How are you transforming your business?

By Alex Evans, Editorial Director, National Business Awards

Transformational change as a buzz phrase has migrated from the public to the private sector in the last year or so, and it’s just as relevant to big institutions as it is to small firms, writes Alex Evans, Editorial Director of the National Business Awards.

The dictionary definition of transformational change is an organization-wide shift in business culture resulting from a new strategy and processes to support it. Sounds good in theory, but such an undertaking requires commitment and investment, from the top down, and it’s never taken lightly. In fact, in many cases, it’s undertaken out of necessity — whether its market forces or government cuts.

Lean management, essentially delivering more value to customers with fewer resources, is a core goal of transformational change as organisations strive to achieve better for less; and public services aren’t the only enterprises that have had to absorb deep cuts. Businesses too reliant on one big client have adapted to spread the risk, while others that over-diversified have gone back to basics to better serve loyal customers.

Another driver for transformational change is the move toward more sustainable growth and activity in the public and private sector — to not only meet targets on carbon reduction but to reduce waste in general. This means fundamental changes have to be made in the way business is transacted and services are delivered.

Zeitgeist award

To reflect this cultural change, a new category has been added to the National Business Awards programme to acknowledge the significance of this paradigm shift — the Transformational Change of the Year award. By identifying the most successful projects and strategies to date, large or small, it is hoped that these models for transformational change will inspire organisations across the public and private sector; but what will judges be looking for?

This year’s impressive panel includes Phil Smith, CEO of Cisco UK & Ireland, a thought-leader on transformational change; Jackie Keeley, director of leadership consultancy Harthill, which develops CEOs to manage major change projects — from mergers to organisational restructures; Charles Ward, COO of tech lobbying body Intellect, which disseminates excellence to industry members and government contacts; and Colin Cram, a procurement consultant who pioneered outsourcing policies for central government and saved the public sector £1 billion.

Carefully selected to bring a range of perspectives to the zeitgeist trend of transformational change, these judges will be looking at outcomes, their significance to the wider organisation and even the broader sector. Below are five insights into what judges will be looking for and some key elements to consider when embarking on a transformational change initiative:

Leadership - Change begins with direction, and a new course must be clearly navigated. Leaders must be visible and their long-term goal and vision clearly defined and meaningfully communicated to ensure support from all stakeholders.

Technology — Increased productivity and efficiency is at the heart of transformational change and technology is a great enabler of new processes and systems. But technology only truly enables if key stakeholders are educated beyond mere process to understand the bigger picture.

Culture — A shift in culture is as hard to achieve in a small business as it is in a large one, so any organisational change strategy must begin with identifying key influencers and motivating them to become champions for change.

Collaboration — Whether it’s a new external supplier helping to implement the transformation project, long-term suppliers having to adapt to a new structure and model, or even loyal customers and end-users, they need to participate in decision-making to ensure goals are realistic and achievable.

Outcomes — It’s no longer about the Return on Investment but the outcome because it’s not about how quickly it pays for itself but the broader value that has been created for the wider organisation.

Entries are invited from any organisation operating in the public or private sector that has successfully refocused, restructured or strategically re-aligned to significantly reduce cost, improve efficiency, increase productivity, or enhance the citizen’s or customers experience. For more information about the Transformational Change of the Year award, visit the website at www.nationalbusinessawards.co.uk

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