Spooning the Soup of Effective Change

Effective Change Management made gradually

Breaking down traditions with effective change

There are many companies that you wouldn’t expect to change. However, when markets and customer desires change, then organisations have no option but to at least go with the flow. For such companies, this change in focus, and even product mix, can be a daunting prospect. Not least because of ‘entering the unknown’ but also because of the potential impact on its people.

Companies that are hundreds of years old will likely have employees working for them whose father and mothers worked for them, and whose parents before them were also dedicated to the same firm. That’s a lot of tradition to tear apart.

One such company is Campbell Soup, the American Fortune 500 company and one of only 21 which are currently led by a woman. Its logo – a soup can design – says exactly what the company does. It’s known for making ready-made soups. That, though, is changing.

Leading change in a sustainable tin

Its CEO, Denise Morrison, is leading the company away from its roots. She wants to see her company less reliant on its major product, and with a better mix of offerings for a more discerning customer base.

Not only has she been leading the company away from liquid meals in a can, but is looking to build a more sustainable business model with greater ethical approach. Top of the agenda are items such as tackling child obesity, reducing waste, and decreasing its carbon footprint.

She has undertaken a two pronged approach to corporate change. On the one hand, Campbell Soup is buying up food and drink companies that operate within the healthier foods sector. In 2012, it spent more than $1.5 billion on Bolthouse Farms – the largest buy in the company’s history.

It has also bought baby food makers, cookie manufacturers, and other companies in attempts to reduce the proportion of revenues attributable to soup. And when it comes to its traditional product, Morrison is targeting younger buyers with more modern flavours and packaging.

Consumers tastes are changing, and Morrison is changing her company with increasing speed. As she has said, “The things that worked for us in the past were not going to work the same way going forward.”

Building community and creating effective change

One thing that Morrison saw as being glue for change was the fight against hunger and childhood obesity.

In one initiative, and seizing on the opportunity to help less privileged, she challenged Campbell’s people to help the Food Bank of New Jersey. Staff gave their time freely, and the company provided ingredients and jars, in efforts to turn tonnes of edible, but blemished, peaches into something edible. What they came up with was ‘a whole pro bono supply chain’ (as Morrison called it), creating peach salsa.

Food banks don’t often get foods made especially for them. The efforts used otherwise unusable fruit and vegetables, created community spirit among Campbell’s people, and engendered individual and team empowerment.

It is this sense of community that Morrison says is helping her to change the company from the inside out.

How Morrison spoon feeds change

Morrison attributes Campbell’s effective change to her background and the effect her upbringing has had on the way she leads. Her father taught her and her sisters business skills – her sister is one of the remaining 20 Fortune 500 company female CEOs. He saw the world becoming less sexist and opportunities opening to women.

Morrison said her father’s business ethics even invaded normal teenage life decisions. “I had to have a business plan to get my ears pierced,” she recalled in interview with the Guardian last year.

When asked what she saw as the most necessary traits of an effective change leader, it’s not surprising that Morrison drew on her own personal characteristics. These were the five traits she saw as being imperative to lead change effectively:

  1. Have a strong sense of self
  2. Have a personal and business mission
  3. Demonstrate the willingness to take risks
  4. Become involved, leading from the front
  5. Be authentic, and always willing to do what you ask others to do

When it comes to promoting change within an organisation, Morrison is a big believer in the value of the individual and the strength of teamwork.

She has instilled working practices that take her characteristics and moulds them in small teams, utilising diversified experiences of employees from different divisions and departments to examine consumer trends and behaviours and formulate ideas for everything from new products to exciting marketing plans.

At Campbell, under the leadership of Morrison, it’s not just the products that are changing – it’s the whole personality of the organisation as it moves ahead of the market in which it operates.

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This Week’s Best of the Rest: 12th April 2014

change management and innovation

As you can imagine, I spend a fair amount of time keeping up with changes and challenges faced by industry and business. So I’m constantly on the lookout for information and news that may impact behaviour and best practice across organisations.

Here’s a pick of what I’ve been attracted to this week:

Innovation News

Innovation and value add principles however will ensure Australian manufacturing keeps pace with other countries who have invested in innovation such as Sweden, Germany and more recently Brazil. More agile SME’s are …

24 March 2014. Media Statement. Innovation and changing consumer needs brings together Australia’s non-alcoholic beverage industry at annual conference on the Gold Coast. Australia’s non-alcoholic beverage industry has today come …

Google Australia has published a new 47 page book. Dubbed ‘Australia’s Innovation Generation’ and part of the search giant’s Start with Code campaign, the book chronicles the stories of ten innovative Australian …

The company said the new fund was intended to raise $100 million from institutional investors and high net worth individuals over the next 12 months and would invest in a portfolio of emerging Australian companies with …

Change Management

Three in five Australian companies are unprepared for the Privacy Amendment Act (PAA) according to a report commissioned by Iron Mountain. The information management services company tasked Galaxy research to …

The CMBoK, which describes and defines the knowledge that change managers need, is the product of work by the Australia-based Change Management Institute (CMI) and APMG-International, a leading Examination …

Results from a survey conducted by ESI International reveal that Australian project managers are the paid the highest salaries in the Asia-Pacific region. The ESI International Asia-Pacific Project Management Salary Survey, …

Change managers are in demand at banks in Asia, but it’s regulatory reform, not restructuring, that is driving the demand for their leadership skills. … Home · Job Search · News & Advice · News · Advice · Students. Candidate Sign In. Sign In; or …

Change management systems – safeguarding plant automation assets. The increased use of plant floor automation to achieve production goals has created a dependency on PLCs, PC-based control systems, SCADA systems …

Where My Words Have Travelled

publish around the place from time to time. Here’s the latest:

I explain why effective change management only happens if leaders and executives at all levels are aligned.

