All posts by Jessica Nyandamu

Technology Investments are Missing from Your IT Strategy

Strategic planning enables an organization to determine how its vision and objectives will be met through its resources and capabilities. Ultimately, the goal of strategic planning and road mapping is to determine how the business will win, what capabilities are needed and how the leadership will prioritize initiatives and make technology investments.

Look for these 3 warning signs that your IT strategy is lacking technology investments for future success:

1. You are not seeing your IT strategy as a competitive advantage.

Your IT strategy is no longer just a tool for back office operations, it is a key enabler to your business growth strategy and core to creating your competitive advantage. With today’s environment of rapid and exponential change, a well-defined, business-owned, adaptive strategy is what will enable your organization to stay ahead of disruption and win in the market. Many companies are struggling to balance emerging technologies, their technology investments, and rapidly changing business needs meaning systems such as ERP, CRM, etc. must be flexible and agile to support increasingly dynamic requirements as digital business models evolve.

2. You don’t understand the impact emerging technology investments can have on your immediate future.

There is a tsunami coming in advanced technology and innovation for business in the next few years. Emerging technologies like Internet of Things/Edge, Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, 5G, microservice, micro satellites, robotics and automation, and many others are simultaneously maturing into practical applications. While their individual impact on business operations is hard to measure, what is clear is that their convergence will accelerate change and disruption at levels yet unseen. If you are not adapting your infrastructure strategies to prepare for this rapid change you are already behind.

3. Your leadership does not have the skills necessary to take on the digital future.

Leaders of technology now have to be strategic business thinkers. They have to demonstrate the ability to integrate Information and Technology (I&T) operating models from IT-centric to business-centric and define core I&T capabilities to execute to business strategy. They must be able to anticipate how key technological trends will translate into business opportunity and success. For example: Does your Information and Technology investments strategy consider the business capabilities offered by artificial intelligence? AI opens up a new frontier for digital business because virtually every application or service incorporates intelligence to automate or augment application processes and human activities. If your plans are not incorporating this type of thinking, if your leaders are not anticipating change, or if your leaders are not identifying business opportunities; you may want to consider skilling up your team.

 

Your digital transformation begins with a digital strategy and technology roadmap. Here are some resources to help you start on your journey:

The Evolution of Digital Transformation and the CIO
Your Digital Future Begins Now
Requirements for a Successful Digital Transformation Strategy

 

A digital transformation is a long and complex journey – one you shouldn’t start alone because it is fraught with hazards that can detour your business or bring it to a halt. At MSS, we work with our customers to develop a digital transformation strategy based on their unique needs. The strategy will include a shared vision and a leadership roadmap to give them a competitive advantage, prepare for emerging technologies, and recognize the skills needed to be ready for the digital future.

October 2020 Insights

Virtual Roundtable: AZ Transformation Leader of the Year Finalists.

What does it take to be an effective transformation leader? Follow the discussion on how these executives are leading their organizations through significant transformation and what being a transformational leader is like during a time of uncertainty.

Watch the Roundtable 


MSSBTA Ranked a Top Company to Work For AZ

MSSBTA surveys its employees and holds weekly forums and luncheons to solicit feedback, drive collaboration, and communicate updates about key initiatives and topics that are of interest to employees.

We did it! MSSBTA is proud to be ranked #32 on azcentral Top Company to Work for in Arizona 2020! We recognize our dedicated team who have helped drive successful business outcomes for clients since 1986.

Learn more


Charting the Course for Successful Digital Transformation

sticky notes on corkboard

Embarking on a new digital transformation journey can often feel like setting out on rough seas in a leaking rowboat. Learn how to confidently embark on your Digital Transformation journey today.

Learn More


Business and Technology Transformation Lifecycle Stages

steps in transformation lifecycle

 

Download this free infographic to learn about the 7 stages of a Business and Technology Transformation Lifecycle that are critical to project success!

Free Download


MSS Business Transformation Advisory is committed to helping organizations thrive

during uncertain economic times. Contact us directly at Advisory@mssbta.com

or 602-387-2100 to learn more.


