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How to change in a confusing world – almost half of businesses are implementing solutions that fail to meet the need, regardless of time and money spent


30 May 2013

PA Consulting Group surveys 200 senior business executives on large-scale transformation

To compete and win, organisations must evolve, but according to PA Consulting Group’s global survey of 200 senior executives 46 per cent of organisations are disappointed by their attempts to change - regardless of time and money spent. Given the time and resources invested in change activity, these results are alarming. Change that fails to deliver is not just a matter of wasted investment, it also leaves the organisation no closer to addressing the challenges that first triggered the need for a change.

Slow to react, slow to respond
Over half of respondents admitted their organisation is slow to recognise the need to change and even once they have recognised the need to change, most are slow to react (57 per cent).  One respondent commented: “Poor clarity on what we want – and group consensus and support for it – is often the issue.”

The importance of getting the design right up-front
Change programmes that incorporate a design for the whole business up-front by defining a clear framework for how the business will organise people, process and technology to achieve its objectives, provide better outcomes. The survey confirms the strong link between successful change and clear design; only 22 per cent of executives who admitted to poor upfront design considered the solution they ended up with effective. In contrast, 80 per cent of those who believed their design was well defined from the outset thought their needs were largely met.

The importance of taking a broad view
PA’s survey also showed that organisations that take a broad view of design and consider how all components of the organisation are interlinked are more successful. Over 80 per cent of organisations that ensured their change plans considered all the elements of the business – processes, culture, leadership, people, skills, structure, location, technology, governance and customer services – considered their change programmes to be at least somewhat effective.

The language of change
Two-thirds of executives in PA’s survey thought there was no common language for business design within organisations. Unclear language is a widespread problem and almost 65 per cent of survey respondents said that inconsistency and a lack of clarity around terms has an impact on the success of change initiatives.
One organisation PA worked for reduced the time it took to develop and deliver new business applications by 20 per cent by creating a new commissioning process. This incorporated consistent terms used by all parties involved in the new business applications and meant the client was also able to make changes to the business platform five times faster.

Conrad Thompson, business design expert at PA Consulting Group, comments: “Developing a clear and integrated design for your business - and managing the change required to achieve it carefully - is the best guarantee of successful transformation.
“The lessons from this survey are clear - you need to have a well-defined view of where you want to get to before embarking on change, take a broad view of design and use common and clear language to talk about design throughout.”


Notes to the editor
About PA Consulting Group
We are an employee-owned firm of over 2,500 people, operating globally from offices across North America, Europe, the Nordics, the Gulf and Asia Pacific.

We are experts in energy, financial services, life sciences and healthcare, manufacturing, government and public services, defence and security, telecommunications, transport and logistics.

Our deep industry knowledge together with skills in management consulting, technology and innovation allows us to challenge conventional thinking and deliver exceptional results with lasting impact.

About the survey
Towards the end of 2012, PA surveyed nearly 200 C-level and Director-level representatives from a range of medium to large-scale organisations. Respondents to the survey represented a range of sectors and geographies including the UK, the US, Western Europe and Scandinavia. Our questions asked respondents to consider their approach and experience when tackling complex, large-scale transformational change and in particular the design, management, implementation and communication of change.

The analysis has been produced using the survey data and also by conducting a number of in-depth follow-up interviews with some participants. Our results and hypotheses have been validated by PA experts in Business Design, architecture and change management, and are supported by case studies from our work with clients.


To talk to one of our experts about how we can help you navigate the journey towards better, more efficient business services, contact us now. 

Contact the business design team

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