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Due diligence matters

Due diligence matters

A great Case Study here on what can go badly wrong if you don’t get your M&A integration planning right. 

Thank you to Sukand Ramachandran of the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and ITPro.

When dealing with a merger or acquisition there’s a lot for the boardroom to consider, from potentially differing business cultures to the rationalisation of technology platforms and people. 

And it only takes one small matter to be overlooked for a security breach to happen, with potentially serious consequences. 

For example, within a few days of completing a takeover deal by hotel chain Marriott, Starwood announced a security breach. This resulted in a 5.6% decline in Marriott’s share price and, ultimately, a £99 million fine in the UK from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

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Ensuring cyber security during mergers and acquisitions

A lack of due diligence when bringing two companies together can lead to major IT and security issues down the line

Almost all organisations face significant cyber risks, but the dangers are higher in certain scenarios, such as during mergers and acquisitions (M&As), where you’re looking to bring together two independent domains of technology from businesses that may have very different levels of risk.

The types of risk at a business where most of the information and data is protected behind ring fences are very different from an externally-facing, customer-orientated business where there are lots of points of interaction, notes Sukand Ramachandran, managing director and senior partner at the Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

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“In the past everything was using either one or a handful of monolithic platforms protected physically in a data centre and with limited access,” Ramachandran tells IT Pro. “In today’s very different world we have multi-layered protocols where web services may run on cloud platforms and there may be layers of middleware. Every little stack, and interface with the stack, creates points of vulnerability to consider.”

Due diligence matters

When dealing with a merger or acquisition there’s a lot for the boardroom to consider, from potentially differing business cultures to the rationalisation of technology platforms and people. And it only takes one small matter to be overlooked for a security breach to happen, with potentially serious consequences. For example, within a few days of completing a takeover deal by hotel chain Marriott, Starwood announced a security breach. This resulted in a 5.6% decline in Marriott’s share price and, ultimately, a £99 million fine in the UK from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).Advertisement

According to Tim Hickman, a cyber and privacy lawyer at White & Case, points out that in its ruling the ICO criticised a Marriott’s “failure to spot a significant cybersecurity vulnerability in Starwood, due to an alleged lack of due diligence”.

“In light of this, every business needs to put appropriate resources into investigating cyber security defences to ensure that any significant vulnerabilities are detected,” he says. 

Put together the right team 

Due diligence is often conducted by a group of technical experts and legal advisors, but in the experience of Jo Stewart-Rattray, founding chair of SheLeadsTech at ISACA, the right people aren’t always involved from the start.

“Acquisitions are sometimes transacted under a cloak of darkness and the CIO and/or the CISO are not necessarily included in the due diligence team. Therefore, issues may not be discovered until after the sale has been completed,” she tells IT Pro

“I’m currently dealing with issues that have appeared as a result of an acquisition, in fact I’ve been brought in to deal with the legacy systems that are problematic and exceptionally elderly, which in themselves are causing issues that potentially have cyber implications. This could have been avoided by a more thorough due diligence process in which the senior security and technology leaders were included to be able to assess the risks prior to acquisition.” 

The solution is to put together a robust due diligence team at the very start, ensuring you have the individuals with the key experience, knowledge and skills in place. According to BCG there should be a designated officer in charge of leading cybersecurity efforts throughout the M&A process, which is often the CISO. They should put in place a team of area experts who can provide in-depth assessments in areas such as penetration testing and data audits. 

Evaluating risk is key, and it’s important for both organisations to understand their infrastructure security based on the software, systems and architecture and prepare a risk control matrix. This way the level of cybersecurity risk can be identified and minimised before the merger or acquisition notes Professor Muttukrishnan Rajarajan, Director of the Institute for Cyber Security. “There are also predictive risk modelling methodologies that can be used to understand future threats based on the nature of the businesses,” he adds. 

Have a clear strategy in place 

Once past due diligence and onto announcing the merger or acquisition, the team should have a clear 100-day plan in place; the short-term strategy. Ramachandran advises that with a clear view of the ‘hot spots’– the points of high vulnerability – the team can focus on securing these and putting in place, and maintaining throughout, robust access management and cybersecurity protocols. 

