Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Top One Thing of Organizational Change to Improve the Result

The change principle is: fix the right problems and fix them right.  

Due to the dynamic nature of digitalization, change is inevitable in organizations today. However, how to set priority, can you not just fix the problems right, but more importantly, fix the right problems which matter most. Given the choice - what’s the # 1 thing would you change in an organization that would help improve the business results?

Problem Analysis: The solution to any given problem is ALWAYS in analyzing the problem. One indicator of mismanagement is to fix the symptom, not the root cause, and the other indicator is applying wrong fixes to the assumed problems. Each organization is unique. Actually, it would depend upon an analysis of the organization to determine the true priority change needed. If an organization really needs substantial change, it is because the leadership has not provided the necessary factors of success. So starting with problem analysis does make sense.

Communication Effectiveness: The communication problem is rampant in the business world. The biggest problem created when there is a lack of communication is the lack of trust among workers and management. Communication has to flow via all directions (top-down, bottom-up, inside-out, outside-in, middle-out, cross-functions etc), also through common business language, not the functional dialects, to avoid ‘lost in translation," to build trust for both discovering the root cause of problems and providing solution to tailor the real problems.

Tailored Solutions: Never assume you know what the problem is. Never think there is a short list of solutions you can pick from. And there is no need to look at it in a reactive mode as a ‘problem,’ but it would be desirable to look at it proactively and have a ‘policy.’ A solution should match a problem and with that in mind, the one thing change would be to have a phrase at the heart of everything the organization does. Test every assumption.

Innovation management: Although not every change is innovation, innovation is about the change. Nowadays, due to the frequent digital disruption and accelerating the speed of changes, innovation is not about “nice to have,” but “must have,” and top prioritized management activities. Innovation management has broadened its horizon, from “hard-innovations” such as products,  service and process innovations to the “soft-innovations” such as leadership innovation, creative communication, or culture innovation. Innovation shouldn't be serendipity anymore, but the strategic approach and systematic management effort to delight customers and engage employees,

Capability building: More often, the obstacles to the fix are part of the problem, too. Thus, transparent REFLEXION of cause and effects which need improved business capability and management effectiveness is the key thing you need. And this faces challenges such as cultural inertia and lack of synergy. Although you can’t build key business capability overnight, digital organizations need to make it a continuous effort; and shift from process driven to capability oriented, because the only capability-based strategy is sustainable for seamless execution, also with the ability to adapt to the changes.

The digital transformation could be overwhelming, a sense of urgency is essential. Focus on the top prioritized change effort, celebrating “wins and better results” will help to silence those who are reluctant to embrace changes. Refuse to allow complacency to stop forward action toward the shared vision. Institutionalize these changes into the company’s cultural DNA, its hiring and promotional practices. The change principle is still: Fix the right problems and fix them right.  

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