AT A GLANCE
- Change management is adopting the cultural mindset of an organization to a radical change to ensure a smooth transition.
- Resistance to change and culture-related issues were two significant roadblocks to successful implementation.
- Since no two companies are alike, one must design a customized approach for each business transformation project.
Over the years, business transformation programs have become increasingly common. That said, research tells us that most change efforts fail to achieve their goals. Organizational transformation is notoriously difficult to carry out, after all. Project managers underestimate the task; employees resist, management lacks support. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Tan Ergen, Consulting Operations Director of Maven Insights & Solutions, says that there are ways to effectively altering the way people think and act.
Tan has been in the consulting industry for two decades. He specializes in strategy implementation, business transformation, corporate performance management, program management, and operational & organizational improvement. He manages the internal development and administrative aspects of Maven Insights & Solutions, acting as an internal SME in multiple subjects, overseeing the team’s operations, and leading some critical engagements.
DO YOU REMEMBER WHAT TRIGGERED YOUR INTEREST IN CHANGE MANAGEMENT?
During the early years of my career, I was involved in several business transformation projects. Those experiences taught me that resistance to change and culture-related issues were two significant roadblocks to successful implementation.
“Resistance to change and culture-related issues were two significant roadblocks to successful implementation.”
As consultants, we were able to solve technical problems. However, we kept spending far more time dealing with human-related issues. Until the entire organization was willing and ready to change, the transformation simply did not take place. At that point, I realized that change management is as equally -if not more- critical as technical knowledge.
WHAT IS YOUR DEFINITION OF CHANGE MANAGEMENT?
In straightforward terms, change management is adopting the cultural mindset of an organization to a radical change to ensure a smooth transition.
“Change management is adopting the cultural mindset of an organization to a radical change to ensure a smooth transition.”
The change could come in many shapes of forms: organization re-design, digitization of processes, downsizing, or even as a sharp variance in strategic direction. Change management enables the organization to be ready, willing, and adaptable to change.
WHY IS CHANGE MANAGEMENT CRITICAL, ESPECIALLY IN BUSINESS TRANSFORMATION?
There are plenty of globally-accepted business transformation methodologies, frameworks, and tools. Those are the big guns that would help you deal with the technical requirements of the transformation efforts.
However, it is the human aspect that defines whether the efforts will succeed or not. The frameworks, methodologies, and tools you use would not work unless they are successfully implemented and utilized by the organization.
“Ultimately, it is the human aspect that determines whether your business transformation efforts would succeed or not.”
That’s where change management comes to attention; It effectively boosts the organization’s acceptance of and willingness to change.
BASED ON YOUR EXPERIENCE, WHERE DID YOU SEE THE NECESSITY OF A CHANGE MANAGEMENT PRACTICE?
I would like to give you two examples from my past, which shaped my current mindset on this topic.
First, a family business hired us to help them transform into a more structured corporation. Business owners were ready for this transformation, but two critical functional managers were very resistant to this program. They had fears about their fate within the organization.
Then, there was another case where we were running a transformation program for a major trading company (also a family-owned business). The design of the new systems was a huge success. That said, it required switching of responsibilities between the two founding partners. One of them was willing and supportive of our design, whereas the other was quite emotional, presenting a big challenge at that time.
Those two examples helped me realize the importance of change management practices.
SO, HOW DID YOU APPROACH THOSE ISSUES BACK THEN?
For the first case, we spent extra time with the two troubled managers. We carefully explained how both of them and the company would be better off. We walked them through our best and worst-case scenarios. We also made the company owner demonstrate to them how much he is counting on them to succeed.
That approach worked well, as the two managers are still with the same company, in their designated roles.
As per the second case, with the supportive partner’s assistance and guidance, we approached the concerned partner and clarified why we came up with that specific design.
We also prepared a comprehensive communication plan explaining the transition to the entire organization. Although the concerned partner still felt hesitant, he gave the green light to implement our design.
At the end of that year, they enjoyed a 2% increase and an 80% reduction in their net profits and late receivables, respectively.
WE ARE AWARE THAT MAVEN INSIGHTS AND SOLUTIONS HAS A PROPRIETARY APPROACH TO CHANGE MANAGEMENT. CAN YOU PLEASE ELABORATE IT A LITTLE BIT?
That is one of the hottest topics we work on. At Maven, we always capture and evaluate lessons from our engagements while continuously checking and adapting new methodologies to improve ourselves. So, our approach continuously improves!
Since no two companies are alike, we design a customized approach for each of our cases. That said, for any transformation engagement, we start by identifying the critical phases where we will need change management practices.
“Since no two companies are alike, we design a customized approach for each of our cases.”
Then, we design a high-level change management plan. Our plan’s details unravel as we move on to the subsequent phases of the transformation (i.e. organizational culture, dominant values, critical stakeholders, opinion leaders, etc.).
Besides those qualitative observations, we also apply objective and analytical methodologies like organizational surveys, people analytics practices, and organizational network analysis (ONA). Those analyses give us an idea about which change management tools and we should apply. Now that we know the organization’s details, we plan a detailed transformation approach based on the outcomes of our analyses.
Applying an effective communication plan and culture alignment initiatives are critical in succeeding with a smooth transition. Those are the fixed aspects of our change management practices, regardless of the case.
Finally, we support checking the effects of the change management practices and suggest improvement plans to our clients if required.