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Changes Done, Well

Change Done, Well

Changes Done Well Custerian

We all experienced (been involved in, or seen) changes that have worked, but often we have seen change done badly (we tend to remember those well) and those are the ones we tend to remember.

Change is a given, a bit like death and taxes, but now the PACE is unprecedented – it’s like a roller coaster of a life time

I often hear people saying well change is a constant, so we just have to embrace it and get on with it, that is certainly true of the last 7 months, however often we are really just adapting to changes that are happening rather than driving it or embracing it.

This is true often in work life and our personal lives. Most people don’t like change, as they want to do what they have always done, it feels safer and so on …. we have all read the book on the ‘emotions’ that people go through during change.

There are a few personality types that thrive on change, but that doesn’t mean they are all great at getting change done well – you have the idea makers (lots of different ideas (scope creep), the planners and updaters (they love excel, to do lists) and the deliverers (who just want to get on and do it, hate all the talk, let’s just crack on).

Leading Significant Change is not for the faint hearted – as you have to be designer, negotiator, counsellor, planner, coach, auditor, communicator, motivator.

Covid created a ‘Burning platform’ – but it doesn’t necessarily mean it was done well.


Recently through discussions with various business leaders I have heard stories about how at the start of Covid there were significant challenges that had to be overcome, quickly and
that the teams: rallied together; were creative; focussed; resilient and got the tasks in hand done with a huge sense of pride.

From setting up homeworking, getting premises changes made, ramping up resources – for those businesses who have thrived (eg. online, distribution, food).

However, some of this now needs to be reviewed, as part of the future operating model not just a ‘temp fix’ – there are conversations about how inefficient or too costly some of these solutions may have been, or that for some it’s not sustainable.

Digital leaders – this put them on a pedestal – this became the only channel or the ‘promoted channel (not always best for the customer) this had a huge step up in focus. Many digital projects fast tracked and delivered from concept to production in a matter of weeks, some of which had been fighting for attention for months, even years.

So why don’t changes get done? Or done well?

In my personal experience, and our teams experience when working with companies whether that be for kick starting an existing change, or a new change there are many reasons as to why change fails from: cultural; leadership; governance; lack of focus; resources; skillsets; inadequate support, too complex, and many more.

However based on a recent poll that I did: 50% said this was due to inadequate change leadership; 25% due to the Purpose and Outcomes not being clear; 17% poor planning, 8% due to lack of engagement or support.

Adapting something should be simple, and often is, little adaptions feel easier. Changing is much more challenging but not impossible – often we make the change impossible


Change should be delivered with PACE, and this is not about the methodology you are using, which could be agile, prince and other methods. Using PACE framework is at the start, throughout and the end of change – ensuring that you have done this with PACE.

So, I will explain a bit more about this.

Custerian 4 P's approach

Purpose – creating a clear sense of why we are doing something – it’s about creating understand (if we understand it, we will get it quicker) – the reasons as to WHY we need to change. What’s the problem / opportunity? What do you want to achieve (objectives/outcomes), how would you describe once you have achieved it (Vision).

Agility – often mistaken for getting on with something quickly. That isn’t what working with agility is about. That would be like saying right we need to run ….. setting off running before you heard the end of the brief ! You still need a clear purpose, the journey of how you are going to get from A to D (depending on the change, this doesn’t always need a detailed line by line plan), break it down into bite sized chunks of time (so in the next 2-3 weeks we need to), and then having the ability to quickly react, adapt and evolve in response to circumstances – which maybe a business need, the effects of part of the change, or user research.

Contribution – three things are important about contribution.

1. Change Lead/Owner – at the outset it is important to define who is the change owner, some companies are calling this a Product Owner – this is the person who is accountable for making the change happen – they are there to who is going to give support, break down the barriers, galvanise the team. They are the Change Lead and Champion, typically there are less than 10% of people in businesses who can fulfil this role – this isn’t the project manager! Someone with a successful track record of delivering change, well.

2. Getting the Right Contribution at the Right Time, so who needs to be in the team? and when ? SME’s, partners, suppliers, who is the change impacting? What are their persona types – how do we get their input & involvement? Identifying some of this at the discovery sessions, and then ensuring you are reviewing this throughout for the weeks ahead.

3. Governance – where do you need to update or get contributions from the wider
business ?

Empowerment – often leaders and teams make the mistake of saying off you go you are empowered to make this change happen, or even worst just assuming the team knows what they can and can’t do.

