Challenges in Life Sciences Supply Chains in Asia – LogiSYM July/August 2017
If you’re not automating you business, you risk going out of business.
At some point in time, we may have all been faced with various forms of change in our work environment. The reality is that many of us did not like it as we do not like change. But change takes place around us all the time. Most of the time we do not even know that it is happening and yet we accept it after we realise that is has happened. The fundamental resistance to change for many of us, is the fear of the unknown. Or moving us away from our comfort zone. Or that we were not part of change process consultation? Whatever the reason, there will always be resistance and skepticism to change. However change in our business environment is almost certain a necessity and no longer a choice.
Change has been many a CEO’s greatest challenge to manage. There are virtually very few businesses that have not needed to make some form of radical change. Some have been successful in dealing with change and others have failed. Even for the successful ones, the journey would not have been easy. The need for change is often identified when things are going badly wrong. But on other hand when one anticipates the changing landscape, the response is often “if it ain’t broke why fix it?”
As a visionary CEO this is a challenge – you can see the rough ride ahead but no one else can. You are on your own! But not all is lost – change has to start even if there is little “buy-in” at first. Change has to start by understanding what has to be changed and most of all, why. When these two key points are clear the transformational change can begin. The launch of the change process is the next big event that needs to be carefully handled. The tendency of making big broadcasts of change and promoting the concept of adapting to a “new company order”, is often 1st in the spiral of failure. Pre-mature alarms and calls for massive change is seen as a revolution. A threat and the formation of core resistance throughout the journey no matter how well it has been planned and intended.
Having identify what and why change has to happen, the next is to identify the priority of where change needs to be applied. Often change will impact the whole organisation but there is a delicate sequence of where this change transformation begins. Well selected change catalysts will enable a smoother transition, accelerate the “buy-in” and reduce resistance on the way.
Experts will differ on this question, and will also differ by organisation. However, I believe that the most but effective change management strategy is to identify the areas which are key to make early gains in the transformational process. There are two corporate functions that are instrumental in the process and critical to the transformational roadmap in the organisation – these are principally the Human Resources function and the Finance function. Why do I think these are the key starting areas ? Because people and money are the two crucial assets in an organisations overall workings.
As change impacts people greatly, it is the HR function that has to enable and manage “the reset” elements of change. Dealing with people in a transformational scenario is paramount to success. The key questions of the what, why, where, how and when change need to be supported by HR! Driving change through a structured HR platform, will help not only the transitional stages but will also help to stabilise and sustain the longer term program. The second key enabler is finance. This provides the space and leverage to evolve the programs necessary to manage the transformation. But finance is also a powerful lever to ensure that the governance of a change management program is well balanced whilst engaging other functions in the organisation.
The 3rd and most important enabler is the leadership for change management that provides the vision and guidance throughout the transformational journey. This all sounds great! But is this enough to achieve the desired changes? And how do you ensure the checks and balances required to keep the program on course?
Indeed planning the transformational journey, enabling the key functions and having a strong leadership in place to kick-off the program, are undoubtedly fundamental. But what happens when things do not go to plan or heavy resistances are met or the business stability starts to falter? It has been know that in such cases, all is cancelled and everyone tries to get back to normal. This unfortunately would be the 2nd step in the spiral of failure. It is very difficult for an organisation to return to a previous state of operation once a change program has been initiated. There is no going back! The wheels of motion started fuelling changes, as people appreciate that change could be good. It is often a few hard core resisting change, who make the loudest noises that create panic and confusion. However well prepared a roadmap and strategy is, there will always be a natural confusion and doubt that arises throughout the program. It is that fear of the unknown and the shift from that comfort zone, that kicks in hard on those who are touched by change. However being able to recognise it and prepared to deal with, is the true value that change managers and change agents bring to the party. Change is managed through teams.
Nurturing change, building the blocks for the new company order, developing con dence in the key enablers on the transformation journey is a fundamental part of the roadmap. It is the tactical execution that needs a detailed attention at the very early stages of the program.
Revising or formalising policies, procedures and guidelines will be essential to provide the working principles for clarity. But creating a trusted and tested methodology to stay on course will be key for all. This will overcome fear of the unknown and help navigate to through new waters.
Some Companies have stronger tendencies to be inward facing. They are pre-occupied with the internal workings and battling inter- departmental silos and positioning their corners. The sales function is probably more outward facing than others. They can see their competitors, their organisation’s shortcomings and the disconnects between the functions that should be supporting sales.
The classic cases are well know, of where change is needed and if this does not happen, the company usually ceases to exist. The most powerful wake-up call that will make an inward looking organisations realise their folly ! It is when their customers tell them how bad they are. This may too late and change becomes a major battle of survival rather and productive transformational experience.
An e ective and productive approach to kick-start a change management program, is to change the organisation from an inward to an outward facing! This can be achieved by deploying structured Client surveys on key performance or perception parameters. Benchmarking key parameters with best-in-class and internal sta engagement surveys. These 3 tools will provide useful and critical information that will create the 4th dimension enabler to the transformational program. There of course other tools and drivers that could be used.
Using fact based data will become the basis to change things. Knowing full well that by not taking the necessary change actions, the consequences will be self evident!
There is no magic answer to how long a transformational program would take. But what is important, is that change management is about doing the things that are necessary and doing them well. In other words being e ective and e cient at what the business and the organisation needs to deliver. This is a very obvious statement that no one disagrees with. But the failure comes when the organisation does not see this being deployed nor practiced. Why then is such an obvious and accepted statement the core of failures in an organisation? This is the 2nd major challenge that the CEO has on his hands. A CEO cannot lead the organsiation the strategic roadmap as well manage the tactical transformational changes. Some organisations expect the CEO to manage both. He can only lead the strategic and tactical but cannot manage both. Successful change management programs have been achieved by entrusting such an initiative to the COO or a high ranking company o cer working closely with the CEO and board. The Change Owner of a transformational program must be empowered at the highest level that will provide the leadership, resources, guidance and governance to achieve the CEO’s Vision ! It is through such an approach that change can succeed and thrive. Having a vision is not enough, it has to be backed by structure, method, empathy and resilience to overcome many challenges – a change owner is a very special person and works through people across all sectors of the company. If you are planning a change management program, the above article is a summary of the course one should take. There will be another update on this topic in a Q4 edition. But meanwhile plan well, prepare for a tough journey but also enjoy the experience – it will be unique!