project management and IT programmes, IT managers are often tasked with the people elements of change – an implementation can’t be seen as successful if there is no user adoption.

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Effective change networks

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Certainly, we’re rarely involved in an initiative without there being Change Champions or equivalent.  Despite that we still observe behaviours that can trip Champions up, rendering them ineffective.  And it’s not all about recruiting the right people. Read more

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