FAQ's on Change Management
Tell us what is it you do and what is your USP?
I drive and implement change in organisations that want to improve the 'next level' or who currently are experiencing poor performance that is not in tune with their capabilities or their potential.
My USP is that I have some unique and specialised tools for driving change and speedily improving performance. What I bring to any business is accuracy, analysis, and speedy of diagnosis of problems with an ability to align with business challenges and work closely with people.
Tell me about your typical organisational change management intervention?
It is usually customised and tailored to a particular problem being experienced by the client. Examples include, reviewing business strategy, corporate culture, undertaking a customer review and managing the implementation of organisational change. There’s always a strong business case for my intervention and at this time the top team recognise that serious action has been taken.
If undertaking research, I’ll interview the top team first to gauge specific viewpoints and reactions and also run top team direct reports through similar sessions. Speed of analysis and implementation is important. I always provide several options and ensure I see through implementation personally.
I see little point in undertaking an analysis and then fail to implement a resolution. I will work with a designated staff or teams. I can take difficult decisions that 'internal change managers' may not be able to take.
How do you undertake an organisational analysis or cultural audit?
I don’t make any assumptions about the business. I work directly with top team members and their direct reports. I use my own methodology based on soft cultural and hard, tangible performance issues. I design questionnaires, interview key stakeholders, run focus groups, design and discuss initial rfeedback from which I produce a detailed report and feed it back to the top team or the executive group responsible for taking action.
Culture Drives Results
I find that many people still have difficulty understanding culture and how it directly impacts performance. I develop a very tangible diagnosis that is easily understood, appraise the culture of the business against its 'current performance' and the potential 'desired performance' and then develop a map to bridge that gap.
How do you undertake strategic reviews?
Strategic reviews include scenario planning, customer reviews, competitor, vulnerability and strategic analysis. It is important to work closely with all professional groupings to understand the dynamics of what drives the strategic direction of the business. This is true in any sector, public, private or third sector.
I find that there is sometimes a wide variance in strategic vision between organisational functions with Operations having ‘drivers’ which are very different to those of Customer Management, Finance, Sales and Marketing.
The important thing is to bring the team together to look at the’ disconnects’ and the ‘synergies’. I use my variant of vulnerability analysis and other strategic models and tools to make this happen quickly.
What are your unique perspective on organisation development (OD)?
I think OD is seriously misunderstood. True, OD is the application of the tools of the behavioural sciences to resolving problems in a business. To me OD has to be very tangible and actually impacts and cause the business to improve. If your OD intervention fails to improve customer management and retention and performance of people and the business then why commit to it?
OD should not be an academic exercise but a real attempt to partner with business leaders to improve business metrics. The worst example I have had of the misinterpretation of OD was when it was confused with O&M and work measurement.
You Consulting work spans a multitude of core disciplines – how is that possible?
There are so many instances of being recruited to resolve one problem – e.g. quality, to find that the real problem is not quality but rather a failure to commit to a tangible strategic direction with valid, accurate and measured business plans.
Over the years, the interventions in which I have been engaged have been fairly complex, requiring a number of specialist and integrated inputs. Having a Business Economics and Behavioural background is very important in helping me design change strategies that work. It works well for my clients in terms of the returns they enjoy.
How important is leadership in the corporate culture?
It is central and critical to improvement – I say that without leadership, there is no change and this is definitely true. You know, I can often go into an organisation invited to assess strategy and find that very few people are owning and driving that strategy. The team may have a business plan but there are sometimes just a few strong or committed enough to take responsibility to seeing it through to completion.
Focused Leadership Drives Change
I can tell straight away if there is enough focused leadership in a business and the answer to the question – can you have too much leadership – is a resounding no! I have yet to find an organisation that suffers from too much leadership.
I have found many with rudderless businesses – or a ‘pig headed’ management team that pursue their own selfish goals – but aligned leadership is the best kept secret to drive change. When the business starts rewarding people for leading strategic projects that change the shape of the business for the better - you can believe you are on for a winner.
What is your view on corporate values and mission statements?
They have to be tangible and live. If it is worthless slogans printed on coffee cups and tee shirts then it’s a waste of time. I much prefer the philosophy of high impact, low profile. Plesae don't start telling customers how great your service is until you have improved your business and they really nootice the difference which translates into “don’t start telling people how great you are until you have actually changed the business, so enough people and customers notice.” That’s what I mean by low profile. Forget the PR, just get on and do something that takes us nearer to our goals.
Focusing on, taking action and ensure that people are rewarded by doing things that improve performance.
What is the most important factor in bringing about change?
Take decisive action. Develop an implementation plan – and align responsibilities to measured accountable deadlines.
How do you go about designing and installing performance management culture?
Honesty is central. If managers cannot be honest with their staff, there is little mutual trust and people end up telling each other, their staff and managers, what they want to hear.