MSS Business Transformation Advisory: Accelerating Big Change through Leadership, Governance, and Accountability

Embracing Uncertainty: The VUCA Principle

 

Embracing Uncertainty: The VUCA Principle

 

By David William Lee, Contributing Writer

 

The world has become VUCA.

After the Cold War, the US Military came to something of a revelation. Without a clear power counterbalance from the USSR, the world became a much more challenging place. Suddenly, they were in a situation without a single, clear, predictable enemy but many potential adversaries who were unknown, remote, loosely organized, and hard to detect with diverse, indeterminable motivations. The new challenges ranged from global terrorist organizations to warlords and pirates in Africa to sudden geopolitical shifts such as Arab Spring. The term created for this new reality was VUCA:

  • Volatile: The rate of change is accelerating and exponentially impactful
  • Uncertain: We cannot know everything and must be prepared for anything
  • Complex: Multiple forces influence decisions and make implications precarious
  • Ambiguous: The context, cause, and meaning of events are unclear.

While the VUCA principle was generally understood in the early 1990’s, the transformation to the new reality was, unfortunately, measured. It was more comfortable to find a new great adversary, such as China, so that the focus would again be clear. Then, 9/11 illuminated the situation and transformation accelerated.

Accepting the new reality was a significant event because it enabled the military leaders to think differently about how they work in every way.  It changed everything from the command structure to the leadership methods to the field training to the types of people they recruited. The intelligence process, the communications structure, the technology infrastructure, and the weapons they built were all based on this new reality.

The business world today is where the military was in 2001, on the verge of transformation but slow to realize it. Some leaders have fully accepted it while others are still struggling to understand it. But, this change in mindset is an absolutely necessary first step to creating a Complexity Lens.

Question: Can an executive in New York manage the quality of a marketing campaign halfway around the world in Malaysia?

Perhaps, but add to that 20 other markets, hundreds of clients utilizing multiple product lines, and customer service centers in South Africa, India, and Manila; then pile on macro-environmental issues like war and disease, regulatory requirements at the national and city level, cultural adaptations, language barriers, etc. and the situation quickly becomes… VUCA.

Many businesses started accepting the new reality during the financial shock of 2008-2013. But that was just one of the most serious shocks showing the interdependency and complexity of global economics. Think of the number of global disruptions (or Black Swan Events) that have occurred, for better or worse, in the last two decades: The Asian Financial Crisis (1998), the Internet Boom/Bust (1996-2000), September 11 (2001), Afghanistan and Iraq (2001-ongoing), Argentina Economic Crisis (2001-2004), SARS (2003), The Rise of Social Media & Big Data (2003-present), Bird Flu (2005), Price of Oil increase (2004-2008), Russian Financial Crisis (2008-2009), the Greek Debt Crisis (2009-present), Arab Spring (2010-2012?), Argentina Debt Crisis (2014), Ukraine/Crimea War (2013-present), Ebola (2013 to present), Oil Price Fall off (2014 -present), the Chinese Stock Market Crash, Brexit (2016 – present), the US Presidential Election and aftermath (2016 – present).

These are just a few of the events that affected global economics. Can we imagine the list of events at the regional, local, organizational or individual level that affected the outcomes for any single organization? Is it time to acknowledge that your organization exists in a VUCA world as well?

Yes, it is a very difficult change to make. One key reason is that the people in charge have not been trained to think this way. Whenever I mention the complexity challenge to CXO’s, VP’s and Directors, inevitably they acknowledge the problem and immediately start boasting about how they are reducing complexity and gaining greater control. Rarely does it go beyond this point.

At the core of this belief system is that everything tends toward entropy over time. It is a Newtonian law that has been hammered into our heads. It means that, in organizations, we must keep control to stave off and reverse this process. This is the basis of Fredick Taylors Scientific Management, a staple of management thinking for over a century. But our understanding of the law is often incomplete. What we now know is that the tendency toward entropy, toward disruption, is what allows complex organizations to adapt and grow, reorder, self-organize and thrive.

The tendency of management is to do just that, manage. This typically means attempting to eliminate uncertainty, manage outcomes, and ultimately show that they are in control. This may be an adequate approach in a simple organization with singular objectives, but as complexity builds, systems become non-linear and decision making multi-dimensional. The process of trying to maintain full control proves insurmountable, expensive, and potentially fatal because it can prevent the necessary disruption of the current order.

