Or perhaps you have already developed more efficient processes, so now the meeting is about why you are not seeing the expected effects. Everyone at the table is puzzled. You transformed into an agile organisation 12 months ago to allow for greater flexibility and responsiveness, so why are you now hearing complaints from employees that they experience too much top-down management? You even had a workshop about what it means to be an agile organisation and what kind of mindset everybody should adopt!
If you can recognise even just part of the above in your own organisation, we dare to claim that the problem is that your solution does not address the real challenge in your organisation or at least only partially. And unfortunately, the mistake is quite common.
Silos are alive and well, thank you very much
Of course, every company is unique and so are the organisational challenges. And yet, the common denominator for the challenges outlined is that they are typically handled by a functional manager such as the operations manager, procurement manager or IT manager. In other words, the challenge is handled in a silo. Silos are still very much alive and well throughout organisations great and small, and this is bad news for change.
Strategic change of the kind that has real impact on your business cannot be solved in just one part of your operating model. Most of the time, you will end up with misaligned bits and pieces and a sense of confusion among your people. And when your company comes under pressure as many are in 2020, these misaligned bits and pieces may end up hindering rather than helping you realise your change.
Think bigger picture for the sake of change
The good news is that you can succeed with your change. It will just require a bit more work and a higher degree of involvement than you may have expected. Organisations which have been successful in their strategic changes generally make sure that their operating model supports these strategic changes in all aspects. For example, they make sure that the governance structure is aligned with both the leadership philosophy and the organisational setup . Changing only part of the operating model will not be successful, especially if the different parts in the operating model steer in opposite directions. This might sound obvious, but we find that this is often why you don’t get the desired effects from planned solutions in one or two parts of your operating model.
Three first steps to planning and executing a successful change
Your first step should be a 360-degree assessment of your operating model where you focus on how the interaction between the individual aspects of your operating model can support the change you want to realise. You need to get an overview of how the different parts of the system work and support each other.
Figure 1: A 360-degree assessment of your operating model is necessary to achieve the desired results of your strategic changes
The assessment should make clear where aspects do not pull in the same direction. Also make sure that the assessment covers all factors which could have an effect on the challenge at hand. And this is not a C-suite task. This is also not a middle manager task. This is a task that requires a cross-organisational team as this is the only way to get the 360-degree perspective that you need.
The second step is to use the insights from your assessment to define which aspects of your operating model you need to change to align with your strategy. Involve the entire executive team this time to get their support for the success factors and design criteria.
The third step is to prioritise. You cannot do everything at once. What needs to be done right now and what can wait? But never lose sight of the bigger picture even though it is a tricky balancing act. Define the expected results, both in terms of how to work on realising them and their effect, not least how to measure their effect. Involve the executive team in the prioritisation task for executive support.
Be the turtle
Don’t forget that change in one part of your operating model that is not aligned with the rest of the model will result in a solution with both old and new ways of working. In other words, neither here nor there. Yes, a 360-degree assessment and consequent alignment of your operating model requires some work, but it will be worth the investment. And yes, it would be easier and faster to only change the aspects directly related to the challenge you have identified. But just as in the fable of the turtle and the hare, slow and steady wins the race when we are talking strategic change.