He also notes this is the time to assess the business’ ability to respond to cyber events and recommends roleplaying cybersecurity scenarios with different parts of the business; no matter how busy executives are defining the new organisation. “This helps to ensure they’re also thinking about cyber security risk, as we ask them what their response protocol would be if they had a breach on day four.”

The long-term strategy should then revolve around establishing a more detailed integrated security strategy and governance which includes clear security roles and responsibilities, and, of course, ongoing staff training. 

Raise awareness 

So many things are happening during M&As that sometimes some of the above steps can be forgotten. The amount of change is vast, but it’s imperative not to ignore the inherent cybersecurity risks and ensure cybersecurity is a key part of the merger or acquisitions framework.

“Tuning into these risks will help leaders naturally prioritise,” says Ramachandran. “They’re figuring out what to spend their time on once they know how important it is. It’s just a question of raising the awareness inside an organisation of how critical a cybersecurity incident can be,” he concludes.

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Tips for Overcoming Resistance to Change

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In support of any organisational change initiative, really good change managers arrive with an easy to follow list of what to do, and what not to do.

My personal favourite when planning how best to overcome resistance to change is ‘Be honest and open about personal impact’. When leaders explain to staff why it is that we have to change, it is far easier to get people to adopt new ways of working.

If you like top tips, Darleen DeRosa shares her own top 5 on overcoming resistance here in B2C.

There’s no question that change is hard for any organization. Unfortunately, many change initiatives fail to achieve their goals.

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There’s no question that change is hard for any organization. Unfortunately, many change initiatives fail to achieve their goals.

Overcoming resistance to change is usually high on the list of many leader’s concerns, which is understandable given that making any kind of change is next to impossible without sufficient buy-in throughout the organization. A good change management plan, however, should already have several strategies in place for overcoming resistance to change and be prepared to answer tough questions about the process.

5 Tips for Overcoming Resistance to Change

1. Set Realistic Goals
Change management is difficult under the best of circumstances. It takes time to overcome organizational inertia and change longstanding practices. Setting overly ambitious goals will only place additional pressure on the change management team responsible for implementing the initiative and the employees who are impacted by it.

The situation is only made more difficult when there is no track record of success when it comes to change management. If the organization has tried to make changes in the past and failed, people will be skeptical that the current goals are achievable. While leadership often wants to undertake radical transformations, setting their goals too high or being too aggressive with the timeline can be barriers. By setting more modest and achievable goals, it’s easier to demonstrate to stakeholders how the organization can successfully move from one point to another.

2. Expect Resistance
If there’s one certainty that accompanies every change initiative, it’s that there will be resistance from somewhere. Change management requires leaders to think about how the changes they’re proposing will impact others. It’s easy to become wrapped up in the broader view of issues, focusing on how the changes will benefit the organization as a whole while failing to consider what those changes could mean for employees.

Simply brushing aside concerns and expecting employees to “deal with it” is a recipe for disaster. Many of those employees will need to buy into the changes in order for them to be successful. Without that buy-in, organizations can expect to deal with varying degrees of opposition or even lower levels of performance as people deal with the problems created by change. Consulting a wide range of stakeholders beforehand can help to minimize resistance and provide a good idea of what kind of resistance should be expected. The people being impacted by change should be involved early and often to help improve decision making and buy-in. Forming a cross-functional team with representatives from these stakeholders to facilitate dialogue can make it easier to manage potential resistance.

3. Understand the Reasons for Resistance
There are a variety of reasons why people are resistant to change. Fear is usually the biggest motivator, especially if there is a great deal of uncertainty about how changes will affect people. In other cases, resistance may be the result of interdepartmental or even interpersonal rivalries. If leadership has not made a strong commitment to change, it can often be difficult to convince established and experienced leaders to shake up the status quo. And, of course, it’s also worth pointing out that sometimes resistance is a completely rational and necessary response to a change initiative that was not well thought out and has little possibility of success.

