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Business Change: When Is the Right Time?

A point of view

Recently I have been exploring about the context of Change within the Enterprise.   As everyone knows driving change is an interesting art and companies are aiming to achieve their sustainability in various methods.   However, I had a question in my mind - how would you know when is the right time to make the change?

Vicious Cycle
If a company is driving change internally because of the driving factors from external forces then the level of resistance is generally higher.  Equally the proactive ‘change triggers' from within the companies take lots of time to embed due to the nature of the organisational dynamics.  In the process, we end up losing time which leads the company to be reactive to business needs.  This cycle in turn continues and formulates the vicious cycle until it shakes up the fundamental identity of the organisation.

If we analyse deeper, generally the business change means the perception of introduction of new technology or even closer - laying off, changing the people or engaging an external consulting firms for advisory.

In my opinion, changing the people alone doesn't make the significant impact to the organisation.  While it may attribute to some level of forward thinking, generally this may lead to a state where organisation changes the people constantly (like every three years or four years) in order to show the "illusion of improvement or productivity increase".  In reality, this may take the companies backward.

Second, the concept of changing people generally forces the talented people to voluntarily move out of the organisation which creates a ‘knowledge vacuum'.   What this does to the organisation is a sense of uncertainty about any change because of the ‘fear of unknown' which leads to the delay in making decisions.

Finally, engaging external consulting firms may provide independent perspective of the status quo, however they don't run the core business hence they can't predict the success of the recommendation that they may put forward.

An Alternative
The appetite for change must come from one's personal perspective in order to appreciate the need. If at a personal level an individual is not convinced, then it is not worth the effort.  Similarly, for organisations, business change must come from the company's core team.  While the problem is easy to address at a personal level, within the company, because of multiple departments the likelihood of realising the need for change generally gets into the ego clash and cross-departmental politics.

In this case, the value of a consultant, an enterprise architect or a business analyst is to anchor the teams to reflect and realise the need for change without even worrying about the potential options or solutions.  This gives the key stakeholders from different departments to engage in a simple concept of brainstorm within a room without worrying about the solutions.

An architect takes the role of a guide in navigating the stakeholders without any emotions to realise the gaps and acknowledge the need for changing the status quo.  Because this is not pushed on to them as a solution and basically unveiling the reasons as collaborative team, the outcome generally leads to consensus around the need for change.   Sometimes, this may even lead to the concrete set of immediate actions that they may want to take.

This approach allows the company to constantly view their status quo with the perspective of change needs - it leads to a set of incremental and early changes and therefore leads to a more fundamental change to the entire organisation at its core - its people, who is culturally trained to be ready for change.

The Right Time
Therefore the right time is not something that you quantify based on the external parameters or indicators such as declining margin or revenue, to take action.  Instead, the focus is on the way the organisation is shifting its view about introducing the change which is more to do with regular reflection on its status quo (say twice a year). This approach I believe makes the company to be generally effective in reducing the complexity, scale of the business change and increases the likelihood of success.  And because it creates a cycle of quick wins, it makes the entire process more of a virtuous cycle and not a vicious cycle.

More Stories By Nandakumar Balasubramaniyan

Nanda is working as Principal Architect with Infosys Technologies Ltd. He brings in more than 15 years of online experience. Prior to joining Infosys, Nanda worked in Public Sector and Consulting organisations. He has been awarded as the “Consultant of the Year” in 2008 by British Computer Society for delivering business value to customers through his exceptional planning, leadership and organisational skills. He has demonstrated capabilities in developing large scale transformation from procurement to Transitional state. He holds an MBA from University of Wales.