Change Management: A Key Player in Your Starter Team
May23

Change Management: A Key Player in Your Starter Team

Throughout my work at different organizations in the change management field, I often wondered why change management is not brought in at the very early stages during strategy development!  In most cases, change management is not considered until the organization strategy is finalized, all the initiatives have been mapped out, the sponsors are identified, and the teams to implement each of the initiatives are already in place.  But is that really the right time to engage change management?  I would argue at that point, it may already be too late! In mature organizations, change management is not only considered when major changes are being introduced – it is more of a “lifestyle” for the senior executives and managers of that organization.  It is part of the core values and the competencies of every manager.  It is built into their everyday work and it is definitely built into their strategy development process. So why should you bring in change management in the early stages of strategy development as opposed to after?  Here’s some food for thought: To ensure full engagement by all stakeholders – When defining your strategy, you need the involvement of all levels of the organization.  If people are involved in the definition and setting the direction for the organization, they have a bigger stake in the game and are more committed.  What better way to engage your employees than to have them involved in the development of their own strategy.  You’ll find that employees are passionate about the organization and have lots of creative ideas that can be considered while developing your strategy and your value proposition.   This does not only apply to your employees but also to your customers, partners, and suppliers.  Ultimately, you’ll have a better targeted strategy and all your stakeholders are ready to execute. To ensure proper alignment of your sponsors – In most cases, sponsors of key strategies and initiatives are identified purely based on their function.  By doing some initial interviews and assessments for your full executive team, you can align the sponsors to the areas that they are most interested and enthusiastic about.  A passionate executive can do wonders to your strategy and to the engagement of his or her employees. To jump start the execution of your strategy – change management and resistance management plans can be developed as the strategy is being defined.  As soon as the strategy is finalized, all sponsorship and communication activities can be already in place and ready to go.  You won’t have a lag time until you involve the change team to figure out how to cascade down the strategy and how to...

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Slime cleans House! Importance of Customer Segmentation
May22

Slime cleans House! Importance of Customer Segmentation

My daughter’s school put together an event called “business day” in the school’s gymnasium, and boy was it an event!  It reminded me of an open air market in a small beach town where everything on display was for sale! Food, trinkets, clothing, and many other items. The concept was quite interesting, kids were encouraged to buy products and sell them to visitors of this event.  Outside of selling age inappropriate items, the rules were straight forward: kids should sell their hearts out maximizing profits!  The school did not charge a fee or percentage which created a free flowing market for those kids with minimal restrictions.  I thought to myself, what an amazing learning experience this must be for these young bright minds! So my daughter resorted to the sound approach of sourcing stationary items (mechanical pencils, pens, funky erasers) and selling them for a 50% – 70% margin which is excellent by many industries standards.  Other “merchants” sold gourmet foods, clothing, while one kid in particular focused on niche products: slime in a bucket, slinkys, light wands, and similar novelties. It was quite a sight and presented a clear case study for Customer segmentation, all you had to do was stand there for 5 minutes and watch for it to become clear! If you were to take a look across the hall, you will see polarization of “customers” gravitating towards one side of the hall or the other.  Adults were clustered around the food and clothing stations while kids were clustered around the slime & novelties table.  Every now and then kids would sneak over to the food station to fuel up and then hurry back to the slime table.  They made the a stop along the way between the two stations to stock up on pencils, erasers, and pens (stationary).  So my daughter leveraged customers’ conversion between food and slime and capitalized on having interesting merchandise to slow them down for a purchase. I am sure profiting kids, and their parents, did not consciously think about segmentation, nonetheless they applied good common business sense to understand customers and their buying habits.  Those kids that didn’t apply the similar logic, left home with most of their merchandise in hand. This brings us to the topic of this blog which is segmentation and its importance.  There is no set method or approach to segmentation, but I like the straight forward approach of Bradford and Duncan in their book Simplified Strategic Planning – 2000, where they look at segmentation based on customers who think and behave in the same way, possible segments include: Customer needs & preferences Commodity & specialty...

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Vision without Execution is just Hallucination!
May22

Vision without Execution is just Hallucination!