When addressing opposition to change, it’s important to first identify the underlying motivations of that resistance. In some instances, resistance could simply be due to a lack of communication. More often, the disruptive effects of major organizational changes are much more fundamental, forcing people to move outside their comfort zones and worry about their future. By identifying concerns and connecting them to resistant behaviors, it’s easier to address specific issues and effects associated with change in ways that are both reassuring and empowering. Leaders should also keep in mind that the questions and concerns they perceive as “resistance” may be a natural part of the transition process as employees work to understand how the changes will impact them and prepare to make them.

4. Make the Case for Change
When an organization rolls out a major change initiative, it’s usually in response to a significant challenge or problem that makes it difficult to move forward. Longstanding stakeholders often don’t see the need for change thanks to status quo bias. They may point out that the organization has always done things a certain way in the past and that those practices have served it well. While this may be true, it fails to ask the critical question of whether that will continue to be the case in the future.

The burden falls to change advocates to lay out the necessity for changes, explaining why the changes are necessary and what they will enable the organization to do going forward. It’s important to remember that not all employees have the same perspective. While things may seem to be working well in their own department, they may be oblivious to problems elsewhere or not even realize how their own practices are far less efficient than they think. Whatever the reason, it’s important to be able to explain to them why difficult changes are necessary from more of a “big picture” perspective.

In addition to making the business case for change, leadership needs to be clear about how the changes will be executed. Realistic goals and time frames should be established. Leaders must allocate sufficient resources and be transparent about what the plan will look like in practice. When employees feel like they know what’s going to happen, they can better prepare for the transition and manage the demands it places upon them. Leaders should also be up-front about the potential challenges that may develop along the way so no one feels blindsided when obstacles emerge.

5. Identify and Involve Non-Supporters
Implementing change shouldn’t be an exercise in authoritarian leadership. Simply forcing people to make changes will generally lead to much greater resistance in the form of disengagement, turnover, and negative behaviors. One of the best ways to secure support for change initiatives is to identify the people who are not supportive of change and incorporate them into the process.

This approach is largely inspired by models of positive conflict resolution. Even if the non-supporters do not manage to dissuade anyone from their efforts, they will be more likely to support the process if they feel like their voices were heard early on in the process. In some cases, their feedback can bring much-needed perspective to the change management team and help it to refine plans in ways that are much more likely to gain widespread support.

Making changes of any kind to an organization is a difficult process. Even minor changes can be incredibly disruptive and should not be taken for granted. That’s why it’s critically important for a change management plan to have a solid strategy in place for how to manage resistance in all its forms. Failing to address these challenges in the planning stages can result in significant delays and other problems later in the process, potentially endangering the success of the project itself.

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Tips for Overcoming Resistance to Change
How to Adapt to Constant Changes: Create It

How to Adapt to Constant Changes: Create It

Great read here on the benefits of organisations building in house capability to manage change.

‘To get ahead of the competition, organisations need to flip the script on change and enable employees to lead change themselves’.

Thank you to Mara Hoogerhuis and Jillian Anderson for sharing.

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As leaders well know, constant change is the new normal in today’s workplaces.

As a result, organizational agility is increasingly evasive. It’s no longer enough to react to disruption — or to delegate change management to HR or other internal functions.

To get ahead of the competition, organizations need to flip the script on change and enable employees to lead change themselves.

To prepare their people to help lead change, leaders need a workplace culture that lives and breathes adaptability — a culture with agility in its DNA.

A truly agile workplace culture empowers employees to think on their feet and spearhead innovation with ease.

Leaders must fundamentally alter their approach to change management to create an adaptable work culture. Modern change realities require modern change strategies that prioritize the human capacity to thrive in a state of continuous change.

The Behavioral Economics of Change

Traditional change management focuses on processes and tools — the logistics of “what is changing” and “how it will change.” Change management typically is about minimizing disruption, and it often underemphasizes the behavioral side of change.

The thing is, this approach doesn’t work when disruption is constant (which might help explain why more than 70% of corporate change initiatives fail). While processes and technology are important, the true opportunity that traditional change management misses lies in liberating people to create and sustain change.

