The Challenge of Change
Dealing with change is a challenge that everyone faces throughout their lives. Retailers and retail software companies face the challenge of change on a regular basis.
Some are small and others are larger in nature. In our industry, the need to change is sometimes brought about by external market forces like the global economy, shifting market requirements like mobile commerce, omni-channel trading, social media, etc., or through a formal, corporate decision to chart a new path or realign to expanded corporate objectives.
As I complete my first six months as the new president of Jesta I.S., I thought it might be interesting to provide a point of view on dealing with change and what goes into planning for it and helping manage it.
Is Change Necessary?
The first question you have to ask is: “Is change necessary?” This is something each company needs to evaluate for itself. Our decision criteria was based on a review of our technical infrastructure, organizational structure, processes, etc., and compared those to our corporate mission and vision statements. Our goal was to document and determine if any changes were needed in order to achieve our strategic objectives. A list of recommendations was drafted and refined in order to provide a summary of the proposed changes, clearly articulating how they supported the corporate objective and the impacts of both adopting and not adopting the change.
Internal, External Impacts
Changes we make to our organization will have impacts internally and externally. Clearly articulating the reasons and the process of change will alleviate some of the anxiety and mitigate some of the risks. Some of the risks associated with change include potential alienation of employees and existing customers, destabilization of currently effective communication and collaboration processes and misunderstanding of why changes are being made.
In our case, changes are being made to prepare Jesta for the next wave of organizational growth and new revenue opportunities. We made it clear to our staff and partners that we were making changes not because things were not working but because we were growing. The opportunity analysis and impact statements were summarized within the change management documentation for each operational group affected for their review and input.
Communication And Collaboration Is Key
The resulting document became the initial blueprint for the change management process that can now be clearly and consistently articulated from one end of the management chain to the other end of the execution chain. I used the words “initial blueprint” for a reason; plans will and should change as part of the normal execution process. That is not to say that you are deviating from your objectives, but that you are considering factors you were not aware of earlier. As the blueprint is unveiled to the operational teams, their input becomes critical to refining the plan to fit their processes while still respecting the objectives. What you are trying to achieve is more important than the “how.” The benefit of this communication and adjustment process is that the objectives are internalized and adopted as “their” goals refined, discussed and adopted through efficient communication.
Change is dynamic and ongoing: There is no true “endpoint” to corporate evolution. We can implement the organizational and process changes to restructure how we work and who we work with, but the process of how we work will continue to evolve as the day-to-day situations dictate. The goal of the management team was to deliver a flexible, re-architected infrastructure of both resources and processes to support the future growth of the company. We kept what we know worked, based on input from our customers, teams and partners, and re-allocated resources and processes to reflect a more efficient and scalable infrastructure. As in life, the only thing constant is change.