Change design: the missing component to advance your strategy execution?
Successful strategy execution isn’t just about understanding the why behind the target future state. It’s also about delivering true transformation through change design and detailed tactics (the what and how). The best leaders get this planning right.
Most companies know where they want to go. They want to be more agile, quicker to react, and more efficient. They want to deliver great customer experiences, take advantage of new technologies to cut costs, improve quality and transparency, and build value. And they fully appreciate that implementing a transformation of this scale takes careful planning and a detailed strategy, which affects both people and culture.
And yet, we still see a 70% failure rate in strategy realisation.
It begs the question: why do the most brilliant strategies fail (and how can we defy the odds)?
Harvard Business Review points the finger squarely at strategy execution: “executional excellence is the number one challenge facing global corporate leaders.” It confirms what we see in our consulting work: success at large-scale transformation demands more than the best business strategy.
Let me share a scenario we see play out. Tell me if it sounds familiar.
A trigger creates an imperative for change to the prevailing business operating model. The trigger (or the why) can be anything from a merger and acquisition, digital transformation adoption, company turnaround, or need for better alignment of culture and performance. A change project is initiated and a Big 4 consulting group comes in to review and refine the strategy. Box ticked.
Armed with a compelling case for change, a best-in-class strategy, and a clear future-state vision, organisations communicate the why of change, trusting that will be enough to mobilise people toward the business strategy. In their enthusiasm, they skip from strategy, straight into solutions mode.
The result? Staff destabilised by uncertainty. Internal change managers and communicators playing catch up to understand impact details, and drive readiness and mobilisation. An executive team grappling with strategic drift, controlling chaos and handling resistance.
This is how commercially sound change projects end up rolled back, abandoned or blowing out.
Why? Because most folks radically underestimate the level of detail needed to renovate their business, let alone a knock-down and rebuild scenario. Knowing where you want to go is vastly different to knowing how to navigate there (or having the in-house skills to lead the way). Harder still, is knowing how to overcome stakeholder resistance to ambiguity (often dressed up as resistance to change).
The “Why” is the easy part. The “What” and the “How” call for deeper examination.
And that requires a framework, a roadmap, and a way of thinking. Enter, Number 8 Consulting and the change design methodology we’ve road-tested in numerous organisations.
Leaders that see the value of change design can leapfrog their way to strategy success.
Picture this: you have a map and road signs to guide you through your change journey to ensure you maintain momentum through different terrains, while navigating through uncharted territory. You’ve followed a methodology to create plans, boil down complexity, create clarity, and provide stakeholders with an understanding of business change impact. You’ve got a clear focus on putting in place the building blocks that drive change across the organisation, and a suite of transformation tactics that suits your situation and reduces ambiguity.
That’s what change design does.
Change design methodology has several important contributions to make:
- Leverages change architecture not only to articulate and detail the business strategy, but also to create guidance that drives execution toward that future-state vision. Organisations that build clarity of what needs to change (organisationally, operationally, and individually) are providing a better runway of what to move towards. Lights on.
- Supports the alignment of strategic objectives and tactical demands, ensuring optimal strategy execution (and mitigation of strategy execution risks).
- Offers benefits over and above change management, ADKAR, change resistance, change communications efforts alone. Add change architecture to the mix, and you’ve supercharged your ROI.
- Provides a much richer and more complete picture for leaders to make strategic decisions, like:
- Should we DIY, or engage specialised subject matter experts to help us get there?
- Should we renovate parts of our business, or knock down and rebuild core parts of our business?
- How long will it take us and how might we prioritise the transition?
- Can we afford to do it all, or do we need to de-scope and make some compromises?
Change design in practice: a methodology for unlocking strategy success
Guided by a holistic change design approach, our change management and organisation design consultants act as architects, working the steps to design your ambitions and create coherence between the moving parts.
Here’s how our change design methodology works:
- Sketch: We start with a high level sketch, AKA ‘end state’. Our first phase will advance your vision to life by bringing clarity on the drivers and characteristics needed. A picture tells (and sells) a thousand words which is gorgeous and exciting, right?
- Detailed blueprint: Beginning with the idea that a good blueprint is critical to the success of building a house, the detailed drawing (AKA blueprint) we develop informs the team (leaders, Subject Matter Experts, project personnel) on what needs to change, in what area, in what form, and by whom. It is a holistic ‘end state’ of what your Enterprise, Division, Team, Individual will look like in the future. A blueprint provides the clarity on which you’ll start to strategise on navigating the transition. It’s ‘what needs to change’, and we think this precedes ‘why we need to change’ when making the case to the people in your organisation.
- Tactics: Even change with a well-crafted appeal will need effort to see it through. That’s why we specify the tactics you’ll need to deploy. Tactics are how you’ll start to understand who’s impacted, how, and when they will be impacted. Think of tactics as the demolition steps you’ll need to undertake and the selections you’ll need to turn on. In other words, outlining the capabilities, processes, structures, technologies et al you’ll need to stop, adjust or start doing to achieve your end state.
Strategy execution shouldn’t be by luck. It should be by (change) design.
There’s no shortage of advice and resources on executing a strategy to realise a future-state vision. Most of it begins with articulating the why or acknowledging a buzzy-means to instantly implement. The missing piece of the puzzle is what and how, aka the change design process. It’s this detail that sees our Number 8 Consulting clients transform through clarity of vision, effective strategy, and clever change architecture into resilient, agile, and thriving organisations.
Is your organisation feeling the burden of complex change, without gaining the traction you’re after? There’s a better way. Reach out and learn how our change design methodology can unlock the true value of your change project.
#no8consulting #changearchitecture #changeblueprint #changeisinfinite