In today’s ever-fluctuating work environments, the workplaces that win are home to change leaders. The ability to initiate and navigate change should permeate all levels of the company, not just the C-suite. Of course, this is a tall order — one that requires a nuanced understanding of the behavioral economics of change.

Gallup defines behavioral economics as “the mathematical description of the role human nature plays in just about everything.”

When leaders understand human emotional dynamics — including mindsets, behaviors and cultural norms — they can create a work environment that energizes people to get ahead of change and push the organization forward.

Shifting Your Mindset on Change

The Mindset of Managing ChangeThe Mindset of Leading Change
Drive change from the top down.Inspire change at all levels.
Prioritize the structural aspects of change.Prioritize the behavioral and cultural aspects of change.
A manager’s role is to inform employees about change.A manager’s role is to coach and empower people to create change.

How to Create a Change-Leading Workplace Culture

Here are four ways leaders can foster change leadership and encourage their employees to own disruption.

1. Involve, trust and empower your people.

Leaders can motivate employees to accelerate change when they cultivate and integrate employees’ ideas. To source these insights, leaders should broaden their internal networks, give employees and managers a voice, and develop employees at all levels.

Leaders also need to entrust employees with autonomy. Employees need far more than information to guide change locally — they need authority, coaching and accountability. For example, leaders should involve managers and employees who are affected by change as early as possible and ensure employees understand the importance of their role in the change.

Ultimately, leaders can develop employees into agents of change by consistently demonstrating that employees’ ideas and contributions matter.

2. Prioritize manager development.

Managers wield tremendous influence over how well employees adopt and sustain desired behaviors. In fact, Gallup data show that managers account for 70% of the variance in team engagement — a critical driver of discretionary effort.When managers serve as coaches, not bosses, they fuel engagement and inspire employees to move away from their routines and adopt new mindsets and behaviors. To position managers as coaches, leaders should invest in ongoing manager development — and most importantly, give managers the freedom to coach their team members.For example, managers who are overwhelmed with administrative responsibilities will find it difficult to fully invest in one-on-one coaching conversations. But when leaders support managers with the right tools and performance expectations, they can unleash managers to strengthen employee awareness, adoption and accountability.

3. Use analytics to get ahead of employees’ perceptions and emotions.

Emotions primarily drive decision-making, not rational thinking. In fact, 70% of decision-making is based on emotion and 30% on rational thought. This can be problematic because change can cause mixed emotions among employees — from fear and uncertainty to anticipation and excitement.Leaders should use multiple channels to understand employees’ emotions and perspectives, including ongoing dialogue, employee analytics and feedback mechanisms. With in-depth insights, leaders can adjust their strategies, grow employee buy-in and disseminate best practices.For example, through individual conversations with key stakeholders, leaders can glean success strategies from early adopters and early resisters. And with qualitative and quantitative data on their people’s change readiness, leaders can discover ways to unify employees behind a change initiative.Because managers are responsible for inspiring change locally, leaders should involve managers in feedback collection and give them access to real-time employee analytics.

4. Create a culture of learning.

A disruption-ready organization never stops learning and growing. To lead change, employees must repeatedly adapt to new discoveries and shifting demands.Leaders should create processes and cultural norms that propagate rapid experimentation, adaptation and collaboration. Siloed learning won’t create a culture of change leaders; leaders must ensure their people are aligned and working together to drive success.Further, leaders need to use performance management practices that promote ongoing communication and coaching between managers and their teams. The right performance management solutions enable managers to keep employees “in the know,” manage role expectations and inspire desired behaviors.

Disruption in the world of work is here to stay. It will continually alter workplaces, workforces, workspaces, workflows and workloads.

Only leaders who respond to this new norm by disrupting their own philosophies and strategies about change can position the heart of their organization — their people — to continuously adapt and excel.

Mara Hoogerhuis is a Senior Workplace Consultant at Gallup.Jillian Anderson is a Subject Matter Expert at Gallup.

Bailey Nelson contributed to this article.

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Change management: A better way to explain the “why”

Answering properly the ‘why are we doing it’ question is so important when leaders start to talk to their people about organisational change.

Sadly, it often forgotten as we get caught up too quickly in implementing change. Always stop and think, do my staff really understand why we are changing? If they don’t, the chances of your change initiative succeeding are small.