Over the last five years I have had many opportunities to work with senior executives, across all market verticals, helping them to undertake business transformation exercise.  One common challenge these executives have shared with me is their frustration with failure to deliver on their vision due to the major disconnect between vision and execution.  Business visions such as, creating differentiation in customer experience, enriching citizens life, to become top ten enterprises in specific market vertical, the largest Islamic financial institution in the region and the market leader in respective market verticals is not uncommon.  However, very rarely if ever one is educated on the next execution tasks enterprises need to perform  to realize their vision.  There are many contributing factors to this challenge including, complexity of the organization, complex technology platform. huge data spread across multiple systems and lack of end-to-end process visibility and ownership. The realization of vision may require inducing changes across multiple layers of enterprise. The KPIs, business processes, organizational structure, information, applications and technology may need to transformed in parallel as a result of successful vision realization. For example, an enterprise may want to enhance customer experience by reducing the transaction time.  This may require one or all of the following: process optimization, organization delegation, applications enhancement, data reengineering and network upgrade. Enterprise architecture provides a medium that helps to fill the gap between vision and execution by formally capturing critical assets and resources and establishing logical relationship between these elements. Providing valuable tool to senior executive in helping to identify execution tasks that would need to be performed in order to realize the vision.  Furthermore impact of carrying out each task would be visible through well-engineered enterprise architecture. Therefore helping vision realization through solid...

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Taming Lions and Tigers in your Strategic Planning Circus
May17

Taming Lions and Tigers in your Strategic Planning Circus

It’s early morning when I arrive to the offices of one of my major clients at the time to connect with my partner on a big presentation we were delivering to executives.  We sit in the coffee shop near the lobby to review our slides and ensure all of our key messages are there. We were going big with a cool and flashy theme: Achieving your Strategy by Optimizing of Your Strategic initiatives Portfolio! As we start going through the slides a heated debate erupts around traceability of initiatives to strategic objectives and the multidimensional relationships of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of objectives and projects.  Once we realized that we are running out of time we put the debate aside for a later time and compromised on how we will present the relationships hoping to god that the client will not drill into that level of detail. We get ushered into the conference room and start setting up as executives and senior managers start filing in and sitting down.  After pleasantries and the usual round of introductions we go through our presentation and we feel like a million bucks! The flow is good, the engagement is good, the mood is upbeat, and we are feeling pretty good about ourselves. Then one senior manager turns to me and asks: why should I bother with strategic initiatives? Aren’t processes good enough to deal with innovating and delivering products to my customers?  Flabbergasted, I turn to my partner who also turned a certain shade of blue and before we could answer the question pandemonium broke out in the room and our Million Bucks feeling tanked into negative territory as the circus rolled in!  Executives and managers were arguing and debating definitions, concepts, strategic direction, financials, and everything in between. It dawned on us that these guys don’t have a solid Strategy that is clearly defined, understood, communicated, and shared with the rest of the organization.  Sounds familiar?  I believe this is the case in more organizations than people would want to admit. Needless to say a well communicated strategy is more effective than one which remains on slide decks and printed on banners that cover walls.  An experienced Strategy Architect plays the facilitator with executives and managers to articulate the strategy using architecture. A good starter set of Strategy Components to get a handle on would be Vision, Mission, values, Goals,  Objectives, & top level KPIs against those objectives.  Strategic Architecture examines these components and the relationship between them and establishes a common understanding between them. Click Here to download a Visual Diagram. The relationship diagram explains how the components influence each...

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Got Transformation Glue?
May15

Got Transformation Glue?

My family often asks me, “Jayme, what do you do exactly?” I tell them, “I help organizations realize the value in major program transformations by managing the people side of change.” Before I can even give them an example to help make it relatable, I see that all-to-familiar glazed look in their eyes, and its official… I’ve lost them again! If you ask most Change Managers, we will tell you that the value of change management is successfully implementing changes that meet their time, budget and quality goals. This statement is supported by continuous research that qualifies and quantifies these benefits. One study completed by IBM found that, on average, only 41% of projects were considered successful, meaning that they fully met their objectives. On the other hand, 44% of projects failed to meet their time, budget or quality goals, while 15% failed to meet all objectives or were stopped all together. A detailed analysis revealed a highly significant correlation between project success and four important change management areas of focus: real insights, solid methods, better skills and right investment. In essence, those Change Managers who excelled in the above focus areas reported an 80% project success rate, nearly double the average. A recent benchmarking study released by Prosci also discusses the correlation between change management effectiveness and project success, e.g., meeting objectives, staying on or ahead of schedule, staying on or under budget. As you can see, time, budget and quality are measures that are commonly used to evaluate the success of a specific operational change. However, what I wonder is… by emphasizing this operational value of change management, have we lessened its strategic importance? According to the Business Dictionary, strategy can be defined as, “the art and science of planning and marshalling resources for their most efficient and effective use in order to bring about a desired future, such as the achievement of a goal or solution to a problem.” Therefore, the strategic value of change management would be its contribution to bringing about a desired future for an organization. At its core, this is what change management does! Change management facilitates an organization’s smooth transition from its current state to a future state. Specifically, here are my Top Five Reasons Why Change Management is Strategically Important for an Organization. Change management contributes to the identification, prioritization and realization of the value brought to an organization, and to a positive return on investment, as a result of the change. Change management provides leadership responsible for managing the change with a directed course of action, including identified objectives and milestones structured to align the organization’s people and culture...

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