In today’s fast-paced marketplace, business change is becoming commonplace. Causes for change can include everything from digital transformation to customer demand.
Companies that embrace change can evolve, survive, and thrive.
Those that don’t usually get outpaced by more nimble competitors.
Today’s fast-paced economy is pressuring many companies to adapt. But before even thinking about change, it pays to understand this topic from the ground up.
Let’s start by looking at what drives changes in the first place.
What Are the Reasons Behind Business Change?
Whether the causes of change are internal or external, one truth remains constant – companies that don’t evolve don’t last.
Causes of a transformation can include:
- Digital transformation
- Mergers and acquisition
- Customer needs
- Technological changes
- Gaining a competitive advantage
- Growth potential
Clearly, the causes for change can be wide-ranging. And it’s these causes that determine the type of organizational change.
Transformations can be cultural, technological, workflow-oriented, all of the above, or something different.
Business Change Isn’t a Walk in the Park
It’s important not to underestimate the challenges of business transformation.
Success requires careful planning, extensive collaboration, and sustained effort. Even then, you face an uphill struggle.
According to many online sources, around 70% of business change efforts fail.
Most online sources cite this statistic, though consultant Jack Martin Leith calls it a myth.
He points out that the original study offered no supporting evidence.
Not only that, the original quote has been gradually transformed over the years. Thanks to a game of Chinese whispers, the original quote has become oversimplified essentially inaccurate.
Regardless of which statistic you believe, the fact remains – business change isn’t a walk in the park.
Failures do occur and here is what they can look like:
- The change process fails completely
- Not all of the objectives are met
- The change process goes over-budget
- It exceeds the timeline
Causes for failure can be traced to employee resistanceemployee resistance, a lack of capacity for change, a lack of executive support, or a combination of factors.
Fortunately, with the right planning and foresight, you can overcome obstacles to business change and increase your chances of success.
Is It the Right Time for Change?
Before even considering change, it’s vital to explore the issue inside and out.
Research can help you understand whether the timing is right, whether change is possible, and how to design your business change system.
Examples of key questions include:
- Why is change necessary?
- What specific results do we hope to get after completion?
- What obstacles will we face?
- Do we have the capacity for change?
- How will the change process impact business functions and customer service?
These just scratch the surface, of course.
The entire change process requires a much more extensive review.
infographic source: torbenrick
Once it’s been established that change is necessary, you can move forward with research, planning, and implementation.
Who Handles Business Change?
To succeed in any change initiative, a company must have all the right roles, pieces, and procedures in place.
There are a few core disciplines that are directly involved with change initiatives:
- Change Management – Employees designated to oversee and manage the initiative, particularly focusing on the human aspect of the change
- Change Leadership – Business leaders in charge of driving the change
- Organizational Development – Professionals who specialize in the ongoing improvement of an organization and its employees
Whenever a business is undergoes any sort of transformation, the following groups are often involved:
- Human Resources
- Organizational Development
- Business Leaders
- Cross-Disciplinary Change Teams
Regardless of the company’s size – or who is assigned to implement an initiative – it’s vital to gain support from the top to the bottom.
In other words, you need to gain buy-in from business leaders and support from ground-level employees.
How to Gain Support for a Change Initiative
Business is business.
Whether you are communicating to customers or gaining support from coworkers, you must always sell your ideas.
To do this, make a case for change that meets the needs of your audience.
Ask yourself how your audience will benefit, then build your message around that.
If you want to gain support from a department head, for instance, show how the change will improve their department, their results, and their jobs.
If you are speaking to ground-level employees, demonstrate how the change will improve their workflow, their job skills, their career prospects, and so forth.
Don’t underestimate the importance of building a solid case.
The better your message, the more support you’ll receive … and the greater your chances of success.
In this article we’ve just scratched the surface of business change.
As mentioned, this topic involves disciplines ranging from change management and leadership to organizational development, human resources, and more.
Before embarking on any initiative, explore this topic thoroughly.
Doing so will increase your chances of support and success.
Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.