Getting over the hump and embracing this new reality will allow leaders to begin to see the solutions differently. It provides a new perspective. One can see the solutions to the complexity issue, not only in removing complexity, but in embracing it, managing it, and building systems to accommodate it and adapt to it. Moreover, it allows the organization the opportunity to evolve, to become stronger, attack and improve on weaknesses. Viewing the organization with this perspective and making the necessary strategic transformation is what we refer to as the Complexity Lens.

“Abandon the urge to simplify everything, to look for formulas and easy answers, and to begin to think multi-dimensionality, to glory in the mystery and paradoxes of life, not to be dismayed by the multitude of causes and consequences that are inherent in each experience –to appreciate the fact that life is complex.”– M Scott Peck

 

Is Your Enterprise Level Change Building a Building or Planning a City?

Enterprise Level Change,  David Lee, Change Management Expert and Contributing Writer

Change Management Maturity

In a previous article, we discussed enterprise level change management required for a company to achieve true transformation. Just as a reminder, the mutually inclusive elements include:

  • Employing an Enterprise Level Change Strategy
  • Developing Your Change Management Framework
  • Enhancing Your Change Leadership Capabilities
  • Growing Organizational Competency for Change

Thinking in terms of these key elements, we can see how organizations mature their change management competency from immature or nonexistent through institutionalizing change management, to making it a strategic advantage of the company.

This progression is not necessarily linear. In fact, many companies start off quite capable of responsive change, able to adapt and adjust to their environments; then as they begin to pivot and add process and procedures, they become siloed and less agile. Ironically, as the companies mature, their change management competency becomes less mature. Then at some point, hopefully without the aid of a disruptive crisis, they may realize their position and begin the long road back to responsiveness.

When it comes to enterprise level change, most companies we encounter in our digital transformation practice are somewhere between “Isolated Application” and instituting “Project Level.” Few have the self-awareness to understand the need for change management at all much less a greater level of maturity. The reasons for this lack of foresight has been discussed in other places, so let’s chalk it up to inexperience and/or ignorance of the rate of failure and consequences.

The difference between project level and enterprise level change

The difference between Project Level and Enterprise level change management is the difference between building a building and developing an entire city complete with transportation systems, electrical grids, emergency response systems, etc. It is the scale and interconnectedness of the functions that require greater planning and sophisticated execution.

So, if we say Enterprise level change is required for successful digital transformation and most companies are well below that, the question becomes, how can an organization get there and how fast? Well, before we can answer that question, there are a few other questions to answer first:

  1. What is the scale of the organization? Before making any decisions, we must set out to understand the scale of company that is changing. Are we talking about hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands of employees that are going to be impacted? How many divisions, process, functions are involved? The greater the complexities, the more difficult it is to advance. At the same time, the more necessary it becomes.
  2. What is the level of expected disruption? Connected to #1, what is the level of the disruption that digital transformation will bring? As we have established, the disruptive impact is not very predictable, but some will be greater than others. If it starts out as a major change, then it is likely to have more unintended consequences. The greater the complexity, the harder it is to be successful.
  3. What is the leadership’s attitude toward change management? It’s common knowledge that leadership involvement is key to successful change, but does leadership really see the importance of it on an organizational level? Enterprise Level change management requires C-Level attention on a daily basis. Companies at Project Level are often stuck because leaders only believe change management is needed on large, key initiatives. At the same time, companies that have not gone through the Project Level phase often cannot see the need in a broader context. Without full backing of top leadership, companies can rarely achieve higher-level phases of change management.
  4. What investment are they prepared to make? We have seen large enterprise companies driving 20 to 40 changes in their organization feel that they are making an investment by hiring a single change manager who reports to a mid-level executive. Let’s be clear, at this level, there can be no impact from that change manager. Likely this person is simply administering a process without actually impacting the outcome. To achieve Enterprise Level change successfully, the investment needs to scale to the impact. Often this means executive level attention with some serious investment in infrastructure.
  5. How independent are your advisors? On the other hand, we have also seen companies throw money, resource, and time into training dozens and even hundreds to be change management “practitioners” often at the advice of the certification providers. If your advisors (internal or external) facilitate this expenditure, it is time to consider their competency. This kind of investment can be a massive waste that we have rarely seen actually improve the organizational change performance. Yes, training people in a base method is important to success but handing out certificates like hamburgers at McDonald’s is not the answer. Rather, start with a strategy for scaling to your need beginning first with leadership and then selecting a few key resources to develop expertise, become coaches, build centers of excellence. You will save a lot of money and have a bigger impact.
  6. What tools and measures are in place? Managing a change portfolio can be an intensive effort. As with any major function in a company there are tools and measures that help monitor the effectiveness of the program. Any company that is still at Project Level or below is unlikely to have developed these tools or measures. Still, if the company has had a PMO or other similar programs, they may have the underlying capabilities.

