change business

Change to Survive: Learning How to Do So Quickly, May May Be One of the Most Important Powers of Tomorrow’s Successful Companies

In Uncategorized by Roger Lewis

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The ability to quickly retool how we get things done may be one of the most important powers of tomorrow’s successful companies. And shedding our natural reluctance to change could be one of the biggest advantages we’ll attribute to the recent years of global turmoil.

For eons, the process of work has changed constantly, often very slowly from generation to generation. However, new technologies, global competition and evolving customer demands are all driving rapid, even radical, changes in today’s work environment. Not only do we face micro changes in how we do our jobs daily, but society is also adapting how it “thinks” about work, from test runs reducing the typical workweek to riots in France over changing the retirement age.

Clearly, the pandemic was a huge driver of rapid change, including a move to more remote and hybrid worktechnology advances with far-reaching implications, and increased attention on employee well-being. But, despite profound promises to make us more productive, more flexible, more connected and even more fulfilled, innovations also bring new challenges to the workplace.

Managing change is quite difficult to predict, and change usually causes disruptions before delivering results. Comparatively, legacy systems and the status quo can feel safe—it’s what we see clearly, what we know to be true. Unfortunately, this false sense of security can cause managers, companies and even entire industries that fight changes to struggle to attract and retain top talent and ultimately lose market share to more agile competitors.

In this new era of work, I think we’ll need to manage our time even more effectively, streamline important tasks and drop outdated processes. Managers and leaders must find ways to break down traditional silos (both between employees and data systems) so teams can communicate across departments, share important analyses and collaborate more effectively.

Hunting For Efficiencies

1. How could teams be reorganised, and what tools do they need to speed and simplify interdepartment collaboration?

Here, less is more. I’ve found a simpler structure with fewer boundaries is often more nimble and can foster better business decisions. Changes can also improve your customer’s experience and build loyalty. And well-connected teams are typically better suited to meet increasingly complex business challenges like compliance, innovation and resource management.

2. Can AI fix bottlenecks to productivity?

Advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence can often automate tedious and repetitive tasks, improving efficiency. Areas like customer service, data analysis and fraud detection are prime examples. This can free up employees to focus on more strategic work with higher margins and profits. And, it could help keep your workforce more engaged, happy and less likely to leave for another opportunity.

3. Do we need to reconsider our current project management process?

Retooling current processes can help focus teams and improve goal completion. For example, adopting a new methodology like agile, scrum, kanban or design thinking might increase collaboration, streamline workflows and improve productivity.

Actionable Advice For Implementing Workforce Changes

If you have changes in mind and are navigating this dynamic, here are some of my learnings from helping companies adopt new technology and update legacy processes.

1. Start by creating a compelling case for change. Build the needed buy-in from stakeholders, and communicate effectively. Make sure everyone in the company understands the need for change, and what the changes will mean for them.

2. Be transparent and willing to admit openly that unlearning the old process will take work, but smarter ways to get from point A to point B will pay dividends in the end.

3. Create a culture of change where employees are encouraged to break down silo walls and come up with new ideas. Be open to feedback and willing to change your own mind. Involving your end users through the entire process—from evaluating options, road mapping the change and adjusting on the fly—will give them ownership of the change and make them more likely to support it.

4. Accept the risks. Change comes with downsides, but it’s often necessary. Analyse often, learn from experience and revise quickly.

5. Start small, and don’t underestimate the need for ongoing training and support.

6. Celebrate successes. When you make a change that works, be sure to celebrate it. This can help to build momentum and encourage others to embrace change.

7. Be patient and persistent. Change often takes time, but rewards follow.

The End Game

Many will push back to changes, pointing to roadblocks like tight regulations and compliance (as in government and manufacturing), rapid employee turnover and tight margins (such as in food service), or long, complex project cycles with legacy technology (like construction, where my company operates). But with greater demands for efficiency, heightened reporting responsibility, increased competition to keep top talent engaged and more scrutiny over metrics, I think it’s more important than ever for businesses to be adaptable and proactive in order to succeed.

There are considerable risks to shuffling the status quo, and the headwinds are indeed real. Just remember, there is also peril in being the last to evolve.

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