Bob Kantor’s excellent piece here explains why this is so critical when firing up our change management initiatives.

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Most leaders can walk their team through the what and the how behind change management efforts, but fall short on the why. Here’s how to make it meaningful.

The track record for most change management efforts is pretty dismal. One missing element often dooms these efforts from the start: Most leaders focus on the what and the how, thinking that these items will carry the ball. Leaders often avoid the why because it tends to be more of an emotional message – and people are less comfortable with those.

But the reality is that people make decisions based on their emotions, and then use the data to justify and validate their decisions. If you want your teams to actively support your change efforts, you need to do a much better job of engaging them in why it matters.

Why the why matters in change management

Let’s look at a simple and effective change management project plan, which should include:

Vision for the change – what we are changing
Rationale for the change – why it’s important to make that change
List of related projects and initiatives – how we will achieve that change
Most of us can explain what we are doing and how we are going about it, but most of us either skip or struggle with why it matters. Since organizations don’t change – people do – explaining the why needs to be personalized.

Also, people don’t resist change, but they do resist being changed. Leaders must involve their people in defining the why and implementing the change. These efforts require a lot of communication. And it’s not enough to simply send a message; you also must test for how the message was understood, and adapt as needed.

Unfortunately, skipping this work is what makes the difference between people supporting the change because they feel they have to, and people supporting the change because they want to. This distinction is the critical make-or-break factor in the success of change initiatives.

People who understand and emotionally connect with the rationale for the change feel inspired rather than manipulated.
Employees who feel that they have to do something usually feel like victims and will invest the minimum amount of effort and creative energy to deliver new results.

But employees who understand and emotionally connect with the rationale for the change – why it’s important to the organization and to them – feel inspired rather than manipulated, and will do all they can to creatively support and implement the target change.

A better way to explain the why
Often, when leaders attempt to communicate the rationale for change, they focus on why the change is important to them rather than on why it’s important to the team. They overlook the critical element – we call it WIIFM: what’s in it for me?

Reverse-engineer your traditional communication process.
The best advice I have is to reverse-engineer your traditional communication process. Start with what result you want. For example, it might be staff enthusiasm and commitment to making an organizational change happen. Then identify what the team currently believes about the situation. They might think, for instance, “Going to a managed services provider means I’m going to lose my job.”

From there, identify what they would need to believe in order to enthusiastically support the change. For example, “Once we transition our infrastructure support to an MSP, I will be retrained to enhance my infrastructure engineering skills and learn how to implement DevOps. My work will become much more interesting and less stressful, and my market value will significantly increase.”

Finally, examine the gap between what your audience currently believes about the change and what they need to believe about the change, and design your communication messages and engagement process to close that gap.

There’s even more you can do to make change personal. Let’s explore five tips:

5 ways to make change personal

Once you understand how to explain the why, you need a reliable strategy for getting the message across. Here are a few practical tips.

  1. Expect to over-communicate. Most of us need to hear a message multiple times before we really get it. Yet many change leaders think that “one and done” is all it takes for others to get on board. This often occurs because the leaders have been aware of the new vision for several months, and they forget that others are hearing it for the first time.
  2. Be transparent when you don’t have all the answers. Change is hard and needs to be fluid. Leaders rarely have all the answers in the early stages of organizational changes. Rather than wait to engage teams until you do, let them know what you do know when you know it, and keep providing updates as the process evolves.
  3. Constantly test for shared understanding. As George Bernard Shaw said, “The problem with communication is the illusion it has occurred.” Most management courses advise leaders to use active listening by asking people to repeat back what they’ve heard. But that doesn’t work very well in times of change. Nor does simply asking them if they understand what you’ve said.
  4. It’s better to ask folks what they think about what they’ve heard, or what their concerns and suggestions are for moving ahead as an organization. As they share those, leaders can assess how close they are to a shared understanding and adjust their messaging, and perhaps even their change plan, accordingly.
  5. Ensure everyone in the organization is in the loop. I’ve seen senior leadership send out all-hands messages about which their middle managers had no knowledge. Then when staff members asked their immediate manager questions about the situation, they got an unhelpful response along the lines of, “I don’t know either. I just heard about this the same way you did.”