Is your organization ready for enterprise level change?

Reaching the Enterprise Level of maturity depends on a number of variables. Organizations that embrace it and strive for it realize that they are building a business model for a much more successful future, one that enables them to learn and adapt faster to changing environments, and one that can even enable more engaged employees. By achieving Enterprise Level companies will see benefits such as:

  • A consistent and unified change management approach across the entire company
  • Faster time to execute on projects
  • Common tools, templates, and resources for driving organizational change
  • Building organizational fitness by reducing change saturation and fatigue
  • A serious step toward creating a real, sustainable competitive advantage

Taking change management maturity seriously is the first step. Having a focus will pay dividends in protecting your investment in the technology. Not focusing on it, statistically, almost guarantees you will pay the price in the long run.

 

Improve your organization’s performance and change management practices.

 

 

Change Management Strategy for Today’s New Normal

 

 

Change Management, John Wieser, MSS Senior Consulting Manager, April 2020

 

COVID-19 has disrupted nearly every aspect of business-as-usual, with one notable exception: your people continue to be the most vital factor in the success of your business. As you continue to transition and support your organization to a more remote work environment, you need to keep in mind that this is a significant change for them and their work dynamic, even if their roles on paper don’t change. As a leader in your organization, you should address this change appropriately with a structured change management strategy and approach.

Have a Change Management Strategy

This does not have to be anything formal (though kudos if it is!), but you and your leadership team should at least have a conceptual understanding and go through the exercise of developing a light version of a Change Management Strategy for your workforce. This strategy should try to address the following questions:

  • Who is being impacted? – Be sure to address both your internal team AND your external stakeholders (contractors, suppliers, customers, etc.)
  • How are they being impacted? – Recognize that different stakeholder groups may be impacted in different ways and in varying degrees
  • What specific changes are your teams and stakeholders being asked to do due to the changes?
  • (And here’s the important one…) Why are these changes going into place? – This should include what benefits will come out of this. As an example, if you’re holding daily Skype video chats with the team, the “why” would include to ensure that camaraderie and momentum isn’t potentially lost through less personal modes of communication like emails and phone calls, exclusively

A lot of this may seem like common sense, but going through the exercise of establishing this Change Management Strategy is as critical now as it would be for any massive project or implementation. First, it helps to ensure that every stakeholder group is accounted for – no one is left without clear instructions on what they’re expected to do. Secondly, it forces you, as a leader, to take a moment to develop greater empathy for what is being asked of your team and partners. This is a critical moment for establishing your team dynamic and setting the tone for your organization – not only during a pandemic, but also for setting the stage for a successful return to “normalcy” (whatever that may look like).

Download our FREE 5-Step Checklist for Change Management During COVID-19

Don’t Forget About External Partners!

Yes, this was already mentioned, but make sure that you do not forget about your partners that are external to the organization. You would be forgiven if your attention has been spent on keeping your internal team operational during this turbulence, but your external partners can be just as critical to the long-term success of your organization. Maintaining proactive communications and expectations with your contractors, suppliers, customers, and other external partners must be a big consideration for your continuity plan – remember, they are in the midst of drastic changes in their organizations, as well, so if you want to maintain your supply chain, sales pipeline, and other critical components of your operations, this is your opportunity to provide leadership to your partners.

