To say that change is a way of life is to parrot an oft-mentioned truism. The question is not whether change will come, but how you will deal with it. The impact change has on your business can be guided and manipulated, but only if you have a plan.
In his article “Do You Begin an Enterprise Transformation with the Business or with IT?” Mark Edmead observes that organizations shift their core structures and operations in response to their relationship to the wider economic environment. In order to manage the progress of change and its effect, a business benefits from having a robust process to draw order from discombobulation. In short, change is scary. However, if it can be managed, then fear and uncertainty fade and your team can forge ahead, recognizing and capitalizing on the new opportunities that change brings.
The process for adapting to change beings with a blueprint of the organization’s current structure and operations, because you can’t manage what you don’t know. This baseline documentation helps to determine what operations can adapt most quickly, what will need to be added, and what will have to be jettisoned. Of course, not all change can be predicted: No one in the 1950s could have dreamed of the technological advancements of the past 20 years. However, most changes occur incrementally and can be predicted if only management pays attention.
Once the blueprint is in place, it’s time to determine where you want your business to go. In part, the where determines the how: How will your business get there? Make no mistake, this will involve technology.
Both the catalyst and the bane of modern business, technology grows, transforms, adapts, and metastasizes. Like a cancer, it has invaded every part of business operation and, like air, becomes the very breath of business. Unless you’re living in a stone age cave, you need technology to thrive. Technology, like nature, evolves. Most evolutionary advances can be predicted and occur incrementally. The Microsoft Windows(c) operating system revolutionized the way people interacted with their computers. It didn’t change the nature of the tasks for which people used them: number crunching, word processing, graphic design, etc. Then Android came along and cell phones quickly turned into mini-computers and internet devices. Cell phones, still used for placing and receiving calls, adapted to new uses.
The changes over the last 20 years, however, could be predicted, which businesses could plan for them. They could figure in the costs of adaptation and adoption and reconcile that with the return on investment in terms of efficiency and productivity. Your process to guide you from current operation to future practice should consider that not all necessary changes will yield a discernible profit. Some, in fact, may serve as cost centers rather than profit centers.
Ron Miller’s article “The Enterprise Transformation Conundrum” opines that change more often than not is driven upward from the lower ranks. C-suite decision makers won’t be persuaded to make a change for it’s own sake; the change “has to drive real business value, help sell more products, get customers more interested and have a measurable impact on the bottom line.”
The best way to ensure that change yields positive benefits for the business is to plan for it, show how it can be incorporated without breaking down the workforce and emptying the bank. Buy-in from management won’t come easily. They know that real innovation involves failure; however, these are the very people who are the most risk averse.
In order to negotiate a process that incorporates change, Miller advises, “start small and build a body of work.” Small successes will build to greater ones as management witnesses that change can bring not only opportunity but more success.
The Heggen Group helps organizations manage change through a navigable process that guides successful implementation. Contact us to learn how to plan for and manage growth.