Building Your Change GPS with Data You Already Have

Change has changed: a cliché but it’s true. Organizations are operating more fluidly using informal networks. This new behavior coupled with today’s pace and complexity of change means that companies need a data-driven approach to leading change. To understand this let’s take a look at how change management has evolved.

The Past: Leading Change Like Reading a Compass
Prior to the emergence of change theory in the late 20th Century there was little in the way of best practice. Leaders only knew the broad destination they were headed as most change was implementing tangible technologies and processes. It was like reading a compass: know the direction of travel and use your judgement and instinct to get there.

The Recent: Creating a Map for Change
Change theorists in the 1980s and 1990s suggested a series of approaches that represented an evolutionary step to codify what really works during times of change. This provided best practice techniques based on past evidence of success stories. It helped organizational development specialists create plans, in the same way a map provides the travel routes available from one place to another. This is the period of time when we began to understand that change is often over-managed and under-led, with too much focus on the map and not the destination.

The Now: Building a Change GPS
Today’s organizations challenge these approaches to change. Mainly because what these theories are based on is not immediately evident e.g. who are the real influencers, what are the barriers to change, and that there is often more than one path to success. The complexity of organizations, and the fact that change is now more continuous and volatile, makes planning around these insights exponentially more difficult.

What we need is a GPS for change: an active data-driven approach to predicting obstacles; identifying the best routes to take; and providing ongoing measurement and iteration. Let’s look at a typical change situation to bring this metaphor to life.

Implementing a New Organizational Strategy
New organizational strategies, and growing customer needs and expectations, often require new operating models and organizational capabilities. This places a large degree of change on the current workforce, some of whom may not fit the future state. Traditional change and workforce planning techniques have done a satisfactory job in ensuring business continuity. However, they have not consistently created an engaged and motivated workforce empowered to perform in the future state. This has an adverse impact on employee productivity and, ultimately, business performance.

How a Change GPS Can Help
The insight to prepare the workforce for the future state, and engage and enable them through the change, lies in data most organizations currently have or can easily collect. For example:

  • Employee sentiment towards the organizational culture
  • Leadership capability and style
  • Employee learning styles and motivations
  • Communications effectiveness

Much of this data already exists but it is seldom analyzed for change purposes. By collecting and analyzing this data before and throughout change we can create predictive models that identify many insights and trends. These include identifying:

  • Hidden influencers who can act as champions of the new strategy, using organizational network mapping
  • Predicted reactions to change, using typologies analytics, that will inform how to manage different employee groups
  • Engagement risks, so proactive action can be taken to sustain the engagement of critical employees
  • Change leadership development priorities aligned to the specific roles of leaders during change
  • The actions, from recruitment to learning, that will make sure employees are fully productive in the future state
  • Change adoption risks, identifying barriers to new ways of working and how to overcome them

This approach does not require perfect data, integrated databases, or shiny analytics systems. The “art in the science” is to take practical steps and make decisions on reasonable data that can provide a good degree of confidence. Over time these practical steps can be developed into a systemized ‘change GPS’.

So, how are you using the data you have on your colleagues to be more effective in a liquid change environment?

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Liquid Change in Latin America: BRICS, Mortars and Frontiers

We recently had the pleasure of meeting with friends and colleagues at our offices in Argentina and Brazil. While on my trip, by way of some great opportunities arranged by our gracious hosts, we had the opportunity to take a closer look at the communications and change management landscape of the region.

The world has turned its eyes towards Latin America, and for good reason. With rich histories, abundant resources and dynamic economies, it’s now a pivotal time for businesses to maximize their growth in the region if they hope to adapt to the pace and nuances of each market.

Here are a few of my observations on communication opportunities that exist in this space, particularly in areas that are experiencing more rapid change than their European and US counterparts.

1. Reaching the Next Stage of Maturity
Argentina’s Frontier economy and Brazil’s BRIC economy are both experiencing shifts that are modernizing the landscape of the markets. As industries continue to grow, change management and highly effective internal communications are particularly important to businesses focusing on how they operate, allocate resources and achieve new stages of growth.

2. Setting a High Bar
With a large number of multinational businesses in both Brazil and Argentina, it’s clear that there are tremendous advantages for global organizations to continue building a presence by investing in advanced workforce and talent infrastructures that support and attract the best people. As the products, brands and reputations of these businesses rapidly evolve from local to global, organizations must maintain local expertise and agile communications while bolstering their talent capabilities.

3. Scaling Excellence
Brazil is home to 75 unique cultures and a geographic footprint larger than India. With such a large and diverse landscape, companies have a unique opportunity to tap into enormous employee enthusiasm and regional pride, creating dynamic cultures that drive productivity, growth and consumer confidence. The first step should be to actively shape a high-performance culture by harnessing the potential of sophisticated internal communications and compelling employee value propositions (EVP). Look to develop a system that instinctively reacts to market changes, rewards innovative thinking and is dialed-in to the local environment.

4. Break Through with Creativity and Innovation
As businesses navigate fluctuating economies, regulatory environments and political parties, it’s more important than ever to harness employees’ creativity and innovation. Creating a work environment that rewards new ideas and breaks down traditional hierarchies and siloes, so brilliant ideas from anywhere can be turned into innovative actions and products, will help businesses develop a clear advantage.

As companies both big and small look to cultivate future-proof organizations in this exciting region, they will need to deftly handle the unique challenges within each market. It’s clear that for local organizations, having a strong internal communications foundation built into their rapid expansion plans will help them compete within the global landscape, while global brands can benefit from a change system that helps them become more nimble and tap into the nuances and unique challenges in each market. For both, having ‘Liquid Change’ organizations will be crucial as the world’s attention is increasingly drawn toward Latin America.