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Business Development, Economic Development, Organizational Development, Workforce

Implementing Fundamental and Systemic Change


While most businesses can visualize the long-term picture, the challenge is implementing tomorrow’s strategic goals with yesterday’s logic. The following are the challenges, in no particular order, I have observed in 30+ years of management:

1) Staffing: Recognizing that staffing talent and ability available today may not be what is required to make future programming objectives is easy. Re-staffing and/or training are key to embedding change into the business/organizational culture. If staff, vision, qualifications and capacity are not in line with the goals, then changes in the workforce must take place.  This is particularly true of those at the middle management level.

2) Products & Services: Products and services that are not performing are a drain on company resources.  An analysis of this part also will be impacted by workforce vision, ability, and capacity to see over the horizon.   This usually requires a change in the structure, reporting chain of command, decision-making process and removing or re-purposing older, established, non-performing products and services.

3) Funding: The revenue stream and its components also need to be reviewed and where necessary designed to meet the new goals. These changes are systemic and cause uncertainty.  A company’s toleration for implementing change at this level will be extremely conservative.  The decision to make fundamental change must be considered on the financial level as a priority.

4) Commitment: This is really the tough one. Once change begins, internal and external pressures will mount to hang on to sacred cows.  If allowed, these will drain the life from the future. The organizational structure must understand and be committed to embedding the new realities into the corporate culture.

5) Communications:  Often overlooked, strong, direct, and inclusive communications is critical to squashing rumors and misinformation.  Management must take this component seriously.  Nothing will undermine the initiative faster than poor or no communication.  Remember for the most part change is involving people and their lives.  The “troops” will be more committed if there is a clear understanding of where the change is taking the company and the people needed to get it there.

The issue is not the ability to visualize the end game; it is being committed to working through the vast number of details that emerge when the strategic outcomes shift.  The amount of time needed to make systemic changes to an organization’s structure, account for staffing change outs and required capacity can take 3-5 years.

Real, fundamental change, in business or a person’s life, relies not only on having a vision, but also on the willingness to change course, work through the difficulties that come with change and stay on target.

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February 2011
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