Recently, IMA president Don Harrison led a webinar entitled, “Change Challenges: Extreme Edition” in which he discussed the extreme challenges faced by organizations during transformational change. For the past 30+ years, Don has focused his work on helping organizations to implement large-scale, complex changes in organizations.
Transitioning to a Shared Services model is one of the most common transformational changes we see in our Change Management Consulting work. The rationale for this type of enterprise-wide change is clear-- why support redundant services such as IT, Human Resources, Financial and/or Legal, in each organizational silo when there can be one corporate-wide resource that is shared? But… the question is… are organizations achieving true benefit realization from their Shared Services implementations?
Lately in our Change Management Consulting work, we are seeing a lot of organizations who are strategically hoping to become customer-centric-- or for those of our clients in the health care industry, patient-centric. Simply put, these organizations are making changes to their inherent culture to make their primary focus the customer they are serving rather than the product they are trying to sell.
So many organizations are moving toward a Shared Services model. The business case for this type of transformational change is undeniably strong. Shared Services consolidates redundant business units used by multiple parts of the organization. When complete, this type of enterprise-wide change has been proven to reduce costs and increase efficiencies.
If you are part of a project team assigned to enterprise-wide change you will need to have Change Agents to support the implementation. Yes, members of the project team will likely be Change Agents, but you will need to build a network as well.
Most clients we deal with in our change management consulting have several common challenges. Certainly there is the Sponsorship challenge. Second to that, and very much related, is the challenge of implementing cross-functional changes. At the heart of these cross-functional changes is the expressed (or unexpressed) desire to have the organization operate more collaboratively.
There are many strategic changes that are highly desirable on paper but require a shift in the organization's culture. Changes like Shared Services, ERP implementations, Business Transformation, and Lean/Six Sigma have great potential upside value but may also go against the grain of the organization's culture. When you are dealing with a change that has cultural implications, you need to be prepared for one of two options!
As change management consultants, we are attuned to business trends and their implications for implementation. The next wave of change management methodology application may well be in building a "collaborative culture." The advent of social technology has brought with it increased emphasis on increasing communications and collaborations with external customers. But the real value of collaboration is largely untapped.