Leading Corporate Change – The Body

Third in a series on change leadership.

Remember those three rocks held together by a rubber band? The rocks represent the mind, body, and soul, respectively, of an organization. All three must move in the same direction and at the same time, or suffer the consequence … the rubber band snapping back and stymieing progress. Then you’re back in that awful situation of looking at the same business challenges but with the added burden of a failed initiative in your rear view mirror.

The Body

When you think about the “body” of an organization, it is important to remember the image of the three rocks held together by that rubber band. If the three rocks don’t move together, they will certainly not be able to move separately. An organization’s body is its processes and structure, the core processes the company needs to work well. These can range from account management, to product development, to supply chain management to inventory control to sales turnover to professional services delivery. These processes must be looked at critically – just as the organization’s leadership is analyzed – to make sure that they can handle the extra pressure of change.

What are your Key Processes?

Fred Wiersema and Michael Treacy wrote “The Discipline of Market Leaders” in 1997 and the basis of the book still hold true.  Know what  kind of company you are.  Is it critical that you are world class in customer service?  Is it critical that you are a market leader in innovation and research?  Is your success dependent on being operationally efficient?  Understand what processes are key to your success and focus on being world class in those.

If it ain’t broke … break it!

Where are the black holes in your organization? Where is value being drained from your company because you are slow to market, late in your deliverables, unaware of your target market needs and wants.  A trend I keep running into recently is lack of governance.  Some organizations have such poor governance and insight on how their key corporate processes support their business operations, that by the time they realize they are in trouble, it is already too late.

A check up from the neck up on your structure.

Are the organization’s structures aligned with the vision for the organization’s growth and future? It may well be that business transformation and re-engineering may be necessary to support the change, and it is crucial that these determinations are made early in the process.  When changing the processes of an organization, it is also important to align those processes with one another (in keeping with the image, the little pebbles within the rocks must be held together, just as the big rocks are held to each other).

Reorganization is not the only thing that is important to changing the body of the organization. The elements within the organization may be fine, but their alignment may be problematic. In that case, it is important to realign things appropriately to ensure that the processes will not be overwhelmed by change. These realignment plans should take a collaborative approach. This kind of change is not about one person imposing swift changes, but is about the organization itself making the change. Outside help can manage or facilitate the process, but it should not impose solutions. Internal input should be maximized.

We’ll wrap up this series and tie everything together with our next conversation on the soul of an organization – corporate culture.

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