change management to engage stakeholders

Whenever I work with organisational change management projects, I often find that stakeholder engagement is a term recognised but not completely understood. Organisations, and its people, are complex beings. Managing this complexity effectively relies on reaching out to all, gathering inputs and using these to measure an organisation’s success with regard to its triple bottom line (social, environmental, and financial). These three metrics are sometimes referred to as people, planet, and profits. Only when all three are aligned can an organisation claim to have reached sustainability.

The relevance of stakeholder engagement

Managing and measuring complexity is a need throughout organisational change management. Your people will have their own individual self-interests which predicate their behaviours. There will be potential conflicts of interest, warring agendas between individuals and teams. Strong leadership of change management requires a unified, consistent vision of the future. It is this that will encourage stakeholder engagement with all levels moving forward together.

Stakeholder engagement is a core competency of change management strategy. Change is only truly effective when all stakeholders are engaged in it. In my eBook, The Fundamentals of Change Management, I discuss a number of tools and methods that will ensure ownership of change by all stakeholders.

Here is a four step process to ensuring stakeholder engagement in your change management project.

1 Develop a value statement for change management

Formalise the benefits of change early in the project. However, realise that these benefits are likely to need updating as the project progresses and adjustments are made. All of these updates and adjustments will need to be communicated appropriately to stakeholders.

2 Get key stakeholders and sponsors on board

Your value statement will help you to enrol your key stakeholders. These will include leadership and influencers of change management, and their engagement will be a principal driver of wider stakeholder engagement. Realise also that while the sponsor of change may remain constant, your influencers of change may be a reasonably fluid list as the change works through your organisation. Bringing motivated and influential people in at relevant times and in relevant situations will promote the effectiveness of message. Remember that at all stages of change, leadership and influencers must cascade a consistent message through your organisation.

3 Identify all stakeholders and support required by them

With your key stakeholders on board, take time to identify all stakeholders, and have them represented at appropriate stages of the change project. Encourage feedback through forum meetings, and ensure all the implications of change have been documented: this will help to communicate your message and identify actions that need to be taken to align change with self-interests and employment levels.

4 Communicate effectively

Stakeholder engagement relies on effective communication throughout the organisation and the change program.  With the need to cascade a consistent message comes, too, the need to communicate and support stakeholders effectively. A structure which acts as a facilitator to this communication and training will be needed, with feedback from front line stakeholders used to help define communicative functionality. Ensure that communication is proactive and reactive, as well as relevant to audience.

Leadership of stakeholder engagement programs

In order to for leadership of change to be effective, it is necessary to ensure complete stakeholder engagement. This requires management of complexities which exist in all organisations and at all levels.

When working with clients within both targeted and organisation wide change programs, I utilise a number of tools and strategies that coexist to create an environmental and social bottom line that dovetails with revenue and earnings targets. As organisational change theorists now realise, only by aligning people, planet, and profits can change be implemented with sustainability.

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why successful companies fail

Successful companies that fail all have one thing in common: they ignore the one change management strategy that would otherwise ensure their continued success. They become complacent in their attitudes, and internal culture accentuates this. Some organisational failures are ‘excused’ by a single destructive action: the collapse of Barings Bank, then one of the UK’s premier independent financial organisations, was blamed on the actions of ‘rogue trader’ Nick Leeson who made losses of nearly £1 billion in the futures markets. More common, though, is the slow bleed of successful companies as they slip from market leader to average player and then into oblivion.

GM: the company that wasn’t ready to lead for 100 years

One such story is that of General Motors (GM), and its fall from grace serves well to illustrate the five reasons that successful companies fail. GM, you’ll remember, was bailed out in the height of the global financial crisis with $13.4 billion of funds from the US government. In return for the rescue from bankruptcy, GM’s Chief Executive Officer, Rick Wagoner, was fired. And yet just a few months earlier it was he who had declared GM to be a company ‘ready to lead for 100 years to come.’

Rick Wagoner may have been GM’s youngest ever Chief Financial Officer, but as a CEO he failed to see the value of the one change management strategy which would have ensured GM had been ready to lead for 100 years.

GM’s slow bleed to bankruptcy: what went wrong?

GM’s fall from grace wasn’t a quick jump off the cliff. For four decades it had been resting on its laurels. Sure, every now and again it would produce a market leading product – the Cadillac CTS-V and Chevrolet Malibu spring to mind – but these small victories were lost in the sea of below par GM vehicles flooding the market. Yet Wagoner made his claim despite the evidence. You see, GM had come to rely on its financial side to sell its cars, rather than product mastery.

At the time of its collapse GM was shifting plenty of cars, primarily because of the favourable financial terms it offered. But it couldn’t build cars as cheaply or efficiently as other manufacturers, features were sub-standard when compared to other models on the market, and components lacked longevity. When the credit crisis hit, GM was one of the first companies to fall to its knees. Today it survives, seemingly gaining in strength and stability, but its saving has written in losses to the American taxpayer of over $11 billion.

Before declaring Chapter 11 bankruptcy, GM had lost 90% of its worth. Given the depreciation in market value during Wagoner’s tenure, his departure was inevitable.

The five reasons that successful companies fail

GM, of course, is not alone in failing to maintain its market leading position. There are plenty of other companies which have failed to see the need for change management (Kodak was scuppered by the digital age, and EMI downloaded its own failure by failing to recognise the downloadable future). Why do such successful companies fall into failure?

