In the face of adversity: how Dame Moya Greene delivers large-scale transformation
Following Odgers Connect’s recent evening event with Dame Moya Greene; Adam Gates, Head of Odgers Connect, explains how the former CEO of the UK Royal Mail delivers large-scale transformation against all the odds
A rapidly increasing ‘pace of change’ is an oft-quoted phrase amongst all of our clients with emerging digital technologies, evolving customer behaviours and regulatory pressures cited as the primary instigators in the need to transform organisations.
However, with the speed of disruption outpacing traditional methods of transformation, no longer can businesses rely on the archaic and inflexible playbooks of the large management consultancies. It’s a sentiment that rang true with much of the advice provided by Dame Moya Greene during her talk on the privatisation and flotation of the Royal Mail Group to over 50 senior executives at our recent client event.
This is her advice for successfully delivering large-scale transformation in the face of internal resistance, stakeholder immutability and mounting public scrutiny.
The Executive team
It is critical that you have the entirety of the executive team on board as they will need to keep the business alive whilst it is undergoing the stresses of implementing the programme. This means relying on your c-suite peers, not only to help drive the transformation programme but also to ensure there is enough ‘money in the pot’ to keep the business going whilst costs are increasing.
Digital transformation is a costly, complex and time-consuming process that may yield few results in the short-term. As such you need at least one person on the Board who is going to champion the change programme amongst their peers and fight your corner when the going gets tough.
Contrary to popular belief, being a visionary is not an essential ingredient when it comes to delivering organisational change. However, having a plan is. Practical steps will not only help you to deliver the change programme, but will also give you that much needed credibility when reporting into your Board.
A board or CEO advisor can be an invaluable asset for any senior leader but when it comes to driving change within an organisation, this individual should be selected carefully. If this person is too ingrained within the company or one of its long-standing consulting partners, they may be unable to provide you with the ‘hard truth’ or unbiased advice that you need.
This individual not only needs to be in a position of independence to give you all the facts but also needs to be an effective mediator between you and the board. What’s more, they should be able to give you a realistic budget to stick to and will be someone who is happy to roll their sleeves up and take on some of the work load when you become too stretched.
It is worth bearing in mind that an advisor can help you, guide you and mentor you, but they aren’t there to drive you – you need to bring that to a transformation programme yourself.
If your transformation is a large, complex programme that will fundamentally change the entirety of the organisation, there will always be resistance from employees. To overcome this, there needs to be a profound reason for change that you can draw upon as a catalyst for securing buy-in from your workforce.
In addition to this catalyst, being visible amongst all levels of employees, as well as spending time on the proverbial ‘shop floor’ will give you the opportunity to talk to your workforce and ‘take the temperature’ of the current sentiment towards change. With this intelligence, it will be that much easier when rolling out your transformation programme.
This will also enable you to identify those individuals who are going to be on your side and help you carry out the plan and drive it throughout the various levels of the organisation. You have 24 months before ‘change fatigue’ sets in so it’s important to have people who believe in and will help drive your plan.
With your catalyst for change in hand, you then need to get your arms around the entire organisation and identify the biggest processes that will undergo the most significant transformation. With this in mind, you need to ‘get control of the cash’ and understand where your income is going to be generated and how the transformation will impact cash flow – right through from product design and marketing to sales and contractual agreements.
Ultimately you don’t need to be the ‘Steve Jobs of change’ to carry out a successful transformation but you do need a plan, the right advisors and executive colleagues and importantly the impetus to make all of it necessary in the eyes of your workforce.