How I use this simple checklist to help me deploy a business transformation change and reduce culture resistance.
One sentence to describe a business transformation expert:
Someone that masters how to detect a problem, design a solution, create a deployment plan that ensures the new design is loved by all, presents real results and all of that in a killer time frame!
Well, experience has allowed me to sharpen the way I can do some of that and am always learning new things every time the scenario changes or stakeholders change.
However, some are constants in every scenario:
Any business transformation, whether it is a process change, a new product introduction, a new policy deployment, or any other business Improvement need, relies on people embracing it so the solution and new norm is sustainable.
Often, as a business transformation agent I'm called to help a client that just made a major investment in an external consulting firm through a transformation contract. Why on earth would they call another point of external support after a major investment, right? The truth is that unfortunately this happens often and typically has to do with flaws in the deployment plan: either it didn’t consider detractors, the timeline was too ambitious, the scope was greater than originally discussed and so many other little things that can result in cultural resistance, preventing a successful business change. Regardless, your client is left with a poor experience.
Since I am sure you, a fellow business transformation agent, don't wake up in the morning and decide “I am going to make my client hate the new process!”, I'm passing along my three lens approach that I typically consider and may help you in your next deployment.
So, if you are a business transformation consultant and find yourself in the last couple of weeks of contract where your client’s culture resists the new approach deployed by you, or, if you are a client ready to hire your next business consulting expert, here are some insights you may find useful to revisit:
1. Silo driven solution
If the change involves one department only, chances are that ramifications exist of the process being changed or the new product being introduced “touches” other departments processes and not everyone is aware of the new solution. The most shocking example of this I have ever witnessed was in the banking sector where an account manager was selling transactions in Japanese YEN and the Operations department didn’t have YEN available to process in their operating system! In sum, when you want to create a business solution and change, question if ALL the stakeholders are involved and who should bring inputs forward to ensure the new solution is inclusive of all department’s needs;
“If you are going to do TPS you must do it all the way. You also need to change the way you think. You need to change how you look at things.” — Taiichi Ohno
2. “Do as I say” solution
No one likes to be told what to do. Especially those that have been in a company for so long that know all the ins and outs of every process and know all the “exceptions” to the rules of the game. Especially those, but no one appreciates an external party coming in and bossing them around. This is for sure a big aspect of resistance to a new solution if people are not involved and part of the new designed approach. When you are being faced with resistance from process veterans, question if your approach is asking for their input. Chances are some will have insights you are not considering and should;
“Standards should not be forced down from above but rather set by the production workers themselves.” — Taiichi Ohno
3. “One size fits all” solution
Now, this is a favorite! How many times do you visit a commercial area, a financial area or a operations area and know that the consultants have been there but little to no effort was done to understand how the same process could and should be customized differently to each department's needs? A recent one was a visual management system in an insurance company, with intra day management opportunities, being left in a corner in both Commercial and Finance departments simply because the consultants, who witnessed a great embrace from Operations, simply copy/paste the solution to other areas! Knowing it was intra day management, does operations have the same rhythm as commercial or finance for that matter? So, if you are finding resistance in embracing change, ask yourself if the solution is customisable to different types of scenarios as it should.
These three lenses have been helping me and I hope it helps any fellow consultant or a client looking for a new business transformation expertise to consider some of this in their next contract.
Disclaimer: Apologies if some interpretations may offend a reader. I do rely on literal translation at times since English is a second language. My intention with this article is to spread awareness. I welcome your feedback to ensure I will not be constantly making the same errors in translation.
I also write about my own life ,professional experience and learning curve. I am a continuous improvement learner so I welcome you to share extra information and spread awareness with me if you have other ways of analyzing the same issues or you have value-added information to the readers of this article. Thank you for reading.