Throughout the millions of years of its existence, Nature has demonstrated that evolution is a mandatory element for survival.
It, therefore, comes to no surprise that man, and the activities he manages, need to relate to this phenomenon too! …extending across to ‘business organizations’.
Immaterial of the size or type of operations, any organization must be well prepared for carefully undertaking an evolution process to reflect the ‘sign-of-the-times’. Some degree of flexibility and agility are therefore key ingredients to sustainable success. Generally, larger (more mature) organizations may find it more difficult to cater respond to such flexibility needs when compared to smaller (younger) organizations.
This need to evolve swiftly is generally brought about by our selves – us, as consumers.
Consumer trends are clear: we want more, faster, cheaper, and above all, to higher expectations. The net result is that we, as consumers, have become pretty much like ‘monsters’: hungry, wanting more of everything, better specification, higher quality, immediate!
…the challenges for competitiveness become a nightmare. Failing to keep up means you risk driving your business into mediocrity, very fast. What is worse, social media makes it so easy for people to say just “how bad you are”!
Business evolution is, therefore, a mandatory success factor. If the evolution process cannot keep up with the demands, then we may need to consider even more aggressive approaches. At times, radical transformation becomes necessary for an organization to re-align itself with trending business demands.
Business ideas need to be generated, developed and materialized through innovative and creative initiatives, drive, funding and empowerment.
What Makes Your Organization Tick
There are a number of elements upon which any organization is generally dependent for it to operate as a whole. Each of these elements plays a vital role in its smooth operational activities, and need to be managed with care and attention.
Defined Methodologies – No organization can sustain success if it operates in a state of randomness.
Proper Tools – So much can be jeopardized if attempting to do work with the wrong tool set.
Setting (physical environment, social) – Physical and social environments are two elements that make the setting. The tangible physical setting may generally be regulated by the business sector (for example: pharmaceutical, electronics, food & beverage, aeronautical, marine, oil & gas, etc.), and therefore more controllable. The social setting may not be an area that any sector can regulate too easily, but the happiness and wellbeing of employees can make or break the whole setting.
People (skills, knowledge, capability, happiness, motivation, wellbeing, cared, belonging, ownership, understanding) – The capability to match the right skills for the activities, and maintaining an empowered workforce is an achievement in itself. Some organizations may struggle when it comes to communicating their vision, mission and strategic objectives in a clear enough manner to reach all of their people – endangering full engagement. Ownership is a big word. Encouraging your people to own their job responsibilities is a formula for success.
Lifeblood (data/information, physical material) – We can generally visualize that the flow of material, data and information are what energizes any organization. Just like blood drives oxygen through our bodies. Interrupt this flow, and you are in big trouble. Introduce pollutants into the stream (biased or non-factual data) and get ready for some serious consequences.
Performance Measure – Know where you are, where others are and where you want to be. Get there through initiatives based on the right level of information and analysis. Enable decisions to be taken based on uncluttered facts.
Whilst evolution is generally gradual are more controllable, often, undertaking a transformation of any type or size, can be considered rather risky, and fearful by many – and this includes executive management. One cannot entirely blame this anxiety. We have seen so many organizations fall because they were not well prepared to undertake transformation. The changes brought about by organizational transformation can be quite significant.
Organizational transformation is not only about organizational restructuring, or process reengineering. That may well be the easiest, and most fun part, of the project!
The more delicate factors may be less tangible than reorganizing the definition of the structure, or process redesign, reengineering or streamlining. We must be highly sensitive to matters that are typically related to people, culture, skills-matching, and timing.
Bear in mind that any transformation initiative will at some point or other affect the way people do things, the way people need to think, reason and act. With people, comes culture – what works for one company may not work for another. Every organization (and department, in each organization!) has its own distinct ‘culture’, which needs to be factored in when managing the transformation process.
People also mean skills by which they get their activities done. Getting through the evolution may generally also mean reviewing the talent-mix and capability of your people. Whilst many may be prepared to learn and broaden their proficiencies, others may be less receptive – and we have seen this resistive effect also being demonstrated by the most senior of executives in some organizations.
Rushing changes into place may not quite be the right approach at times. Psychologists state that, unlike popular belief, man can actually handle a high level of change. Two factors that work against this statement are generally the way the change is presented, and the timing allowed for the change to be undertaken through. Allowing the change to happen gradually over a suitable period of time generally works well in favour of organizational transformation – planning is key.
We generally find that change managers often overlook this factor. This may be the symptom of haste and pressures that may be coming from other directions, thereby forcing any planning to be squashed into, occasionally, ridiculous time frames.
Making It Happen
Evolution and transformation initiatives need careful and up-to-date strategic planning.
However, clever planning and exhaustive strategies alone will not deliver results. Implementation and execution of the plan is what does!
This demands the will to get things done, appropriate resources, sufficient funds, sensible time, the right tools and equipment, and so many other interdependent elements.
Any plans drawn need to be maintained as living documents. We need to be capable of revising these plans in a controlled and agile manner in order to accommodate situations arising along the way. There is no point in implementing a rigid plan that, 3 years down the line, produces out-of-date deliverables.
Lean and agile project management techniques play the trick in successful achievement of desired results, which are current at the time of implementation.
BEAT has many years of experience managing transformation within different organizations, and manages projects of large dimensions. We have successfully seen projects start off from nothing more than ideas. These concepts have been incubated and seen through materialization into successful ventures. We have seen private and public organizations undertake the challenge of evolution and transformation – resulting in successful turnarounds of the business activity, improved quality service levels and better profitability. Over the years, each case has been a learning experience for all parties, and possibly that is what made us who we are today.
The individual needs of the various organizations we work with vary greatly. But the concept remains one: we are passionate about making business concepts and processes work out for our clients.
by Ing. Joseph Micallef, Chief Operations Officer / Partner at BEAT Limited