Of course, we need to relate performance to a strategic plan but this has to be done in a very systematic manner with core deliverables defined in process and functional terms. Most things that make a difference to an organisation are getting people to work efficiently across functional boundaries.
It is a matter of defining strategic imperatives; align these with operational goals, which can be further broken down into work unit objectives. But honesty or lack of it is at the core of the problem – if people cannot discuss poor performance, give good and bad news, then there is a real problem.
How do you ensure that change takes place and is implemented?
We always need a sound analysis accepted by the top team. Once problems are defined, then we can set about designing implementation plans which end up in business plans, performance standards, targets and team norms.
How do you work with internal consultants or trainers?
Agree an agenda and deliverables. Agree expectations precisely and what is to be delivered and how it will be measured. Again, you have to be flexible. Support each other. Understand there are political powers at work. Believe it or not there may be 'mischief-makers' and others who do not share your positive optimism for implement change. Above all protect the internal change agent from potential reverberations.
What is important to you in an effective client relationship?
Honesty and authenticity are central. The egos of managers are reflected in 'turf wars' and 'empire building' - which is often counter to the agenda for change. Egos are definitely central in hindering change. People with strong personal ego are more interested in their career, their next job or something which is not really related to business performance. These underlying issues and conflicts really need to be managed.
I want to work with clients who have a passion for improvement. That’s where I get my drive and motivation.
How do you typically go about designing a L&D or training intervention?
Assess the business problem or challenge which underpins the training need. It is important to work very quickly on identifying the core competency of the business and wants standing in the way of progress. Only by doing that and talking action will enable the problem to go away. I am not talking about a big complex exercise.
I like to focus on the core behaviours once trained and installed in key people, when practised and honed to perfection, can move the organisation away from the problem and lead to speedy business improvement.
How do you design experiential and learning exercises?
Talk me through the history and entirety of the problem. Let me talk to the key people who work with the problem and have to fix it. Let me interview people who are responsible for that problem and the people who suffer most from the consequences. Let me assess this against the key drivers and business plans and let me propose ideas to take positive action.
For instance, I design a series of exercises which can be used in conference or workshop format for small teams of 6 people to large groups of 500. Precise design of what the event or the process is set to achieve is critical. All my energy is then expended on addressing the issue experienced, not the symptom, but the cause of the problem.
Do you use psychometrics often?
Yes all varieties and in many interventions from Leadership to Mentoring and Coaching. I use 16pf5+ to Myers Briggs, Firo B etc to OPQ and a variety of other profiles. I find psychometrics are pivotal in removing the blocks in Coaching assignments, and are central in Executive Search and useful in Leadership development and Performance Management. I have used psychometrics for over 25 years and must have worked with many thousands of people in a variety of settings helping them improve their performance and achieve their potential.
Do you provide remote consulting?
It sounds unusual but I do. I can create an approach, a strategy or a structured activity very quickly. I do create training and experiential exercises, learner and trainer packs to meet very precise needs. Recently, I wrote a package on Matrix Management for the HR Director of a Hotel Chain to deliver to the European top team in Italy,
I wrote a teambuilding exercise for a National Examination Institute that featured in large workshops managed by their own internal consultants who presented to over 100 people in each session. That was all achieved remotely and electronic creation and transfer of materials, trainer notes, workshop plans, manuals and learning packs
Last month I designed an Engagement strategy and created a detailed workbook on Engagement tools for a NHS Trust. Only in the past few weeks I developed a presentation on Virtual Teams and delivered it to over 90 people. I will continue with this 'remote' design and delivery because it presents a novel challenge for me to ask the right questions and work closely with my clients.
I wrote a teambuilding exercise for a public body that featured in large workshops managed by internal consultants and presented to over 100 people in each session.
Last month I designed an Engagement strategy and designed a detailed workbook on Engagement tools for a Health authority. Only in the past few weeks I developed a presentation on Virtual Teams and delivered it to over 90 people. I will continue with this work because it presents a novel challenge and has to be delivered in a short time span.
How do you create a sales culture?
We need to get away from the belief that there are customer facing staff and others who spend all their time inwardly looking. In my world, those who are not directly customer facing directly should support those who do.
Examine the behaviours that will promote a sales culture and train the hell out of people so they are aware when they are adding to a value stream through serving the customer.
We need to get away from people understanding that there is no such role as administration – it is all about contributing to a value stream that improves the customer and shareholder value.
How can we save more money in a recession and reduce our overheads?
Focus on quality improvement tools and seek the root cause of rework and waste. I use similar tools used by Toyota in their quest to become a top quality business. I focus on continuous and relentless improvement.
I usually have an agreement of percentage savings based on a tangible return to improved business and increased customer retention. If you want to look at ways to improve your control of costs - look at the Economics of Culture Change››
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