Today's volatile business environment demands fast and frequent organisational change. Rapid transformation in the political and economic landscape and in technological innovation are having an impact in every market. To become (or remain) market leaders, organisations need to deliver change more quickly and more often, and be able to react to uncertainty as it arises.
The problem is that, in many businesses, agility is constrained by slow organisational decision-making. Typically, business-planning timeframes are elongated and encumbered by bottle necks at key times of the year. Often there are not enough people or capability to carry out the transformation, and weak capacity management and resource allocation mechanisms exacerbate the problem. For financial and technological reasons, many businesses also want to deliver organisational change in smaller, incremental chunks rather than as ‘big bang’ investment projects.
So how can we overcome these hurdles? Our experience in delivering organisational change in a wide range of sectors is that an adaptive approach to change management – with a time-bound focus on benefits and outcomes – will deliver great results.
At PA, our change management experts use an adaptive approach built on four key principles:
have a clear strategic direction – focus on realising benefits early and delivering them in waves
make decisions quickly and ensure you have the clear management information you need to do this
build flexibility into the way you manage and deploy resources, putting the emphasis on small, high-capability teams
use light processes, placing the emphasis on outputs, not inputs and controls, to enable rather than constrain
PA has used this adaptive approach in the health sector to achieve a 50% improvement in a key performance metric for our client. Our change management strategy focused on delivering the greatest impact with the least effort by changing behaviours, processes and organisation. This approach demanded robust, timely decision-making, underpinned by up-to-date, reliable information that allowed us to allocate resources quickly to sites with the greatest potential for performance improvement. After we achieved the original, ‘undeliverable’ improvement target ahead of schedule and within budget, the Board asked for more. We eventually achieved a 75% improvement within a further 12 months, delivering an estimated £100m in savings.
Our change management experts also delivered a £100m business-driven, IT-enabled organisational change programme to double the capacity of our client’s business and improve the quality of work delivered. As a result, the business identified several new opportunities arising from the new capability. Rather than embarking on a further large change programme, we developed a strategy to deliver smaller, faster changes to ways of working. This involved managing a portfolio of change initiatives, maintaining a clear picture of the change impact in different business units and early piloting of ideas.