Analysis vs. Synthesis: Leveraging Local Ingenuity to Drive Global Transformation
It’s no secret that organisational change is difficult, costly and complex. However, what’s less known is that one major reason for this is the need to achieve the right balance between local and global ways of working through analysis and synthesis.
Transformation programmes are usually triggered when performance issues are identified in the centre. However, leaders are responding not to a single problem, but to a complex array of challenges originating at the local level: strong cultural or operational variations between sites; growth through M&A; adversarial working relationships between teams; or a heavily unionised industry sector.
Together these appear as a single issue, impacting the business as a whole.
An Agile approach?
Agile project delivery offers rapid iteration as the solution to ensure all customer needs are met. And while a ‘little and often’ approach to stakeholder engagement is valuable, every part of a complex organisation faces unique challenges when it comes to change, and therefore local teams may derive little benefit from a compromise solution rolled out to everyone.
Afiniti saw this at play when we were engaged to support a major national engineering organisation with their multi-year programme to embed a new approach for local-lens transformation.
Over 40,000 employees faced the challenge of streamlining ways of working. This meant an integrated, connected mindset was imperative for the programme to successfully enhance performance, which was being rolled out against a background of industry reform.
We rapidly equipped their new internal consultancy team with the skills, tools and capability to effectively deliver a compelling, people driven, business focused story about their new holistic approach to transformation.
Synthesis and Analysis
But designing the future state requires leaders to synthesise: to see the business as a whole, and identify the absolute core – for example, the processes and systems where standardisation is a regulatory pre-requisite, or an underpinning element of the organisation’s success in the market.
At the same time, it is critical to analyse: to see the organisation as interconnected pieces and position a local lens to enable national change.
Getting closer to complex problems as change agents demands we employ a skilful approach which empowers teams to identify and solve challenges together. The process needs to build trust so that all perspectives are brought to the table and solutions are both robust and collectively owned.
Starting small and scaling up
Returning to our client example, targeted engagement with a small number of selected teams built the foundations for the programme to demonstrate measurable efficiency benefits.
Doing this ahead of scaling the new transformation approach up to a nationwide rollout helped drive adoption of the methodology across the wider community.
Colleagues were engaged and inspired as local success stories were fed back to the wider audience, demonstrating the sustainability of the new consulting model and underscoring the national commitment to this new global framework for transformation.
We developed a dynamic and holistic visualisation of core competencies, illustrating them graphically for a diverse audience in a highly accessible way. Our supporting toolkit enabled the consulting team to bring the process to life at a local level and share the latest success stories. Additionally, managers were equipped to collect real life data to evidence success for each intervention during their day-to-day line management activities.
One of our core values at Afiniti is ‘people at the heart’. This is not a sentimental statement, rather a belief born from our experience of successfully working with leaders to realise bottom-line business benefits by engaging their people in the right way during transformation.
Our client’s new team of internal consultants helped their colleagues to look beyond individual roles, perceptions and priorities, leveraging local ingenuity to transform operational performance and benefit the end-to-end system.
Data-driven analysis ensured that new ways of working at the local level delivered process and bottom-line efficiencies. Ultimately, we were able to evidence that over 10,000 colleagues had been engaged in a single year, tripling the number of teams using the new approach and delivering 20% increases in individual productivity and over £10m in savings.
Leaders need to be ready to deploy local analysis and global synthesis. Local ingenuity and global consistency are not competing forces. They are approaches to be used in balance to engage people in change and create competitive advantage.
We’d love to talk to you about Afiniti’s model for local and global transformation, and how we can help you achieve your desired change outcomes. Speak to the team today to tell us more about your programme.