To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often (Winston Churchill).
Remaining stagnant is not an option and many organisations realise they need to change in order to survive but don’t know exactly what they need to do. Some blindly attempt large scale job losses every other quarter without paying any attention to the negative impact that this can bring – yes it may cut costs in a short time frame however staff left remaining feel betrayed and disenfranchised particularly if the business lurches from one downsizing programme to another. Other organisations, delay making substantial changes for a fear of making the wrong moves or causing too much disruption often resulting in uncontrolled and disastrous cutbacks and losses, too little too late.
The only way that change can be effective is to ensure that it is planned and fully considered, mindful of any potential and unintended consequences. If a business needs to reduce its workforce then all options should be properly and thoroughly analysed with risks (and opportunities) identified prior to any action being taken. This does not mean that unnecessary time is taken to have a plan that is 100 percent otherwise the organisation will suffer paralysis by analysis. Change needs to be managed and controlled addressing key areas such as stakeholder management, employee engagement, financial benefits, PR and internal communications. A risk register should be used to ascertain any risks and opportunities that the proposed change will effect, with actions and controls that are in place or that are needed to mitigate the risks.
The preparation and planning of transformation programmes should confirm whether the proposed change is viable financially, makes good commercial sense, strengthens shareholder value and in the longer term ensures the business is sustainable with its reputation intact. If the organisation can get into good habits when planning for change it can then undertake change more often and effectively, building and developing change capacity and capabilities throughout the business.