It is important at the outset to decide what level of empowerment it warrants ?

a. Tame problem/Minor step change – something you can just let people sort it out

b. Wicked problem / new product – lots of collaboration to master the resolution or delivery

c. Critical – to the survival of the business, product line growth – important that someone take the lead and tells the team what they need to do now, next

and then what level of support do the team, members require…

 

So if you want change done well, remember PACE: Purpose, Agility, Contribution, Empowerment or if you have a struggling change programme or project – in order of priority CPAE ! 

Often an Outside In view can help – to get a fresh set of eyes, a different perspective, not teams who are familiar with your ways of working. 

That is why our clients get in touch with Custerian to work with a clients teams to get the right stuff done, brilliantly !

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The Ultimate Burning Platform – How did you do?

The Ultimate Burning Platform – How did you do?

Let me start this article by saying that it should be read in the context of business impact as a result of the global pandemic. Many of us have had to deal with it at a personal level and for far too many the consequence has been awful. Here I am reflecting on it in our work lives only.

How we react to difficult situations is dependent on a lot of factors, not least of which is level of preparedness. But despite the sudden nature of this event, many have achieved remarkable things in a very short space of time, whilst others have floundered. This is what I’d like to explore here.

How do some make good decisions and others do not?

For me it starts with clarity of purpose. For many, COVID created a very clear and collective need to dramatically alter how we worked.

Getting anything right takes time?

So we like principles such as Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point because it resonates with us.

The feeling that nothing worth having comes easily, and even the most gifted have had to work hard (10+ years) to get a top quartile result. It just makes sense…. does it not?

Now that leads to a thought which I have been having a ponder on, which is – what sits at the heart of people who excel Vs those that don’t – besides 10 years of effort, and I think it is to do with Volume & Risk.

Those that do well have a clear goal (Purpose – be the world’s fastest/best) and work towards it in a series of small steps that allow for reflection, refinement and adjustment.

Custerian Model | Better Decision Making

Essentially, in my view, the way to get things done, is to do things. And today that means operating top right of this model. Making short iterative steps (using Agile New Ways of Working) to create and inform as you go.

But making decisions is risky?

I suspect that people who excel, do a lot more things than those that don’t. But I think there is another consideration other than volume, which is they are perceptive on the risk they are taking.

Now we know those that excel are capable of taking bold decisions. But I think this is also a function of the fact that they simply make more decisions, so have a better sense of what works, and what does not.

Of course, if they get it wrong, they simply iterate again.

So, we all just need to make more decisions?

The model above is underpinned by a couple of pre-conditions that affect the context (and again it is often the context we operate in that makes or breaks an outcome).

Risk Vs Volume – Historically there have been very good reasons to keep decision making ‘contained’ and that is because the consequence of getting it wrong was high. Either though the cost that was incurred, or the scale of effort involved in backing out. But that’s changing, due, in part to a fundamental shift in IT…

Business Vs Consumer Power – This is about how fast things were expected to change, and again historically business could move faster than consumers requirements, so expectations across a broad range of services could be set and met by the supplier. Clearly this has, and is changing dramatically – from business to consumer…

A thought for you – Do more ‘stuff’

So, my opening premise is that people who achieve things, do so by making more decisions, which creates an innate feel for backing more winners than losers (plus as they make more decisions they get better at ‘big’ decision making, because they don’t appear as big!).

Even better, it’s getting easier

Look around the various ‘insight’ streams that we all subscribe to, and you will see a growth in things like Agile Thinking. Articles like this one by Ryan Holmes of Hootsuite, which prompted me to write this. Thoughts from Elon Musk about using First Principles to challenge preconceptions about how things are done.

What these all say, to me, is that the relative ‘risk’ of any decision is falling, so you can make more as long as you adopt the right (new) ways of Agile/Accelerated working – Now please note all my thinking is prefaced with the statement that to be in business you need a clear Purpose, against which customers and colleagues can align themselves to deliver your commercial goals.

More importantly, because Customers are becoming more Socially/Technically’ empowered, you do need to pick up the pace of activity, or else you may find yourself playing catch up with the (customer driven) ever changing face of your own business.

It can’t be that easy. Can it?

Just because something is simple, does not make it easy. So please don’t think I am advocating that business is getting easier (believe me – it does not feel it). But what I do feel is that a number of things are lining up which mean the ‘context’ for meeting the challenge of change is less risky than it used to be.
Perhaps the biggest single driver of this lowered risk profile, is the movement of technology from inhibitor to enabler as I will discuss in another blog!

By Simon Norie - Co-Founder & Empathy Creation Specialist
Data led Board level Brand marketeer. Passionate about aligning Colleagues to a common purpose they can contribute too. www.custerian.com