According to the Word Economic Forum ” We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before”
The Fourth industrial revolution represents technology, artificial intelligence, automation, robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing and cognitive computing. The speed of current breakthroughs has no historical precedent in the world. Moreover, it is disrupting almost every industry, market, every country, governments and our lives.
In order to maintain competitive in the marketplace, organizations need to assess capabilities, strategy, culture, skills to drive innovation and technology to meet customer needs. To start the transformation journey a change management would be necessary to align the organization and design the right intervention to deliver new products and services.
To be more specific let’s use a business case:
Plastico is a manufacturing organization that has been differentiating themselves from local competitors due to its technology and service capabilities. The company is based out of Canada with 10 production facilities employing over 1,500 employees with an average tenure of 15 years. Plastico has been experiencing sustainable growth (sales growth from $10 million to nearly $200 million in 10 years) gaining its investor’s trust and created customer loyalty due to its ability to innovate products and customer connectivity.
They still maintain a traditional structure and currently its manufacturing plants are not integrated, therefore its ability to create synergies and to streamline processes across plants is limited due to its silos production design. Furthermore, globalization and digital transformation created an intense competition from their Asia Pacific competitors.
However, the company has fought to maintain and survive on its 1/3 share of the declining market. The CEO decided to change the company strategy and extend into international markets. In this business context, what should be the change strategy? How should they face the change? How would leaders engage the organization to reduce resistance and communicate the corporate changes?
Harvard Business Review published an interesting article on how “Smart Leaders Focus on Execution First and Strategy Second”. However, not necessarily in the case described above execution is the next step to implement strategy. A change management process would be key first to engage and align the organization in this transformational venture. HR plays a critical role to be the connector and relationship builder to make sure the change plan is executed properly to be successful. Furthermore, HR would assist business leaders to assess change readiness across the organization to create actions plans.
There are different methodologies out there, but I would suggest following these 5 steps to implement a successful organizational change:
Setting the direction of the change management plan is critical to provide support to business strategy. At this stage is important to establish the outcomes of the change based on the business context. In other words, set the need for change across the organization; explaining the situation, complicated factors, and consequences if we do not execute the change strategy plan. In this stage is also important to set the change agenda, gain commitment to the change goals and prevent distraction in the different levels of management.
At this stage, the leadership team with HR support are responsible to assess change readiness levels across the organization related to people, structure, technology, and processes. A stakeholder map assessment is the foundation of this step to identify the key change interventions and have a detailed assessment on how the organization would behave due to the change. Furthermore, business leaders and/or the project team responsible to manage and monitor stakeholder expectations as well as identify key allies in the change journey.
As soon as we have the results of the stakeholder map assessment (this process can be done with a global, regional and/or local scope), the implementation team need to translate those organizational needs in order to identify process/ jobs/skills/structure/technology requirements to create the right change interventions plans. Furthermore, the outcome of this stage is to provide end-users with critical knowledge, skills, processes and tools to enable them to succeed in the new business environment. For example, a specific delivery of this stage is to have a validated required competency by job type or role and align with performance management, training, development, and rewards.
Execution is the king in any type of project, the planning and analysis stages allowed us to have a clear roadmap for the implementation. At this stage, the project team has to communicate roles, responsibilities, and outcomes of each stage of the implementation. Organizational leaders with credibility have already been identified and trained to reduce resistance to change and make teams to row to the same direction. Project change teams and country leads are responsible to represent the behaviors that the organization is trying to implement in this process transformation. Managers are also responsible to make people safe, take ownership and reduce stress and tension when outcomes are experimenting some delay in the implementation phase. Furthermore, business leaders are accountable to provide support to the project change team to identify the resistors of change and work with them to gain their trust.
5. Engage & Reward:
In my experience, this is one of the most important phases in change management. CEO and C-Suite are responsible to fully motivate and engage their employees in the process. HR needs to partner with business leaders to create the right HR interventions (ie recognitions system, team rewards, new performance appraisal approach, organizational design) to support the new behaviors that the change strategy is seeking. In addition, the communication planning is another factor to make sure we communicate with the organization project status and team accomplishments. Finally, communication and engagement vehicles are defined for each designated interaction point between stakeholder groups (ie: executive steering committee, project leadership teams, project team members, region, country leads and employee groups).