Defining the Business Change Agenda
Achieving the right blend of innovation, transformation and optimisation
First published: October 2011
By Dale Vile
Drivers for change vary by industry but some common motives are seen across the board
The quest for better profitability is the strongest overall driver of change, but is particularly acute in highly competitive and dynamic consumer-facing sectors. Industries making intensive use of physical assets, facilities and labour have a big focus on operational efficiency, and highly regulated organisations confirm ongoing compliance related pressure. Meanwhile, everyone has an eye on cost savings and customer retention.
The nature of change initiatives must be properly matched to business objectives
Change initiatives come in a number of forms, and knowing when to transform or optimise, or whether to innovate or adopt best practice, can be a challenge. Get it wrong and opportunities can be missed or unnecessary time, resource and money spent. The key is to make sure business objectives are always clearly defined so the most appropriate form of change can be selected.
Tactics for success include the smart use of IT, outsourcing, and workforce enablement
When looking at tactics to enable change, the evidence is clear and compelling that IT has a key role to play. High achievers reporting a superior level of process efficiency and alignment are also much more likely to be taking advantage of IT and/or business process outsourcing, which can shortcut the route to efficiency and effectiveness. Those achieving the best results particularly emphasise the role of workforce enablement, and creating an optimum working environment.
Continuous improvement is an important enabler of ongoing performance
However major change initiatives are implemented, there is strong evidence that the continuous improvement approach is one of the most effective ways of ensuring ongoing alignment of business practices with the organisation’s objectives as those objectives, along with markets, technology and best practice, inevitably evolve over time.
Most challenges are concerned with management culture, structure and discipline
Disjoints and conflicts between business units along with problems in the area of process and information ownership are called out as some of the most common impediments to achieving results, reflecting the need for more coherent definition and implementation of an overarching operating model. The biggest difference between high achievers and others, however, is to do with ‘cultural aversion to change’. Turning this on its head, one of the most important findings of this research is that a positive attitude to change is a key enabler of high performance in business.