Realization that change is the only constant is an imperative in strategic business planning. All successful, market-leading companies have embraced the need to change. The most successful seem stable, but are in a constant state of flux:
- Companies like Ford and Apple are known innovators
- DuPont, one of the world’s largest chemical companies, started life as a gunpowder manufacturer
- 3M was founded as a mining company
- Nokia was a paper mill in 1865
While these examples are at the extreme end of change, they serve to show that transformational change management is an essential for organizational longevity. The question is, how do you begin to develop a strategy to accelerate the change process?
In this article, you’ll learn how to jumpstart your change acceleration process. You’ll discover how to assess the change needed, and uncover the roadblocks that could cause your change efforts to grind to a halt.
Assessing what change is needed
Unless you identify the changes that your organisation needs to make, it will be impossible to create the vision and sense of urgency required to change at pace. The vision will provide the focal point for change. It is the destination that your organization plans to reach. Urgency creates the impetus to drive the organization forward.
Identifying your destination
Identifying where your organization needs to get to is a task which shouldn’t be underestimated. It’s also the first opportunity to instil a culture of change across your organization. It provides the window to test organizational readiness for change, and get everyone involved in the process of accelerated change. You’ll need to answer key questions which will help shape your business strategy:
- What are your core competencies?
- What are your liabilities?
- Who are your competitors and customers?
The strategy to shape your strategy
A strategic approach to identifying your vision is essential. You’ll be attempting to predict your customers’ needs and your competitors’ positioning months and years from now. You’ll also need to look inside your own organization to identify if your people, organizational structure, beliefs and values are prepared for fast-track transformational change.
A SWOT analysis enables identification of your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
Internally, identify your strengths and weaknesses. Your strengths are the fuel that provides the energy for change. Weaknesses could hold you back. Examine:
- Organizational structure
- Other stakeholders (such as suppliers and investors)
Externally, you’ll find both opportunities and threats. For example:
- Customers – changing needs
Ask questions of everyone and everything
A SWOT analysis seeks to answer a wide range of deep questions. These questions should be asked of individuals, teams and organizations. They will help to identify what needs to change, why it needs to change, and how change can be best planned.
Here are twenty questions as a starting point for your SWOT analysis:
- What do you do well?
- What are your current market strengths?
- What is the direction of your journey at the present time?
- Is your organizational culture conducive to change?
- What can be improved?
- Is your technology up to date and prepared for the future?
- Is retraining needed?
- How loyal are your customers?
- What new markets are opening?
- Will customers pay more for your products and services?
- What are the market trends?
- What is your organizational positioning relative to these trends?
- How well do your current products and services penetrate your market?
- What obstacles inhibit your success?
- How is the competition tackling their challenges?
- Do regulations hamper your business?
- How will an economic slowdown affect your business?
- Can you influence market trends?
- How fast could you respond to new competition or new products from competitors?
- Do you anticipate demand for your products to decline?
Likely roadblocks on the journey of accelerated change process
During the SWOT analysis, it’s likely that you’ll discover barriers that could bring your transformational change to a standstill. By identifying these early, you’ll be able to create a flexible strategy to keep your ambitions on track. Such barriers include:
- Fear of the unknown
- The amount of effort that is needed
- Fear of loss of autonomy
- Commitment to the way things have always been done
- History of failed change projects
- Lack of commitment at board level
- Organizational inertia
With this understanding, you will be able to tackle these roadblocks and create strategies to overcome resistance to change in the workplace.
The multiple roles of SWOT analysis
SWOT analysis is an essential business tool for transformational change management. It generates engagement and urgency, and informs vision. It is this vision that will keep your people focused on the prize. Make it so that your vision can be communicated in a couple of powerful sentences. The easier it is to communicate your vision, the easier it is for others to buy into it.
To accelerate the change process and create a compelling vision, use a SWOT analysis. This will help you:
- Assess what’s happing in your organization
- Identify the major blockages and threats to change success
- Inform the strategic processes needed to navigate the journey of change
To discover how a Change Agent Bootcamp and coaching in consulting and facilitating will help to encourage employee engagement, contact Forward Focus today.