Reinforce Change Management At All Levels

Communicating expectations, critical updates, and words of encouragement are all critical pieces of transitioning your workforce to the “new normal” for the foreseeable future. This, however, is just the beginning – as a leader in your organization, it is important to reinforce these communications with actions. Publicly recognize those that quickly and effectively jump into the remote workplace. Be sure that if your policy is to use video chat as much as possible that you’re not relying on phone calls and emails (and please do everyone a favor by remembering whether your video and microphone are on).

When the social distancing measures have subsided and the world returns closer to “normal”, your teams and external partners may not remember each of the emails that you wrote or the meetings that you held. They will, however, remember how you engaged with them during this time of uncertainty and disruption. Appropriately recognizing and addressing the impact this is having on your stakeholders by developing your Change Management strategy will go a long way in establishing yourself as a leader that stepped up to the plate when you were needed most.

Contact a Change Management expert today at Advisory@mssbta.com or 602-387-2100 to discuss a change or transformation initiative.

 

Surviving the Transformation Death Zone

By David William Lee, Change Management Expert and Contributing Writer

I have always been fascinated by the sport of mountain climbing. Recently, I was watching a movie on climbing Mt. Everest in which they described the Death Zone – the region above 26,000 feet where a climber’s body starts to die. They had my attention.

At 8,000 meters (26k ft.) and above, the atmospheric pressure is about a third of what it is at sea level. As a result, the body gets significantly less oxygen and the cells in the body literally begin to die leading to extreme lethargy and poor decisions. The effect of this process is that it takes most climbers up to 12 hours to walk 1.7 kilometers (1.07mi) to the summit. Many of the climbers who meet their end in the Death Zone simply sit down to take a rest.

If you’re thinking that perhaps one can summit more quickly, understand that a person taken directly from sea level to the top of Mt. Everest would die within 2-3 minutes; hence the establishment and requirement of base camps. The mind and body require periodic respites to both recover and reassess the readiness to move on to the next stage of the climb.

Add to this the other dangers of climbing at this altitude such as high winds, sudden changes in weather, altitude sickness, extreme cold, avalanches and falling ice towers the size of skyscrapers, and we can see the danger of taking on this challenge.

Over 50% of climber deaths occur in the Death Zone.

While it is not clear how many bodies are on Mt. Everest, it is estimated to be over 200. They are there forever so those who set out always have in their peripheral vision the reminder of those who did not make it.

According to many professional climbers, I talked to, the primary reasons someone does not survive the Death Zone include:

  • Improper physical preparation;
  • Poor psychological preparation;
  • A lack of proper climbing skills or knowledge of the mountain; or
  • Improper acclimatization

In other words, many of the deaths that occur on the mountain are preventable with the right preparation. But, inevitability, there are those climbers who fail to assess their readiness and manage their climb.

As part of an organization that focuses on Business Transformation, I draw many lessons from this example.

Business Transformation is one of the hardest things that a leader can do in their career. Whether it is a strategic change, a major operational upgrade, a company reorganization, or all three simultaneously; many leaders will have to take on such a business transformation at least once in their careers. What they may not realize is that there is a Death Zone in this type of effort as well.

Surviving the Death Zone in Business Transformation occurs during a period after the transformation has begun. Issues start to arise, fatigue starts to set in and people are frustrated. It’s when even you, as a CEO or CIO or COO, believe it has become “too hard”, and you question why you set out on this journey in the first place. Your employees are complaining, there are too many people to retrain, or you fear the business transformation can affect client relationships and open the door for competitors. Perhaps, it will take too long and cause too much attrition, it requires a large investment that raises the risk. It’s just too complicated to get through.

Surviving the business transformational Death Zone means getting through this period, showing perseverance and ensuring that people remember that this effort will reap rewards in the longer term.

