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Triggering Transformation: Change by Choice

In a business world beset by change and surprise, bedrock truths remain. When properly built and maintained, machines – including IT systems – do what they were designed to do. But those machines or systems only create value when interacting with people: specifically, your customers and your employees.

Proudfoot took a close look at successful change in Triggering Transformation. We surveyed over 200 front line managers and team leaders from companies in the US, the UK, France, Germany, Australia, China and Brazil. What we learned in short is: While senior leaders must lead, ultimate success or failure depends on how well those leaders enlist the energy, creativity and commitment of those closest to the work. That energy, creativity and commitment is there to harness, but sadly too often neglected.

The Triggering Transformation report is organized around three themes:

  1. People trigger change, regardless of technological or external influences.
  2. Senior leaders must focus front line team leaders on the critical decisions and actions.
  3. Thriving sustainably in the face of rapid technological change, requires new business models that can only be shaped and deployed with broad involvement and commitment.

People Trigger Change

You, as a business leader, play a vital role in driving your company’s transformation. Yet you have only a limited number of actual levers available. Successful leaders stoke their peoples’ aspirations; they build excitement. Those leaders help their people develop ideas, then let that information flow freely. People understand their roles and how they contribute to positive change. They understand and buy into their own stake in the transformation – “What’s in it for me?”. They aspire to succeed.

In the tumult of transformation, effective communication facilitates rapid decision making and quick response to changes. It enables employees to serve the demands of the current market, while leaning forward – building bridges to the future.

Senior Leaders Create Focus

Front line personnel must focus on the tasks at hand. During transformation it is particularly difficult for them to break free from long-successful behaviors. Customers, too, want what they want. Now.

The most effective leaders stay close to their front line and their customers. While they make decisions, they simultaneously foster two-way communication. They know that while they may see broad trends, they are too removed from the details to micro-manage. In practice, their front line people make the “micro decisions” that add up to successful transformation. Those senior leaders who engage their entire organizations and stay close to their customers will survive today. And they will create the winners of the future.

New Technology: New Models

Neither the direst predictions of doom, nor the rosiest dreams of bliss ever materialize. Technical change brings disruption and new opportunities. Yet those changes and the impacts of those changes are rarely predicted accurately. By anyone. Successful transformation leaders create sense of “one foot in the present, and one in the future.” They lack a crystal ball, so they engage front line personnel and customers to help shape and adapt the transformation as it is underway.

By building effective business processes, creating a high-communication environment, and helping their people to maintain enthusiasm these leaders harness their greatest source of power: their people. They implement well-planned change built on frequent, visible successes. They tap in to the knowledge and commitment of their people in concrete. They adapt.

Read more in Triggering Transformation 

We hope that you find the Triggering Transformation report thought provoking and useful. This is a series of postings – written, podcast and video – by Proudfoot executives providing concrete advice for executives in the throes of change.

Proudfoot helps clients to meet current challenges more successfully and has done so for over 70 years. Through waves of technical and social change, Proudfoot’s clients lead their industries. If this report and our ideas help you to shape your firm’s future, then we will have been successful.

What if you could capitalize on your people's talent and energy to build lasting success? With Proudfoot, you can.


Article by Nick Palmer, EVP, Transformation, Proudfoot.