21/12/2011

By Chris Matchan, Visiting Executive Fellow at Henley Business School

Having seen some of Britain’s best examples of Transformational Change, at the inaugural Transformational Change of the Year Award, Co-Chair of Judging Chris Matchan was invited to present the key observations that may help other organisations embarking on change initiatives:

1. Cost is not just cost – it’s a) how you take it out and b) how you reconfigure the culture at the same time as taking it out.

2. Change doesn’t work at just an organisational level – it has to work at a personal level. The idea of DIFM (Do it For Me) was raised during the day – an immensely powerful idea. How does change help me, make me better, help me to be less stressed etc?

3. Change is still about trust. Just driving change at a process level never works – it is nearly always about getting a human being to change their behaviours. However, we still need to be 'just ruthless enough' to deal with those that get it and those that don’t.

4. There is a massive difference between transformation and just getting better. The latter matters (and can still be seriously hard to do) but it’s not radical change.

5. Be very careful and thoughtful about any KPI’s you use and any balanced scorecard. Beware of the law of unintended consequence in pursuit of a perfect KPI process. Change can be planned but in this sense it is also emergent and often defies measurement.

6. Don’t forget to say thank you along the way. The really good organisations today made it clear that they spot people doing things well and say well done – particularly during large scale cultural change.

7. You will need to be brave and uncompromising. One of our finalists purposely made sure 85% of their people managers left the business because they were the wrong fit with the aspirational culture they were trying to build. You cannot do it with the wrong people.

8. You cannot blink. The best companies were resilient and stayed the course. There is a lag effect to transformational change and it doesn’t feed to the bottom line immediately.

9. Values played a part in every presentation. You have to stay true to your core values and then figure out how far your emotional landscape can stretch outside of this before you prostitute those values. As soon as you do the latter the change process starts to fail.

10. It’s stunningly difficult for entrepreneurial SME’s; they reach a certain point and then need real bravery to take the next radical step, which is typically about balancing freedom with process and measurement systems. The same people usually cannot do both and the really good companies today were brave enough to realise this.

11. Transform for impact, not for its own sake. What is the impact you are trying to create with everything you do?


If you have achieved transformational change, find out if it’s worthy of national recognition in 2012 by submitting an entry for the Transformational Change of the Year Award. Find out more at www.nationalbusinessawards.co.uk


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