How can you successfully survive the Death Zone during your Business Transformation? Some key steps include:

  • Prepare for the Journey
    • Have you planned for every stage of the organizational transformation?
    • Is your organization aligned with the new operational model?
    • Have you identified the new business processes and the job-specific changes that your staff will need to embrace?
    • Have you identified the capabilities that your staff will need to perform in the future state?
    • Do you have the subject matter experts selected and prepared for the transition?
  • Build Your Knowledge to Survive Transformation
    • Are the business drivers and the need for change clearly understood by all those who will be impacted?
    • Are your people trained and ready?
    • Are you meeting your transformation stage goals?
  • Get Fit
    • Does the organization have the stamina for the transition?
    • Do you have active and engaged team members driving the change?
    • Are the capabilities of your staff at the level needed to perform in the future state?
    • Is fatigue setting in? If so, what can be done to re-energize the team?
  • Assess Your Progress
    • Is the pace of the business transformation doable?
    • Have you established and stopped at the necessary checkpoints?
    • Are corrective actions needed to bring you back on track?
  • Find the Right Guide (“Sherpa”) to Survive Transformation
    • Do you have the necessary support to help guide you through your organizational transformation?
    • Are there skills needed that you don’t have the time or resources to supply?
    • Does your guide know the way? Has he been there and back?
    • Are company cultural sensitivities being taken into consideration?

Business transformation failures are preventable. As an executive who is responsible for the success of your company and its transformation objectives, don’t ignore the Death Zone. It exists and the risks are high. No matter how clear the vision, how impressive the business case, the path to success will be long and full of challenges. Preparation, knowledge, fitness, progress assessment and guidance will each play an important part to reach your own transformational summit, survive transformation, and embrace a new normalcy thereafter.

 

Planning Your Transformation Journey

By Alyssa Moniuszko, MSSBTA Director of Operations

A few summers ago, my family and I went on a backpacking trip in the Olympic National Forest in Washington state.  The trip started as a potential idea, then we did a large amount of research to determine the most interesting trails to hike, and we mapped out a path.  We created a packing list and determined what backpacking and camping gear we already owned and what we needed to buy or rent.  We planned our route and the distance we would travel each day, so we could plan where we would stay.  As the trip grew closer, we had to change direction and find another location to hike, due to weather and a problem with bears becoming too comfortable around humans.  We had two objectives for our trip: have a great time as a family and hike two days along the Hoh River trail and then head back out for the remaining two days.  This ensured we were able to stop and camp at specific locations along the way.  Because we planned ahead it paid off and we had an awesome family vacation.

Planning, including planning for a business transformation, does not guarantee success. An example of failed transformation is the American automobile manufacturer.  They were unable to distinguish their brand during a highly competitive environment against foreign car companies who forced cost and fuel efficiency battles.  Their transformation methodology focused on cutting costs but resulted in brand confusion.

In summary, enterprise transformation is no longer only about changing or improving offerings. Delivering new offerings is only one level of change. Balancing offerings to adapt to market perceptions and economic/market changes is a more important strategic imperative.

Similarly, when your company embarks on a major transformation journey, you will want to plan for the ultimate change that will take place, and the impact to the employees.  The steps are very similar:

  • Decide to begin a transformation journey
  • Plan the steps to complete the transformation journey
  • Ensure you have the right tools to succeed & plan for contingencies
  • Bring the employees along on the transformation journey so they will want to be a part of the ultimate accomplishment

Decide to begin a Transformation Journey

Similar to the decision to embark on a family adventure, your company may be contemplating a transformation. What drives change? Your organization may be facing competition, a need to comply with regulations, customers who demand a more efficient/effective user experience, or several other motivations to initiate a transformation in your organizational processes: both internal, and/or external. When making this decision, there are several factors to consider to ensure success, and it is best to take a structured approach when attempting something of this magnitude.

Plan the steps to complete the Transformation Journey

Comparable to the preparation of our backpacking journey, you must plan for an organizational transformation journey. Prior to planning the steps to complete transformation, you need to set objectives. It is critical to understand your organization’s objectives, define the milestones, and recognize when you have achieved these objectives. This phase is key to reinforcing and sustaining the transformation itself. You need to determine the outcome you are trying to achieve. If you don’t know where you are going, you can get into trouble. Similarly, during our trip, if we didn’t follow the map and reach our daily destinations, we would not have had a place to setup camp. There is a difference between hike lasting a few days in Washington State, and climbing Mount Everest. If want to see a more extreme example of how a Mount Everest summit journey compares to business transformation, please see a related article Surviving the Business Transformation Death Zone.