1 The bigger you are, the harder it is to grow

A company that is worth $50 million requires a single new business worth $10 million to show 20% growth. When your organisation is worth $100 billion, 20% growth becomes far more difficult to achieve. Jack Welch took on GE when it was valued at $140, and by the time he retired from his role he had seen its market worth grow to $400 billion. The rate of growth was never likely to be replicated by the incoming CEO, Jeff Immelt.

As growth strategies play out, rates of growth slow. New markets become saturated and competition increases. More effort is required to produce diminishing returns: few organisations manage this transition phase well.

2 Business strategies decline as progressive tools

As soon as a business strategy is implemented, it begins to fade in relevance. All strategies have a limited life, as competitors learn to copy what is being done so successfully and even improve upon it. Products soon become replaced by the next big thing (vinyl replaced by CD replaced by download).

Profitable strategies become replaced, and the internet has been particularly prevalent in this as power has shifted from producers to consumers. The information age is posing new competitive threats for which many companies are ill-prepared.

3 Change catches companies by surprise

Change in markets, customer practices, products, regulations, and so on, should, perhaps, not come as a surprise. After all, the world of business is in constant flux and has been since business was first introduced into society. This pace of change has speeded as technological advances have cascaded through recent years.

Advantages held by products and technology last but a moment, and no longer are organisations protected by monopolistic distribution and production agreements and laws. The world is more global now than ever, and companies that were founded to be good at one thing fail at the one thing they should be good at: change management in a fast changing world.

It’s not simply companies that are subsumed by change – the publishing world is currently undergoing a rate of change that threatens the big five publishers with obscurity.

4 Success breeds a culture of failure

This may sound something of a contradiction, but as companies grow everyone from the cleaner through to the CEO has more to lose. Proactive attitudes give way to reactive cultures as people look to protect what they have rather than strive for growth. Instead of reaching for the stars, business leaders reach for regulations and rail against regulatory and industry change (one only has to look at how the big five publishers are currently ‘facing’ their challenges, even enlisting their authors to bang the drum).

This fear of failure serves only to deplete an organisation of the qualities which made it successful in the first place: innovation, adaptability, and agility.

5 Success breeds a culture of complacency

“Why fix what isn’t broken?” is a question that is often repeated in the boardrooms of successful companies. CEOs of successful companies become entrenched in their own success, the strategies that they may have put in place, and see no reason to instigate change. In a word, organisations and business leaders become complacent.

The state of complacency is the ultimate driving force behind the failure of successful companies

Fight complacency with paranoia as a change management strategy

If there is one change management strategy I would advocate above all others for leaders of successful companies to continually observe it is to be paranoid. Treat everything you know about your organisation, all your conceptions about your industry, and all your beliefs about competitors as no more than theories which must be tested and retested. Nothing remains the same forever, questioning your own judgement and position in your market will help you to understand that change and change management is a daily necessity of any successful business that wishes to remain so.

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change management and innovation and leaderership

As you can imagine, I spend a fair amount of time keeping up with changes and challenges faced by industry and business in the fields of change management and innovation. 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

It’ll follow throughout the infrastructure of the company, as managers, department heads, ambassadors, and representatives, will embody the company and everything the high-level executives represent. There are many ways …

To sum up, it says innovation management can help nonprofits in three different ways: – better funding – internal efficiency – unlock growth. Read full article: How Nonprofits are Leveraging Innovation Management Platforms …

The world has gone social and if you’re setting policies that restrict social interaction at work, you’re missing an opportunity. Your innovation play,

was one way the chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee described Congress’ role in fostering innovation in the armed forces. Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), speaking Thursday at …

Change Management

Knowing the organisations strengths, just like strength based case management, is a means to create stability; it is like a guiding beacon even if the final destination remains unknown and the change emerges over time.

Tresta Keegan, managing director of Tharstern Australia, says the changes will reinforce Australian and New Zealand customers’ confidence in the company’s long term future. She tells AP, “The MBO has given us an assured …

Pippa Hollebone now runs Southeast Asia and India, Michael Ang covers Greater China, and Australia and New Zealand is led by Kiaran Geen who took on the role in January. Leo Tech was founded in 2010, and is currently …

Boardroom re-shuffles are driving hiring activity. We’re seeing more change at the C-Suite level than we have in three years, with some senior management and direct report roles below the C-Suite entering the open market.

Where My Words Have Travelled

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

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are the subject of a lot debate in the blogosphere. Will they be a disruptive technology for universities? Will they take over the trainer’s job in corporate organizations?

From a higher education perspective, it’s easy to see the selling point for students

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

 Successful people – life’s winners – innovate. They’re not scared to try something new to improve the tried and tested.

Perhaps one of the best known examples of this is Dick Fosbury, who in the 1968 Olympics introduced a brand new style of high jumping and trounced his opposition. Until the 1960’s, the landing surface for high jumpers had been piles of sand or sawdust. Fosbury saw the introduction of a softer landing surface as creating an opportunity to innovate and improve on the standard scissor kick jump technique.

 I MENTIONED to a project sponsor the other day that I was about to do a brainstorming workshop, and she laughed at me saying how “1980’s” the word ‘brainstorming’ was. I don’t know what to call it any more, maybe a more sophisticated word is ‘ideation’.