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Rallying your company around business transformation

Disruption has become the new norm, meaning business transformation requires a thoughtful culture shift

What will your business look like in the next two to five years? What disruptive changes do you envision? When might they happen? What are your vulnerabilities? How will you organise to adapt?

If you and your people are not seeking answers to these questions you need to start immediately.

A discussion about change is urgently needed because disruption has become the new norm. New technologies and new service delivery models emerge almost daily, and many are redefining what quality and capability means in the minds of your customers. The window to adapt is narrowing, and companies that fail to organise around agility and resiliency can put themselves on a path to rapid obsolescence.

That said, business transformation is not just about reacting to current trends; you also need to build foundations for longevity.

A common challenge to effective long-range business transformation is a lack of cultural buy-in at all levels of the organisation. Rallying your company around business transformation is never a linear check-box exercise. It requires a thoughtful, and often subtle, culture shift. Ultimately your people are going to make your organisation resilient. You must encourage and empower them to do so.

Creating a resilient culture, while keeping your core business ethos intact, will equip you to tackle new trends, stay competitive and go the distance. Here are the foundational ideas for creating a culture that is agile and fit for the future.

Encourage togetherness

Creating an ongoing all-employee dialogue about transformation will help build a sense of company unity. Engaging employees to co-create a clear, near-term direction will promote ownership and trust. Putting culture before strategy helps embed it into the change process, making it easier to shape attitudes and actions.

Focus on personal motivation

Before the organisation’s culture can change its people must change their perceptions, mindsets and behaviours. Each individual’s motivation will shape their contribution to the effort. Facilitating individual or group discussions about individual aspirations can help each employee understand his or her motivation and discern his or her best role in driving change.

Build trust through recognition

Trust comes when people feel they are working together towards a common goal and when their contributions to achieving that goal are recognised. Telling colleagues and direct reports that you value their input, and calling out their specific achievements, can help create a bond of trust that strengthens esprit de corps and fuels personal passion for the transformation strategy.

Plan for the long term

Beyond short-term goals, it is important to think of the bigger picture and anticipate what the next challenge might be. When creating a future strategy it is wise to involve everyone in the thought process and encourage creativity. Future-state strategising is enriched by a culture that promotes risk-taking, new ideas and a flexible input hierarchy in which all opinions are considered and valued.

Create a narrative

Paint the future you and your teams want. It’s not just about deciding what’s going to change and how. It’s also about inspiring your people to talk about change and engage with the process. Ask your teams to create their own narratives, and let them decide how to communicate their vision and action plan to the wider organisation. You’re all in it together and need to inspire one another to change.

These ideas are essential building blocks for creating an agile, resilient culture that embraces disruption and adapts to it, as opposed to becoming its victim. Applying these approaches will empower your people to create a culture today that is ready for tomorrow.

Jo Aidroos is transformation director at North Highland