I am currently in the process of relocating my family to Sweden, with everything this means in terms of practicalities, new perspectives, things and habits. One thing that really struck me as interesting was how much time and energy we spent on worrying about the change. Now that we have finally moved and settled in, it is much easier than we had predicted. Change often comes with a fear for the unknown. With a little bit of help and coaching, even the biggest changes are possible.
One thing that I noticed here in Sweden is that you don't use cash, and in the whole month that I have lived here, I haven't even touched a bank note or coin. A cashless society opens up a whole world of benefits in terms of data about spending habits and customer behavior, but I think us Brits have a little fear for leaving the cash behind. I think progress to cashless economies is inevitable but might take a little longer in some countries than has been the case in Sweden!
For us at Orange Business Services, we are in a constant state of development. As the new head of the Nordic region, I am inevitably bringing some change to the organization with a stronger focus on customers, more innovation in terms of delivery and support and a much stronger footprint, especially with the recent acquisition of Basefarm.
Today, every corporation must change to survive. If your organization doesn't innovate and change in accordance with market-driven needs and demands, it will fail – it's just that simple. Many organizations are also heading this way, big time. In the Deloitte 2018 Global Human Capital Trends, 51 percent of companies are currently in the process of redesigning their organizations for digital business models. This is promising.
But change is not simple, and it is not always successful if you cannot find a way of working with all aspects of the organization. In the Deloitte report Change Management in Project Work, 92 percent of participants agree that resistance to change is an expected reaction of employees to any intrusion in their established ways of working. Wow! This is what I call a challenge. I would also like to highlight that the costs are high when change efforts go wrong—not only financially but in confusion, lost opportunity, wasted resources and diminished morale.
I think it makes sense to highlight a few obvious downfalls when trying to create a culture of change and innovation. One aspect, which is not rare, is that the staff and the whole organization are hit by "change fatigue." This often happens when the staff gets in a stressful state by being asked or involved in too many shifts or change projects at once. This is often the result when change initiatives have been poorly thought through, rolled out too fast or put in place without sufficient preparation.
Change initiatives also tend to stagger. This is often the case when companies lack the skills to ensure that change can be sustained over time. An initiative might set out eagerly with a certain focus, but as things proceed and maybe don’t get the immediate outcome as expected, they lose heart. A good way of trying to avoid this is to work with process design and training, to instill new practical approaches and give people the knowledge and cultural support they need. It is also important to have KPIs in place to be able to track the expected outcome and progress.
The third major obstacle is that transformation efforts are typically decided upon, planned and implemented in the C-suite, with little input from those at lower levels. This filters out information that could be helpful in designing the initiative while also limiting opportunities to get frontline ownership of the change. This can result in participants not understanding the changes they were expected to make and, in worse cases, totally disagree with the initiative, the strategy or the outcome.
I would very much like to continue discussing these topics. What is your major challenge when it comes to implementing change?
Simon Ranyard is Managing Director for the Nordic Region at Orange Business Services and is based in Stockholm, Sweden. With 20 years' experience in ICT in sales functions, Simon is driving a revenue growth plan by focusing on the innovative services that Orange can bring to its customers and on continuously improving the way we work with them.
In his spare time, Simon is a keen cricket fan and enjoys supporting youth development in the game.