Businesses struggling to meet their performance objectives understand that significant organisational changes must be made. However, the time investment required to make changes that have an impact on the bottom line can often be too great a risk.
Organisational change can take time. Raising the question, how do businesses make sustainable step changes when quick results are needed?
There are five major elements of our approach, tailored to the particular circumstances of our clients which we apply to drive rapid change.
1. Agile approach
The widely recognized Agile project management process is the one we adopt when working on fast-moving change projects. Employing this approach is more conducive to quick change because of its iterative nature. An initial solution can be put in place relatively quickly and improved and refined as the business responds to it.
Using Agile methodology means we implement, learn and adapt quickly, responding to real-time data gathered in the business’ real-world context.
It is a light-touch framework that suits our client/user-centric mentality. It works because our end goal is to create a best-fit, long-lasting solution rather than to simply fulfil a plan we set out during our initial conversations with a client.
2. Limit the number of stakeholders and decision-makers
It goes without saying that during periods of change not everyone will be involved in every decision. The quicker change needs to happen, the more efficient and focused the decision-making group needs to be.
If employees are invested in the change you’re making, people will want to help shape the change, contributing their issues and ideas. However, spending 20% of your time solving the issues that impact 3% isn’t constructive. Being clear about roles within decision-making groups is vital to set expectations and plan for success.
As Eliza Berman, former project manager in New York City government, says…
“…ultimately, it’s better to please the majority by delivering results quickly and effectively than to disappoint everyone because you’ve drowned in the details.” (Source: Forbes)
3. Get everyone on board
It’s estimated that 70% of change programmes fail to achieve their goals, in large part due to employee resistance (Source: Forbes).
Whilst every employee cannot be involved in making every decision, successful change hinges on getting as much buy-in as possible. This poses a challenge for many businesses.
Once decisions are made and a change plan is established, communicating and motivating everyone in the business is essential. Uncertainty causes resistance, which means a slower rate of change. Securing buy-in isn’t something we sacrifice, regardless of timelines.
Understanding how to motivate people to get behind the change is a big part of what we do. It’s important both for the success of the solution at a corporate decision-making level as well as for the happiness of the employees.
4. Aim for better practice, not best practice
Over the years, the consultancy industry has built a solid foundation of knowledge on what works well on change management projects. We deem this ‘industry best practice’. Consultants like us who have a wealth of experience have the added benefit of deep experience in specialist sectors. But best practice is often an ideal or average that not many businesses achieve. Nor should they want to.
In projects that require rapid change, we use best practice methodology as support. Businesses can be similar but they’re never the same.
The best solution combines what works in practice and similar businesses and also what makes your business unique. For example, its organizational structure, business goals or culture and values.
5. Direct and honest communication
On some projects, you have the luxury of taking a considered and sensitive approach to communication. This typically involves mapping touchpoints—cascades, events, Q&As, taster sessions, toolkits, etc.—against the project timeline.
During rapid change management, communication needs to be limited to the must-haves and it must be direct and as honest as possible.
There are many examples where this approach yields positive results. Possibly the most famous is Shell’s response to their 2004 oil reserve crisis which saw their share prices plummet—the problem was only exacerbated by the abrupt departure of the group’s chairman, Sir Philip Watts.
The standardized processes put in place were unpopular but the message from the top was clear: simpler, standard processes across all countries and regions that benefited Shell globally trumped local, individual needs. The change was not a choice, but a mandate (Source: Managers.org).
Of course, Shell subsequently recovered and is now in a healthier position.
Hansaya consulting have 10 years’ experience in rapid change management
Speak to one of our team today on +44 2081 507165 if you want to explore a rapid change strategy. All calls are confidential.