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Creating and Embedding Sustainable Change

Head, Heart and Hands
Shoulder–to–Shoulder Together

For a company to be successful, Chief Executives need to formulate the right strategy and then execute it. Sounds simple – in theory! Set this against the backdrop of a constantly evolving business landscape and the dynamics shift considerably.

Chief Executives battle on many fronts. As the pace of change accelerates, strategies are frequently obsolete or in need of significant adjustment part way through the execution phase.

Any canny Chief Executive needs to keep ahead of this curve and needs to bring the workforce along that path too.

Research tells us that up to 70% of change programmes fail. The reasons for this failure lie less in the lack of a vision, viable strategy or well thought-out plan, but more in the company’s inability to execute successfully.

For many Chief Executives the greatest challenge is in the journey: the charting of the right path through the change process. Transforming an organisation is a daunting task. To be successful, the Chief Executive must ensure all the resources are in place to achieve the plan and crucially that the people and organisation are capable of sustaining the new direction over time.

With input from Paul Manduca, Ed Hanway, Gordon Peeling, Bernard Attali, Jim Roberts and Warren Holmes, we underline the power of disciplined execution and identify the key to success for embedding sustainable change.

Executing with discipline

Executing the plan with discipline requires getting into the very tissue and fibre of an organisation, where the work actually gets done. The two fundamental building blocks that create the infrastructure to execute on strategy are sound processes (improving the organisation through redesign) and a measurement system (installing Key Performance Indicators). All too often, transformation initiatives, including many of the popular management methodologies such as Lean, Six Sigma or the hybrid of the two, focus on these two elements. What they lack is the power that turbo-charges improvement initiatives, namely people.

Capturing heads, hearts and hands

The large majority of executives recognise the need to shepherd people through change. Fewer, however, know how to achieve this in practical terms. Yet it is this concept of capturing the “head, hearts and hands” of people that truly unleashes the full power that the workforce represents in any change programme.

Getting the change message out is the first critical step and then pragmatically helping people apply it at the point of execution in the actual work environment will ensure success. In essence getting the understanding and conviction are the “head and heart”. But, in order to make this sustainable, any new behaviours need to be embedded to avoid slippage and prevent people reverting to their old ways of workings. Thus, it is this final step of continuous coaching that represents the “hands” and the ability to execute the new ways of working on a consistent and unwavering basis.

So, for companies wishing to be part of the 30% of organisations whose strategy is executed and the change programme a success, capturing heads, hearts and hands may just tip the odds of success in their favour.

Read the full report.

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