Once you have set your objectives, you need to plan the steps to meet them. To do this, you will need to anticipate the upcoming change, facilitate the steps needed to complete the change, and create an ‘agenda for action’ (per Samuel Bacharach, Professor, School of Industrial Labor Relations, Cornell University (McKelvey-Grant Professor in the department of Organizational Behavior at Cornell University’s ILR School)).

When creating the agenda, determine the path you want to take, like mapping out the trail in our family backpacking adventure. Determine the changes, priorities and path to transformation. As part of that plan, you need to become aware of your organization landscape, and if there are any potential roadblocks or resistance throughout the organization. It is helpful to provide communication throughout the process so people at all levels of the organization feel they are a part of the change, and understand their associated role.

When planning your journey to transformation, you will need to include steps for all levels of the organization. It is important to consider the impact on your peers, at the executive level, as well as your strategic vision. You and your executive peer group are a key part of the plan, driving the change from the top, down. In addition, you will need to be aware of the effect the change will have on the mid-level and low-level personnel in your organization. Based on this, your plan should include tactical and functional aspects, so people in those roles in the company, feel included and see the value of the change.

Ensure you have the right tools to succeed & plan for contingencies

As you need to ensure you have the appropriate items in your packing list and know the route you will follow on an outdoor expedition, you need to plan for this transition, including potential options in case the path diverges from the original idea. Once you have developed your agenda and plan of action, you want to be sure you have the correct tools to lead this transformation. Plan for your desired route from the current to future state, but ensure you have included contingencies for opposition, and how to gain the trust and acceptance of those who may not be initially on board with the changes. Survey your organization to determine if there is any potential resistance to the transformation. Based on the results, plan for these potential roadblocks along the way.

Prosci® conducted a survey in 2015, to determine the most prevalent reasons for resistance to change by employees. They include:

  • Lack of Awareness
  • Change-specific Resistance – additional work anticipated, lack of incentives, etc.
  • Change Saturation – too many changes at once and past failures
  • Fear – fear of losing their job, and fear of the unknown
  • Lack of Support from management or leadership

Develop a communication and resistance plan at the beginning of the project, and constantly revisit that plan to adjust it as needed. Become acutely aware of your surroundings to develop a first-hand view of how people are reacting to the changes, as the project progresses. This way you will be able to identify and address any resistance as it arises.

Plan to bring the employees along on the Transformation Journey

As we researched and planned for our trip, we found pictures of the beautiful landscape we would be exploring along the way. This helped to pique our interest and build our enthusiasm for the adventure. In this same manner, to improve your chances for success, you will need to get your team excited about the transformation and its benefits. Shaul Oreg (associate professor of organizational behavior at the School of Business Administration of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, currently on Sabbatical at Cornell University) has done a lot of research on dispositional resistance to change. He has determined people react differently to change based on their personality. Some people are more comfortable with routines, and others shy away from the daily habits. They may also react favorably or unfavorably, based on their comfort level. Per Shaul, “Another aspect is about people’s cognitive rigidity or a form of stubbornness…explains why some people are more resistant to change than others.” These characteristics of dispositional resistance to change determine if people will be receptive or oppositional to change. It is critical to keep this in mind when embarking on a change initiative.

Once people realize you are considering the impact of the change on them, and you work to inform them, give them the tools to succeed, and address their concerns in different ways, they should be more willing to actively participate in the change activities.

With all our pre-planning for our backpacking trip, we were prepared for all types of weather, and had a great time in beautiful surroundings, growing closer as a family. Similarly, when you are planning the steps to complete a transformation in your organization, you should use a similar plan of action. It is important to keep in mind same approach we used when planning our family trip:

  • Plan the steps to complete the transformation journey
  • Ensure you have the right tools to succeed & plan for contingencies
  • Plan to bring the employees along on the transformation journey so they will want to be a part of the ultimate accomplishment

If you follow these guidelines, you will increase your chances of success and reduce the chances of being another failed statistic.