At our recent invitation-only round table event, Future proof your organisation with 21st century leadership, we discussed many aspects of the current business environment and the challenge it poses. Some of the key points included:
- No one person has all of the answers. Adaptive and shared leadership is the only sustainable way forward
- Developing a culture which supports enterprise contribution will result in exponentially improved performance
- VUCA environments are a threat, but can become an opportunity if you have the skills and techniques to overcome them
- Creating the right level of attachment in your culture will set every one of your employees free to thrive and perform at their best, which in turn improves organisational performance
- If you’re a leader, change and culture start with you
But if you are leading an organisation which needs to transform, what is the single most important thing for you to do now to future proof your organisation?
A new perspective on the failure of change programmes
The failure of change programmes is usually attributed to poor execution, but based on a four-year study of 62 corporate transformations, an article in the Harvard Business Review, What Everyone Gets Wrong About Change Management, says something different.
The research team cites what might sound like an obvious, but previously overlooked, cause – organisations often pursue the wrong changes. They advocate that, before worrying about how to change, executive teams need to figure out what to change and in particular, what to change first.
What vs how
For decades senior leadership teams have worried about how to undertake change programmes. Various techniques have been in vogue at different points, and many hours have been spent debating one approach versus another at board tables around the world.
But this analysis paralysis took focus away from the most important aspect of change – what exactly is it that needs to be changed? What changes will have the biggest impact on the organisation’s success? And, crucially, what changes will have the biggest benefit to its stakeholders – both its customers and its team?
Understanding your organisation’s answer to what to change first requires a detailed and thoughtful look at a multitude of factors and metrics. An outside perspective is often helpful in uncovering key insight which can guide successful change programmes.
Transformation done poorly can be very painful. All transformation requires some form of disruption, but negative disruption can have disastrous effects on your business. It can, and often does, lead to confusion, wasted energy, time, effort, and money.
However, transformation can also be, well, for lack of a better term, transformational. Done right, it can position your company to take advantage of the challenges it faces, turning what were once challenges into opportunities.
So, what will your next step be? And how do you know it will be the right one?