And it’s on Video!

In 1987 Paul O’Neill became the CEO of Alcoa. Taking over the helm of a company usually means making grand statements about finances, about cutting costs, and change the investment priorities. But what O’Neill did at his first investor press conference was a little different.

To improve productivity in organizations you need only get leaders out in the field

The controversial Koch brothers wrote a book called the Science of Success (2007). I don’t recommend you read it as it’s one of those books that successful people write where they think they were successful because of these management techniques, whereas it’s more likely that because they were successful they could try out these management techniques (fads of the day?).

According to the ASTD’s 2013 State of the Industry Report, U.S. organizations spent $164.2 billion on employee learning and development in 2012. The report does a good job of categorizing and classifying expenditure. But what about ROI? How can managers structure training to ensure a positive ROI?

How often have you rolled out a new IT project that failed to deliver the desired benefits? Most projects fail to deliver benefits because of poor change management. Little to no attention is paid to the people side.

From the Vault

Innovation is more important than ever in a world of rapid change. Here’s three ways to exploit change rather than be a victim to it.

Unfortunately innovation is too often associated with technology. This is a shame because innovation applies to business models, such as the low cost airline models pioneered by Southwest Airlines and Ryanair, as well as processes on the frontline like self-serve checkouts at supermarkets.

Coaching without direct authority can be a challenge.  Using these three steps can help you achieve success. click to tweet

Over 76% of all managers have to coach and influence sales people that do not directly report to them. HR people have the phrase “Influence without direct authority”, otherwise known as: “Convincing someone to do something when they don’t have to do it.”  Most managers get it wrong with the cost of lost productivity every day.

Eight Efforts You Need To Make For Effective Change

change management leadership

I recently consulted with a departmental manager who was responsible for a large scale project requiring a change of internal working practices and external client communication channels.

As you can imagine, the manager was deeply concerned about the effect on staff morale – this was a project for which he had senior management sponsorship, but one that would disrupt individuals, teams, and the whole dynamic of the business.

The manager asked for my help and advice in order to make effective change in the organisation. I told him it needed plenty of effort on his part:

1.      Effective change requires effective communication

One of the major reasons for failure of any change initiative is either lack of communication or poor communication. Make time for team and department meetings, and use these to explain the need for change, the benefits of change for individuals and the groups.

Make your explanations easy to understand, with change goals challenging, but achievable.

2.      Make it easy for people to interact with change

People will react better to change if they are allowed to challenge and discuss. If the change is valid, you’ll win any argument against the change. But if you don’t allow those points of view to be aired, you’ll encourage a feeling of distrust in the change.

Meetings can be used for this, but other channels may include in-house online forums, anonymous surveys, and suggestions boxes. This will help you to understand concerns, break down resistance and increase support.

3.      Make time to digest and discuss feedback

Just because you collect feedback won’t make your people understand that you are responsive to their concerns. Make time to acknowledge and discuss people’s concerns and objections. These might include increased hours of work (or decreased), anxiety over new systems and processes, and fears for jobs.

4.      Understand that, for many, change will be difficult

Some of your people may have been with the company, in the same job, even, for ten years or more. They will know the current processes inside out, and change will be more than a little difficult for them. Make sure you communicate the training and support they will receive, and tackle their skepticism by identifying the benefits that will serve their self-interests.

5.      Empower your people through the change

If you have followed the steps above, your people should already be feeling that they are stakeholders in the project (which, of course, they are). By being receptive and proactive to emotional stresses that change will bestow on them, you’ll further enhance their comfort levels. Don’t be afraid to hold brainstorming sessions, where you may even find you receive some great ideas about planned systems and processes. Involve all stakeholders openly.

 6.      Measure success and react accordingly

No change ever runs completely smoothly. Even though you will have planned for the unexpected, when it happens it may impact others very negatively.

Measuring the progress of your change initiative, against pre-planned metrics, will allow you to be proactive as to the changing requirements of your change initiative. You’ll be able to react faster, and the requirement to measure and report successes and setbacks will keep all stakeholders fully engaged.

7.      Reinforce the change

Finally, change must be reinforced. A change initiative is never really fully complete. If your people are engaged and real stakeholders, then they will continually press for improvements as they become necessary.

Soon after the ‘end’ of the change project, you should instigate a continual process of training and retraining, reinforcing the new way of doing things. Even though you have put in so much effort to date, you may still find some wanting to slip back to the old ways of doing things. Always ensure that the new ways are being followed, and be prepared to back up with disciplinary action.

Be open. Include everyone. But everyone must understand that the change is not optional, even if it does benefit from fluidity.

8.      Reward your people

Finally, make sure you reward people for their efforts. Don’t leave these rewards until the end of the project, but rather seek to let people know you respect, admire, and appreciate their efforts, enthusiasm, and support – just as much as they should appreciate yours.

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