Make sure everyone in your chain of command knows what’s happening, when it’s happening, and why it’s happening. Better yet, prep them with FAQs and sample answers. Also, make sure that they are on board, and address any concerns they may have before the all-hands messaging begins.

Again, adequately explaining the why is a lot of work for leaders. But while you might be inclined to skip it or feel like it will slow you down, it will actually help you achieve change more efficiently. And that’s the whole idea, right?

Change management: A better way to explain the “why”
New Decade, New Deal

New Decade, New Deal

Although we should all keep our business planning under constant review, human nature means we often only do this when events prompt us to do so. New Year thinking often prompts big ideas. And why not? We should all think outside the box sometimes. Even Boards of Directors in mature businesses need to be reminded to plan regularly. Think big.

Is it perhaps time to buy that competitor you have always admired? Or, if you are nearer to the end of your business journey, is it maybe time to develop an exit strategy?

A business acquisition is well recognised as maybe the only way to achieve significant business growth in a short space of time. If you get the integration of your target acquisition right it can also deliver clear benefits, most likely at least one or all of the following:
• immediate access to a larger portfolio of paying customers
• a bigger group of experienced staff often with useful new ideas
• an opportunity to diversify your product offering without having to learn new things
• new positive energy and impetus for the larger business going forwards
Mergers or acquisitions do not have to involve large capital sums either. There are lots of ways to structure a deal.
If you are in the planning an ‘exit strategy’ camp, and rightly concerned about your customers and colleagues, why not hand-over gradually? Any new management team will probably be immensely grateful to have you on-hand for a period to transfer those key relationships gradually.

This is all part of what is called Post Merger Integration (PMI) planning. Getting the future plans right for the business, for its customers, colleagues and for its leadership teams.

If 2020 is a time for some big business ideas for your business and you want to discuss how you might plan for these, please get in touch for conversation.

Changeability is a strategic advantage

Changeability is a strategic advantage – one of several takeaways from a Change Management Institute virtual round table session on the challenges presented by Enterprise Change.

What is so different about supporting change for a whole organisation, or enterprise, compared to helping smaller change initiatives? How would you recommend making a start with larger change programmes? What would you prioritise first?

Only some of the questions debated by a panel of four experienced change managers from all corners of the globe who hooked up live this month facilitated by Connie Henson in Washington.

Chantäl Patruno in Sydney helpfully prescribed a “three C approach” in the important discovery phase. First, remember to assess the CAPABILITY of the organisation to change, or its change readiness. Second, analyse the working CULTURE that is present. Is it a start-up fully open to new ways of working or a more conservative or traditional organisation, where new ideas will struggle to get adopted? Third, in assessing the CAPACITY to change, discover the enterprise’s previous change history, remembering to record and later refer to both prior success stories as well as failures. Lastly, you should also consider the capacity that middle managers and team leaders have to simultaneously run and change the business at the same time and find ways to make this possible.

Sky Dow in London also endorsed a three steps approach. On where to start? Her advice was not to go in with preconceived ideas, rather, and simply: (1) go in to support the business, (2) provide the tools to support the change required and (3) grow the capability at all levels in the business, to support the change, senior down to junior.

Another good tip from Chantäl Patruno was “the bigger the enterprise, the more critical it is to get alignment across the full leadership group.” Ask them all to say, individually or in a group setting, why it is that we are doing this change? One can imagine how powerful this would be in an open forum, workshop or even Board Room setting. Seek alignment and try and get a “leadership multiplier effect” going in support of the enterprise change.

Gordon Brockway in Perth, Australia targets resistance management techniques at enterprise level. He stressed the need for change managers to facilitate the tricky conversations that really matter but do not tend to happen. Take away the fears that people have by addressing them. Nobody else will do so.

Gordon also reminds people they are capable of change by asking what successful changes in their lives they have managed well previously: “There is resilience out there and people are capable of adaption.”

