Executive sponsors need to communicate the case for change as an opportunity
Recently a leading network equipment company came to me with a true sense of urgency surrounding their unique case for change. I quickly realize that, given the parameters of their distinctive dilemma, they were ripe for the ten step program we are utilizing.
The case as stated concerned one of the larger divisions of this global company, which was facing a variety of very solvable issues, including
- Dwindling profit margins
- Lack of common unified vision
- An organizational structure that was not aligned to the vision or strategy
- Little to no innovation (i.e. no new services in the pipeline)
If you look at these items closely, you can see how a few were actualy time-critical, and this is where the ten-step process is so vital to embrace fully and completely. Despite the time pressure to increase profit margins and get some new services in the pipeline, this particular company recognized its strong case for change and made the internal commitment to a business transformation charter for change management
They tool the time to build a charter and put together a team around the charter. Now, as is the case with many companies, some of the stakeholders were very pushy in moving foreword to eradicate these problems quickly, but the executive sponsor manged the expectations and took the time to develop a sound charter to not only a.) solve today's problems but also to b.) avoid tomorrow's problems as well (i.e. he instinctively realized that change is not an event.
Perhaps the best part of this story is the level of commitment the core transformation team was able to get from key leadership positions. Case in point: to solicit ownership of the transformation and give it more credibility, the senior-most executive of the organization (a Senior VP) was so passionate about the true sense of urgency involved in this transformation that while returning form a business trip to visit a major customer, he dialed in from the airport to "build" upon the case for change; he cited examples of his discussion with the major customer, and his enactment of his discussion with the customer helped the teams visualize the issues. He was able to make a compelling case for the transformation and the urgency involved in making it quickly.
The intent was to move the stakeholders away from complacency and yet not push them into a false sense of urgency--it is a fine balance, which is what the executive sponsor and the senior VP were able to do through this meeting. The leader was able to get everyone's attention by openly sharing what he heard from the field. He also did a fine job in positioning the case for change as an "opportunity" rather than a doomsday prophesy. An informal poll at the end of the meeting showed that 100% of the attendees were able to appreciate the issues shared by the leader and showed eagerness in working with the leadership team not only to resolve these issues but also prevent them from happening in the first place.
What I love about this story is the commitment of the organization from the top to the bottom. Without some of the pressure from stakeholders, I'm not sure this company would have had the success it eventually did. Everyone was committed to "change" and, that truly reflected the unique opportunities for this company. As a result, all four of the critical challenges this company faced were turned around on time--and on budget---to put the company on the right track and, more importantly, to keep it there.
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