All posts filed under: Transformation

Agitation: Step 1 in building a purposeful culture

You can’t and shouldn’t change a culture just for the sake of it. Obvious, right? And yet managers often announce change programmes without referencing and quantifying specific motivations. There’s little doubt that people act more positively and decisively when they are presented with a context for actions. A real context. A pain point they can feel. An opportunity that stares them in the eye and says “Come get me”. So often, the reasons given for changing a culture are far too broad. They’re couched around concepts or theory – productivity gains or the need to downsize or an economic change of fortune. The thing is, none of those reasons sound like reasons. They sound like excuses or, worse, prompts. They’re mantras not motives. In this wonderful article courtesy of Bain & Co, authors Patrick Litre and Kevin Murphy trace the ups and downs of the traditional change programme: Specifically, the Agitation stage of a culture change programme needs to address the three change resistors that cause that significant dip at the start: •  Anchoring locks …

Evolution or transformation? 17 key brand factors

No business these days can just sit pretty. But the extent and nature of changes confuses many. Brands evolve. Or die. But they must also retain something of what consumers know. Or they fade. So which is more important? And how should a brand act, when? I get asked about this a lot. So here are my takes on what must stay and what can go (sometimes): Keep: 1. Your good name (in every sense) – it’s the thing people know you by. Unless of course you need to re-engineer your reputation or your old name doesn’t fit what you do anymore. 2. Your purpose – the ways you intend to change the world should remain an inspiring constant for staff and customers (providing it’s inspiring to start with, of course) 3. Your values – only change them if you’re going to make them more challenging 4. Your promises – trust is the basis for any brand’s success. Without that, you’re nothing. 5. Your principles – in today’s transparent markets, transgressions will be discovered. It’s …

30 things you should tell employees before you change the culture

By Mark Di Somma What sort of information should decision makers share with employees as an organisation prepares to go through a significant cultural shift? These are my thoughts sized in digestible chunks. Order of course may vary. 1.   The future that we now see for the organisation 2.   How we discovered that we needed to change 3.   How quickly we need to change 4.   Why we need to make changes at that pace 5.   How the new vision changes what the organisation intends to achieve 6.   Where our new priorities lie 7.   How this will change the ways we behave 8.   How this will change the ways we compete 9.   How this will change the ways we work 10. How this will change the ways you work 11. How we will now judge success 12. What we think the chances of success are 13. What we will be doing to stack the odds in our favour 14. Where we will be looking to make changes first 15. How far changes will extend …

The future myth

Transformation isn’t about plotting a meeting point for your brand with the predicted future. It’s not about getting to where the puck will be, to paraphrase Wayne Gretsky. Because depending on the arrival of the next big thing or that breaking wave, that hot new trend, the long-awaited demographic or anything else for that matter is conjecture. Banking on it is simply speculation. To evolve successfully, brands must grow out of what they have into what they need to be. They cannot shape the future. They can only shape their future. That is what they have control of. That is what they are responsible for. The customers they take with them into the future. The actions they drive in the future. The products they will make. The culture they build for the future. All strategists and decision makers can and should read out of the macro-trends, and even the supposedly “specific” future trends for that matter, are the broad indicators of the change that’s coming and perhaps a sense of where it might be coming …

The global challenge of doing business openly

Congratulations to All Good Organics, the first New Zealand company to make the prestigious Ethisphere Institute’s World’s Most Ethical (WME) companies list. All Good may be tiny but this ranking puts them in some great company – one of just 145 companies, chosen from more than 5000 entries. Judge for yourself. In the light of this win, interesting to read Raz Godelnik’s take on the difference that CSR actually makes for companies in this post on TriplePundit: A MIT Sloan Management Review and BCG survey showed 40% of executives polled believed the greatest benefit to an organisation in addressing sustainability was “improved brand reputation”. Godelnik goes on to cite evidence that CSR initiatives help companies retain stock value when facing corporate governance scandals and product recalls, and that firms viewed as having weak CSR suffered stock declines twice the size of firms viewed as having strong CSR after riots surrounding 1999 WTO meetings in Seattle. While consumers might not be willing to pay higher prices for greener products, he says, they will more likely purchase …