“Don’t let your sponsor off the hook” when working at implementation level was a key learning from Mike Mactavish in London. Mike also stressed the need for change management today to become a core business activity and not just another strategic change initiative that takes place every 5 years. More and more organisations are starting to recognise that having an internal change management function is an effective way to fully embed business change.

This prompted my favourite takeaway, coming from Chantäl Patruno, namely, the need for the modern enterprise to no longer adopt the term Business As Usual (BAU) but rather learn to operate with Change As Usual (CAU). If you like acronyms on change, and there are lots, this one is hard to beat.

My thanks to all of the panel and Dr. Connie Henson for hosting such an interesting Change Management Institute Learning Circle event, and for agreeing to its takeaways being shared by FUSE.

Changeability is a strategic advantage
Every Change Starts with an Idea

Every Change Starts with an Idea

Every change starts with an idea.

But how many of these new ideas actually survive implementation?  Why is the effective management of organizational change so important?

As business leaders, we are trained to be creative, to find better ways of working, always looking expand our organisation’s capability. Standing still is rarely viewed as successful business activity.

We are often good at planning and we have people with the confidence to implement these new ideas, so we “crack on” and put them into practice, usually as quickly as possible.  It therefore comes as rather a shock when our plans fail to meet the approval of our colleagues or customers. Even more surprising, once we have overcome the organisational resistance to the change, we discover our plans don’t actually work in practice.

A new management discipline has emerged to help increase the chances of implementing successful business change and it is called change management.

Here is a priority checklist of what you should be asking your change managers to deliver for you:
• helping your organization recognise the need for change and define what that change is
• assessing the organization’s readiness for change and improving its appetite to do so
• measure the impact of the change and helping you plan how to prepare for this
• supporting your people’s engagement with projects, process improvements and new technology
• overall, helping to sustain and embed the change in your organization

FUSE is a niche business management consultancy practice, which specialises in change management. We can help with all of the above. We can also help set up a change capability inside your organisation.

For more information, or to schedule a first conversation, please get in touch.

Driving Change and Successful Business Transformation

The sad reality is that many business change or transformation initiatives fail along the way. Not due to any lack of effort or investment, but rather a lack of clear thinking or poor communication.

Here are some ideas to mitigate against these two common causes of failed change.

Most people like check-lists. So, start with a check-list of things you have to get right. Then, agree with stakeholders in the change process how it is that you are going to deliver these.

Here is my check-list. You can build a plan around these five points without too much difficulty.

  1. Confirm support for the initiative from senior staff
  2. Agree how the organisation expects to benefit from the change
  3. Assess how capable the organisation is of accepting change
  4. Understand how the business likes to communicate and match it
  5. Support the change process through good leadership, appropriate training & facilitation

If you like the “check-list” method try another set to help guide your communications. These “communication rules” should be agreed with your sponsors or senior stakeholders. You do not need to start from scratch. Others have got there first, of course. Try the “4 Ps approach” coined by William Bridges (Managing Transitions 2003) in his popular and much quoted text on the subject.

Bridges encourages managers to help staff with the normal anxiety that is brought on by change and accelerate through the change transition process by using “The Four Ps”:

  1. Purpose: Why are we doing this? What problem are we solving? What are we trying to achieve? People must understand the logic of a change before they can embrace it.
  2. Picture: What is the end game? How is it going to work? What is changing and what isn’t? People often need to imagine what the change will look like before they can commit.
  3. Plan: What is the road map for getting to where we need to go? What is going to happen over the next few weeks and months? What happens first, second, third? People need a clear idea of how they are going to get to where they need to go.
  4. Part: What is my role? How will I be involved? Do I have an opportunity for input into the plan? When will I be trained? People need a tangible way to contribute.

By providing information about the four Ps in all of your communications, you will help your team understand why the change is necessary, what it looks like, how you’re all going to get there, and how they fit in. Keep in mind that during times of transition, your communication isn’t just about sharing information. It’s also about how you use your communication to connect with your employees, let them know you care and build their commitment to the change.

Two check-lists to help mitigate against failed change management due to lack of clear thinking and poor communication.

What do you think?

Let me know!

Driving Change and Successful Business Transformation