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5 Questions to Ask Before You Initiate Workplace Transformation

By August 11, 2018June 4th, 2019Strategy
5 Questions to Ask Before You Initiate Workplace Transformation

Are We There Yet?

Increasingly, companies are engaged in transformation, if not at an enterprise level, then operationally, within different units and often simultaneously.

Whether it’s a single, large-scale program or a series of smaller initiatives, or even a process of continuous transformation, in all of these instances, change is determined to be the answer.

But has your company asked the right questions?

Because a lot can go wrong with change.

In the latest McKinsey Global Survey, only 26% of respondents said that their organisational transformation initiatives had been successful in improving performance.

Effective workplace change begins with a critical assessment of the value of change for the business.

The answers to five, key, value-based questions will provide your business with a clearer context for change, as well as a more considered and focused approach to make it happen.

Here are five strategic questions to help you assess your company’s change value and change readiness:

1. Why are we doing this, really?

A 2018 study by Accenture has found that “nearly two thirds of large companies globally face high levels of industry disruption.”

For the majority of these companies, change is not an option. But for a company to successfully reorganise itself within a disrupted industry, and in a marketplace filled with new customers, requires that it establish for itself a new sense of purpose.

In simple terms, a company may state its reason for change like this, ‘We’re changing because the market in which we operate is producing a new kind of customer’.

Certainly, this answers the question of why the company is changing. But it fails to answer the all-important question: ‘Why does it matter?’

In answering this question, the company might now say, ‘We’re reorganising, so that we can reward our existing customers, and welcome new customers, with a better way of doing business with us.’

So, ask yourself why your company is changing, but more importantly, ask yourself why it matters. This answer will point to a new sense of organisational purpose, which is where the real value of change lies.

2. What do our customer-facing employees think?

It’s surprising how many organisations operate with senior managers who never interact with customers, personally. It is vital that you engage your customer-facing employees when developing your company’s change purpose. Ask them what your customers are saying; how they experience your company’s product or service; and whether their preferences are changing.

This front-line research can help you to articulate your change purpose for greater relevance and meaning. And don’t stop there. Create a platform for ongoing, internal dialogue about change that has your customers at its core. This will ensure that your change efforts remain focused on customer delight.

3. Have we defined the scope of our change program sufficiently?

It seems obvious but what many organisations fail to do when planning a change program, is to set the program’s scope. Start by defining what needs to change – basically, set the program goals – then determine the boundaries within which you want to achieve them: the timeframe; the budget; the resource allocation; also, the different phases of your program’s implementation.

This kind of framework will help you to define the different activities and tasks within your change program, as well as the roles required of people to perform them.

Setting clearly-defined parameters helps eliminate scope creep. Also, your change management team gains clarity about what falls under the change management function, and what falls outside or beyond it.

At its best, a robust change management framework helps you maintain control and manage risk.

4. Are we measuring up?

A comprehensive measurement plan is a vital tool in any change program. But deciding what to measure, by when and against what, is not a simple exercise.

Your organisation is unique, so it stands to reason that your change metrics should be too.

Defining a unique set of measures will make better sense of your change outcomes. Your measures should be relevant, as much to the purpose of your organisational change, as to the change program itself.

For, at the end of the program, you want to be able to find a genuine answer to the question, ‘Are we doing things differently now?’

5. Should we call an expert?

Organisational transformation is never an easy undertaking. And while you may have tasked a dedicated team to implement your company’s change program, there is one advantage this group of enthusiasts will never have: Objectivity.

In consulting external change management experts, you afford your company the benefit of objective assessment and review.

Also, you gain advice on tailored implementation, measurement and maintenance. This advice will have been gleaned from years of helping to bring about change in organisations, both different and similar to yours. The effect serves a crucial purpose: To bolster your change efforts.

Ready, steady, change.

Yours may be the type of organisation that embraces transformation, and that is even change-fit. Still, for a change program to be effective, the process should not be rushed. Taking the time to assess the value of change at your company, as well as its state of readiness, goes a long way to ensuring a ‘yes’ answer to the question, ‘Was it worth it?’

Felicity Hinton

Felicity Hinton

Felicity Hinton is the founder and chief strategist at Humanist, a culture-change agency that helps transform people for business success. Previously, she worked in human performance solution design, and advertising. She is a certified change manager (UCT), has a Bachelor’s degree in English (Wits), and has won several awards for her business writing, including a Silver Quill.

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