Talking a culture through change

Change programs are so often about actions. So much so in fact that the dialogue that surrounds and informs those changes can be dismissed as “just talk”. Time and time again, in working on transformation projects, I have faced an uphill battle in trying to persuade decision makers to give their proposed changes the air-time that staff need to talk over and through what’s happening. But such talk is vital. Actions really do speak louder with words – and they do so because they allow people to come together and to work through what is happening. Change presented on a slidedeck is change imposed. Change discussed in forums over time, and with a built-up understanding of its implications and opportunities, is change absorbed and applied. Further than that though, language has a huge role to play in the bedding in of new ways of doing things. Language actually defines a culture because it is literally how people connect – changing it significantly shifts the parameters of, and the context for, what is defined, accepted and …

Can you innovate too quickly?

What is the right pace for a brand to transform in an iterative economy? So often we’re told that success will stem from pushing the innovation accelerator flat to the floor. As proof, we hear about those companies that failed to innovate or didn’t respond quickly enough – and were buried. But is that true? Is innovation just about turnover, or is it more complicated than that? Where should brands take their cues – from their own development programmes, from their competitors, from the media, from their own marketing demands? Where do you look for prompts when you have new work in the wings? There’s a theory for this (of course) – diffusion of innovation. It revolves around two key aspects: an adoption process that generates critical mass (a.k.a the bell curve); and Professor Everett Rogers’ five influential factors concerning take-up: Relative advantage – how much better the innovation is than its predecessor Compatibility – how easily the innovation can be assimilated into everyday life Complexity – how easy or difficult the innovation is to …

Seeing past the problem

By Mark Di Somma Every transformation programme I have ever worked on has been set in motion by a problem. And in every case the issue that has galvinised action and that everyone is so focused on answering is not the real problem at all. As Simon Sinek has observed, people intuitively deal with what they know before they deal with the things they don’t know or feel less comfortable dealing with. The easiest question, and the place most people start is “what?” They deal first with the symptoms they can see and quantify. And often they address them with a “how” that is equally familiar – the methodology they always use. But while a particular problem may have set off the trip-wire, in reality that problem is probably a symptom of what’s really happened rather than the real cause. It’s the prompt. And just having a way to address that problem does not guarantee any quality of answer. It simply provides a process for everyone to map to. Do you know the lovely story …

Crunching on cacti

An airbrushed problem is not an easier problem to solve. In many ways, it’s actually much more difficult because the nature and extent of the problem itself is encoded in euphemisms, which usually means that the potential impact is also encrypted. I call these deflections and understatements “icing the cactus”. Generally, they involve playing up the momentary nature of what has happened (“unseasonal”, “untimely”), playing down the likely effects (with words like “blimp” and “unfortunate”) and playing off one action or group against another (“there’s no doubt it would have worked if …”) Personally, I’ve always held with the Stockdale paradox: that organisations need to present issues frankly and without blinking, at the same time as they must utterly believe in their ability to be resolved. You can’t fully solve what you don’t fully know, and therefore what you are prepared to fully admit to. Actually, problem solving itself is a misnomer – because the problem itself is seldom the problem. The real problems are usually the attitudes, mindsets, blindsides, denials, assumptions and stupidities that …

Transformation secrets: Please don’t try to change your brand

Change is on everyone’s mind at this time of year – or more particularly people are preoccupied with resolutions of change. Hopes of transformation fly high. But most of us will lapse from whatever pledges we make, not because we don’t really want to change necessarily but because the habit of what we have done or know well is too comfortable for change to endure. Companies are no different. As Professor Robert Sull put it so well back in 1999 in a paper titled “Why Good Companies Go Bad”, organisations, just like individuals, tend to snub the transformation they really need to decisively shift their reputation or market share in favour of persisting with established patterns of behaviour that they are comfortable with. Sull dubbed this phenomenon not just as inertia but as “active inertia”, because companies keep themselves busy with activities that, conciously or not, are often directed away from the transformation they claim to want and towards variations of business as usual. Professor Sull’s point was that such sustained patterns of behaviour degrade …