Five trends that will continue to shape the way Australian organisations enable change and transformation
Our team of change experts here at Blue Seed Consulting have asked ourselves “What must organisations do in 2024 and beyond to effectively deliver on their change and transformation agendas?”
We’re seeing a more acute focus on spend and resourcing that comes hand-in-hand with a tougher economic outlook. Coupled with technological advancements and shifting social norms, these conditions will continue to create constant change in the workplace and place even greater importance on effective change management.
So how can organisations face into this future and harness their change capability as a competitive advantage?
Here are five trends we believe will make that measurable difference:
1. Construct a single front door: Centralised transformation offices
Successful organisations are building centralised Transformation Offices that enable disciplined governance, prioritisation of effort and the laser-like focus needed to deliver on an organisation’s strategic imperative over the long term – not just one change initiative at a time.
We’ve witnessed more mid-sized organisations investing in a central point for managing all project, program and strategic change initiatives where they may have felt in the past that they did not have the size or scale to warrant this approach. Often the need becomes clear once the effects of disjointed decision-making, duplication of effort and lack of awareness of cross-organisational dependencies negatively impact return on investment as individual business areas just keep “getting on with it”.
So how can a centralised transformation function improve the way change is delivered and embedded into an organisation?
- A whole of organisation approach from the outset will discourage ongoing silos. Stakeholders must understand how budget, funding and resource decisions are made and how they can participate and state their case
- The organisation’s strategy needs to consistently be front and centre during governance forums and prioritisation activities
- A single view of all the major change initiatives across the organisation and their timelines will provide insight into the change burden and feasibility on teams to allow this to be proactively managed for better change adoption
- Consider underlying issues that exist across the business that may need to be addressed to benefit multiple projects and programs, for example; technical infrastructure, digital literacy, or inconsistent or unclear policies or procedures
- Seek to have bold conversations and resolve conflicts as they come up
- Include responsibility for crafting and communicating the company’s strategic narrative in the transformation office’s remit, to win employee hearts and minds
- Opportunities for two-way dialogue with the business about what works well and what can be improved upon are key
- In situations where there has been a lack of adherence to process or governance, face into these with a partnership mentality and a relationship-building mindset
To learn more about what you need to know before embarking on a transformation program, click here to read about The Big Five Transformation Questions.
2. Shape change success from the core: Change management as an in-house function
Change management is being set up as a critical in-house function and held accountable for achieving adoption and successful outcomes across the entire organisational change portfolio and resource pool.
Sometimes when we first engage with a client, we are enthusiastically told that there are plenty of change managers in the organisation working on projects – so good change management is alive and well! However, there is usually no clear accountability for change delivery and adoption standards, change resourcing effectiveness or alignment of change activities against the organisation’s strategic narrative.
This is radically different from the benefits to be gained when a fit-for-purpose change operating model is embedded into an organisation and key individuals are wholly focused on delivering successful change outcomes across the board.
Here is what is possible:
Change delivery excellence:
- Ongoing improvements to change management tools and delivery methods
- Quality assurance across all organisational change initiatives
- Effective allocation of change resources and expertise
- Knowledge sharing across a change community of practice
Change processes and systems:
- A single source of truth about change initiatives and cross-organisation impacts
- Improved ability of senior decision-makers to review a portfolio of initiatives and make decisions in the interest of the business, not just individual projects
- Robust tracking of change success and adoption outcomes, closely aligned to target outcomes in business cases
Change leadership and culture:
- A commitment to building skills and knowledge of senior leaders across the organisation to understand, communicate and lead workforces through change
- A focus on ensuring the workforce understands the strategic vision and can make a connection between how they need to do things differently to make it happen
- Less fear of, and more openness to new ways of working once leaders and employees trust that they will be supported well through change
Read how executives and organisations can improve their success rate when it comes to implementing change programs here.
If you are in a senior change lead role, assess your success against our Head of Change Management checklist here.
3. Prepare for a new breed of change: Ignore behavioural elements at your peril
Contemporary business risks and external expectations will reshape future project portfolios. Cybersecurity, automation, ESG and psychological safety are just some of the new drivers for change not widely acknowledged just a few years ago. The question is, do these initiatives require a new approach to making the change stick?
These new change drivers seem at first glance to be primarily driven by technology, process or legislation. However, on closer examination, long-term success boils down to every individual being aware of how their own behaviours protect (or could disrupt) your business at any given moment. Your people need consistently high level of awareness and engagement to avoid potentially serious reputational damage to your organisation.
Cyber security for example relies on all employees having a deep “care factor” about their own responsibility for maintaining cyber safety. Similarly, new laws protecting psychological safety in workplaces outline accountabilities and actions to a point – but each of your people needs to live and breathe the intent of the legislation in all workplace interactions.
This “always on” mindset requires nurturing and commitment, so what can organisations do about it?
- Build a core set of communications, training and support content to leverage, then expect to do a lot more than that to make the change stick
- Plan for dedicated time and activities where all individuals have the chance to reflect on, and commit to, new ways of working
- Create ongoing reporting and success tracking to identify progress over time, and whether course correction or reinforcement is needed
- Create forums, accountabilities and performance measures that embed and reinforce the right behaviours for people leaders and individuals’ ongoing
- Be clear on what happens if something goes wrong – who will be involved, what is the response and how will lack of adherence be dealt with.
