The need for change is higher than ever. However, in order to survive in competitive world, it is often the changes themselves that are causing problems instead of increasing value. It’s a paradoxical, and risky situation.
Research indicates that 50% to 70% of organizational change initiatives fail. Transformational change consultant, Ron Carucci accredits this largely to competing priorities, under resourcing and change fatigue. Although very relevant points, I’d add two more traps that put leadership in a bad position to enforce meaningful change.
Trap number one is the comfort zone. That beautiful time in a company when everything is seemingly running so well and smoothly that there is absolutely no need for change? Unfortunately, this is but a false horizon. You may be feeling true success for a fleeting moment, but if you’re not constantly questioning yourself, you’re sowing the seeds for your own downfall.
Trap number two is constant change. Not every trend is worth chasing, not every process is worth optimising. Leaders who promote changes every week based on a whim without any real consistency or thought, is just as bad as not promoting any changes at all.
Change is inevitable. Just look at how the COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world upside-down leaving businesses to scramble to find new ways of operating in a tumultuous time.
Businesses around the globe have been thrust in the world of remote working. For years remote working arrangements have been a nice-to-have, but now it’s a necessity. I believe companies will have a whole new kind of working environment opened for them they might not previously considered.
When crisis strikes, it is largely the organizations that have fostered a culture of change and disruption that keep swimming.
So, how can we create that culture of change?
When the disruption starts in the market, rather internally, often it’s too late to react, especially for enterprise-level companies. Think of Kodak, Blockbuster, and Compaq; all leaders in their sector before losing their market share.
An internal reflection, especially when things are doing well seems the right movement.
Two years ago, here at IC Thrive we challenged ourselves to review our purpose and mission in order to validate or change it. Even though the company was on a good trajectory, we decided it was time for change and increase our customer value proposition by pursuing a new strategy. This week we are very proud to launch the product of that change, an internal communication software tool, Reach.
At the time, we spent almost 5 months assessing the situation rather than coming up with solutions. We didn’t employ any strategic planning until we were satisfied with our strategic thinking.
So, go slow to speed up.
After months of planning, we had a firm plan to launch Reach to our customers, then to the public during the IABC World Conference in June.
But as the COVID-19 crisis grew, we were forced to change those plans. Firstly, the likelihood of the conference being cancelled became a real threat (eventually it was). Secondly, we realised that the world needed an internal communication tool right now to be able to connect with their workforce immediately, regardless of their location.
This is why we decided to offer Reach to all organizations free of charge during the COVID-19 pandemic to assist with crisis communication.
It’s not the grand launch we were planning, but we saw a need where we were able to give back and help.
Nothing in business is ever cast in stone, the more you are able to adapt to change, the more you will foster a culture that’s not afraid of change.
As in a crisis, uncertainties come with any type of change or disruption, and leaders should not ignore it.
Change is scary, whether it was something planned and implemented over a few months, or a situation that forced it. An internal communication process will allow employees to address doubts during the journey and feel safe even without an accurate answer.
A study that is not yet published, found that only 28% of employees felt connected to the purpose and identity of their organization. With so little support, how can any meaningful change be implemented if your employees aren’t behind you?
Internal communications and feedback channels shouldn’t just be an initiative that is just deployed during times of disruption or crisis. It’s an investment, and one that fosters resilience so that when change happens, be it strategic or forced, it’s a smooth and supported transition.
Interested in learning more? Here’s Marcelo’s advice on avoiding digital workflow pitfalls.