Transforming an Enterprise – an Effective Approach for Implementing Change

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‘The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order’

Alfred North Whitehead

(b.1861 - d.1947), British mathematician and philosopher.

Throughout the preceding four decades we have experienced change at a consistent and alarmingly unprecedented pace. The technology explosion has given us the ability to live longer, move faster, reach further, generate more wealth for more people, and establish successful businesses that cross political and cultural boundaries. The pace of progress has been so fleeting that we are continually absorbing new technology into our lives.

The technological explosion required businesses to continually change. They tried to increase responsiveness to the changing market conditions, to reduce costs by simplifying operations and by introducing new products or new lines of business. While pursuing these strategies businesses often searched for the ‘silver bullet’ solution; one that would provide a winning formula for quickly solving problems and realizing promised benefits. In searching for the panacea, business leaders often applied isolated concepts like Total Quality Management, Process Re-engineering, Shareholder Value, Customer Centricity, Six Sigma, and other models found in business literature of the time. Although each of these concepts plays an important role, not enough attention was given to integration of these perspectives into one holistic approach.

Throughout the past 30 years of my career, I have witnessed the challenges that organizations face when executing business change from a singular perspective. For example, many Process Re-engineering programs successfully implemented new technology. However, they failed to establish the right measurements to monitor whether any of the expected benefits were realized. Failure to focus on all critical aspects of change consistently leads to missing the ultimate objective of that change initiative.

The problems inherent to the non-integrated change management model demand the rethinking of existing economic models and institutional roles. The current world wide economic crisis has inspired consensus among governments, businesses, and individuals that major changes will have to be implemented in order to return to a healthy, sustainable economy. The current ‘imperative’ is to effectively manage change as an integrated continuum.

Consensus on the need for massive change, however, does not define the method to bring about that change. Even though ‘change is the only constant’, do we as citizens, leaders of enterprises and governments know how to manage the change continuum? Moreover, how can we become effective agents of change?

Based on many years of experience, I firmly believe that successful business transformation depends on the ability to address all of the elements of change as an integrated ‘whole’. Within this premise each specific component must be considered equally and their interdependencies recognized. While balancing all the change elements the desired outcome must drive the actions.

Business Transformation is a change initiative that aligns People, Process and Technology with organizational business strategy and vision in order to achieve measurable benefits.

Business Transformation mandates that all critical elements be adequately detailed and causally related to each other. Each element represents a complex and far reaching discipline that demands an in depth, diversified knowledge, experience, and collaboration of all involved as well as impacted stakeholders. The key elements include:

 

  • Strategic Direction: outlining the goals and objectives to be achieved
  • Business Design: defining required changes in terms of processes (including policies, procedures, practices, business rules) and technologies to achieve strategic goals
  • Change Management: focusing on the required
    • Changes in organizational design and impacted stakeholders’ roles, responsibilities, skills, behaviors and measurements to realize the anticipated benefits of change
    • Timely education and communication programs for impacted stakeholders in order to achieve acceptance of change
  • Change Governance: managing the change continuum to achieve and evolve strategic goals

 

Each of the preceding items must be viewed in the context of its comprehensive life cycle. Furthermore, the interdependencies between these elements across the life cycle continuum need to be defined, monitored, measured, and revised (when required) so that the implementation is fully integrated and is managed as a ‘whole’. The comprehensive life cycle includes these stages:

 

  • Plan - defining activities, deliverables, and integrated milestones
  • Design - defining deliverable content and the role it will play in the integrated solution
  • Build – defining, developing, & configuring each deliverable in terms of processes, custom software, and/or Commercial of the Shelf (COTS) components
  • Test - defining and executing essential activities to verify deliverables’ required capabilities, functionality and quality
  • Rollout - identifying key deliverables and executing critical activities to rollout/implement the expected change
  • Operation - monitoring, and measuring on an ongoing basis to maximize expected benefits, and continually, incrementally change to achieve ongoing improvements.

 

In short, success in implementing change depends on the knowledge and experience of the leadership team and their ability to integrate such areas of expertise as Enterprise Architecture, Project Management, Business Analysis, Information Technology, Business Knowledge, and Change Management. Business transformation leaders must be able to successfully manage multiple disciplines, a diverse pool of specialized workers, as well as conflicting priorities and objectives.The key to successfully implementing change is to blend in an integrative way the technology and business processes while all impacted stakeholders fully embrace and internalize the change.

As Roger Martin, dean of the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto states in his landmark book: The Opposable Mind, “the successful business transformation leaders win through Integrative Thinking”.

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