Change Management; thinking differently – the new normal

I think Apple, for many years, used the tag line “think different” in their advertising as they attempted to challenge the accepted norm of a PC and a Microsoft desktop.  Now look at where we are.

For me, in the world of change management and project management; thinking differently is the way to go.  Why do we accept 70% failure as the norm?

There are millions of project management tools and a myriad of techniques.  There are consulting organisations by the dozen advising us on strategic change and supporting change programmes.  What’s going wrong?

Houston We Have

Could it be that the ‘point of failure’ is at board level when we consider competing investments – how do we evaluate which are the worthiest investments?  Do we all have a common view and understanding?  And when so much change is based upon technology change – do we all have a common understanding of that technology and its impact?  Are we all speaking the same language?

Seems to me that constraints of business; the desire for speed, cost cutting, and the relentless quest for shareholder or public value force us business managers into certain ways of thinking.  Unrealistic deadlines force expediency and compromise.

For example, I was talking to a large, global software organisation who decided to re-engineer the manner by which they interact with their customer’s service needs.  Their problem was that over the years they had acquired many organisations, in many locations, each with their own processes for dealing with customer inquiries.  The result is customer confusion for global buyers and inconsistent service quality.   A classic change management project; the programme was given board approval, a budget, a mandate to cut costs, and a timescale of three months to implementation of a new approach.   Nothing terribly wrong here – and familiar to many of us.

Sadly, the approach taken was to look at existing practices across all geographies and organisations, and examining existing workflows and systems to support. One operating subsidiary was deemed to have a good approach and modern systems; and this was adopted globally.  All other systems were shut down achieving cost reduction, and all staff were re-trained ensuring consistency.  Job done.  Big tick in the box. Good news! The change managestrategy-keyboardment project delivered reduced cost and took three months to implement.

Unfortunately, for the customer, it delivered the wrong outcome.   Instead of starting with a desired outcome and an understanding of the existing state, the project management team in this organisation simply took the easiest approach to achieve their goal; namely, to cut costs and deliver in three months.  Yet the Executive Board had a desire to improve customer service.

The moral of this story?  Always start with a stated outcome for any programme of change.  Make the outcome obvious and measurable.

After that do not think about what systems you currently use.  Ignore current workflows and processes. Don’t start with existing technology and systems.  Forget (initially) people, roles and responsibilities and staffing implications.   (These factors can come later.)

Simply think about what information you require to enable your desired outcome(s).

Think differently  

Think of your organisation as a series of information flows that enable actions.  These actions, in turn, may create further information or further actions.  Eventually this “information supply chain” creates an outcome.  This manner of thinking constructs a series of simple information supply chains; each with a value and a cost.

It is interesting to consider what Toyota did for manufacturing processes.  Their invention of the Toyota manufacturing systems in the 1980’s revolutionised the production of motor vehicles and had a significant impact on the manufacturing process in many industries.  Toyota’s approach to lean, agile manufacturing, eliminating areas of wastage, reducing manufacturing cost but increasing quality, required Toyota management to think differently about their manufacturing process.

Adopting the same principles, shouldn’t we think similarly about the ‘production of information’ or knowledge in our organisations?  Many organisations don’t manufacture a physical product – they manufacture information.   Why not apply the Toyota principles to the manufacture of knowledge and create a picture of information flows – like a manufacturing supply chain – that enable outcomes in your business?

The ‘new normal’ is to think differently about project change and transformational programmes.  If you are embarking upon digital transformation in your business perhaps you should think about re-engineering your ‘information supply chain” to create different outcomes. That’s where we, LINQ, can help. Our tool is the first to be developed specifically to enable the capture of Information Supply Chains and gain insights about the flow of information through those supply chains in support of your business outcomes. Quickly understand the current state of your business, identify opportunities to improve efficiency and effectiveness through the mitigation of wastage, communicate accurately to everyone in the business and make good investment decisions with LINQ. Get in touch with us through our website to know more.