4. Change is part of everyone’s job: Invest in deep change leadership capability
No more shying away from the fact that today’s people leaders, no matter what their job title, are expected to make change happen. It makes sense to invest in long-lasting change leadership capabilities and practical skillsets.
Business initiatives come in all shapes and sizes. Large and complex programs usually secure funding to allow for dedicated, experienced delivery resources to lead the charge. However, often accountability for small to medium business initiatives remains with people leaders who are tasked with delivering change outcomes in addition to their “day jobs”.
It does make sense to seat the leader whose team needs to work differently in the driver’s seat, as it is in their best interests to make sure the change is sustainable. However, we are seeing a mismatch between the support and upskilling being made available to these leaders, and the high standards that are expected of them. A subject matter expert may be clear on what the end result needs to look like, but if they do not understand how to bring their people and stakeholders along through the change, they will likely fall short of their goals.
So what happens when people leaders cannot confidently lead business change?
- Business owners tend to jump straight into execution, before proper analysis of change impacts – leading to a higher magnitude of business risks later
- Stakeholders can be left off the radar and not engaged as and when they should be
- The vision for change can become diluted over time as leaders try to “get through it” the best they can
- Change processes and outcomes are variable and will depend on who is assigned the task
- Initiatives come unstuck if the “what’s in it for me” hasn’t been considered or communicated properly to leaders and employees
- Without knowledge about how to embed change properly, the “pain” from past initiatives can drag out for much longer
- Even with great tenacity, over time leaders feel a loss of control and influence when change feels like it is “being done to them” – a prime reason for change fatigue.
- Business benefits are not realised or are compromised, contributing to a sense that ‘we don’t do change well here’, which impacts support for future initiatives and has negative impacts on staff retention.
For more information about Blue Seed’s approach to building organisational Change Intelligence click here
5. Not just employees impacted by change: Think outside your organisation’s “borders”
It is not just employees that will need new information, skills and support to bring your transformation to life. Customers, suppliers and vendors are also regularly being asked to change how they engage with an organisation. Why wouldn’t they need change management support too?
Consider how often you, as a customer, have been asked by an organisation to do something differently as their internal systems and processes evolve: paying a bill, submitting a form, or signing up for a new product. Failure to understand what is required or a clunky process will create dissatisfaction or impact your brand reputation.
Similarly with suppliers and vendors who need to interact with your organisation differently when change happens. The better they can perform and deliver, the more successful your own transformation can be.
So what can organisations do better to blur internal lines and support external audiences better through change in future?
- Call out external audiences when defining the vision for change and success metrics up front, and include them in the change impact analysis
- Insist on collaboration between the people responsible for delivering the initiative and the business areas or individuals who own the impacted audience relationships
- Find ways to involve external audiences in consultation and testing to ensure processes and systems will be well adopted
- Make sure there is tight alignment between anyone communicating internally and externally at critical milestones
- Consider what training and support external audiences will need and how to get this information to the point of need
- Include adoption by external audiences in the change success metrics, and be prepared to course correct if needed
- Ensure business owners who must continue to embed the change feel empowered and resourced to do so
Click here to read about how we have helped our clients deliver innovative solutions for their change and transformation needs.
Making workplaces work better
Blue Seed is an organisational change consultancy that focuses on enabling the people side of business transformation – making workplaces work better. We deliver exceptional and lasting outcomes for emerging, disrupted and transforming organisations. When you work with Blue Seed Consulting, you’ll develop the organisational and individual change capabilities you need faster, and they’ll be sustainable. That’s because we know what it takes to adapt and change, and we intentionally represent those attributes and skills every day, making capability transfer a natural part of the process. Our Change Maturity Assessment, CQ Change Leadership Training and Change by Design Play Book are just a few of the ways we can support your organisation.
How can Blue Seed Consulting help?
At Blue Seed Consulting, we provide a comprehensive suite of services to guide your organisation through change, build your change capability and deliver results.
Change Maturity Accelerator Our service is designed to help your organisation gauge its change maturity, offering expert advice drawn from our diverse engagements across various industries.
Change Intelligence (CQ) Training Our CQ programs help executives, leaders and people to build their change intelligence. We equip them with the tools, strategies, and a sense of responsibility necessary for being a central part of your transformation journey.
Technology and Operating Model Implementation: We are experts in technology and operating model implementation. Our insights and advisory services equip executives to effectuate the seamless implementation of new tech and operating models. Read more about our work with ERP implementation here.
Change Advisory Services We partner with your C-suite executives and General Managers to guide significant organisational changes and transformations. Our advice on strategy and techniques aims to enhance strategic commitment and employee engagement during periods of ongoing change.
At Blue Seed, our commitment is to make businesses, like yours, more change-capable and prepared to navigate future landscapes. For more information, you’re welcome to reach out to us at +61 (0) 2 8231 6438 or via email at email@example.com