Adapt or Die – Most organisations that aren’t able to react to today’s constant evolving markets and are failing. Successful change management is a challenge for many organisations. We may recall once successful organisations which were not able to react to the developments in their market:
- Kodak failed because they were unable to make use of their own technological advantage in digital photography.
- Nokia failed because they were unable to react fast enough to the technological advantages of new products of non-competitor companies.
- General Motors failed because of the size of its operations and its inability to quickly react to the real market’s needs.
Adaptive organisations are more successful
On the other hand we are all aware of companies which embraced the concept of a constant evolving organisation and are either leading or reacting to market developments.
- Google is successful because it constantly experiments on new products on a small market and therefore learns, adapts and innovates constantly. From a search engine, they developed into the biggest advertising company in the world.
- Handelsbanken is successful because it distributes a lot of authority and control to its team and values personal exchange over technological advancements.
- Toyota is successful because it understood current market situations and challenges and built a reactional, hierarchical structure which empowered the individuals to judge not based on simple numbers, but on their intelligent judgements.
Team matters in change management
As displayed in these successful examples, organisations need to implement behavioural patterns that allow the organisation to constantly learn and evolve. This requires a company to have a constant change management system in place – a system which describes how the organisation is allowed to learn and improve. Google and Toyota both relied on their learnings in acquisition skills as well as the judgement of their own employees. By giving every employee the possibility to use 20% of their working time to create new ideas, some of the most used tools of Google have been shipped out to the market: Google Mail is now probably the most used E-Mail service in the world.
Similarly, Toyota introduced a system of trust. By guaranteeing employment until retirement as well as using best judgement and not management authority to stop the production line they were able to increase uptime in its lean manufacturing system far exceeding their competitors in mass production. It goes without saying that Toyota is one of the few car manufacturers to stay relevant in the economic crisis between 2008 and 2013.
In most learning and evolving organisations, leadership is heavily involved in the process and trusts their organisation, mostly to make the right adjustments to navigate in a constantly evolving market. While having full commitment by leadership, Change Management is a function in an organisation, which is not lead solely by authoritative figures but needs to have the full organisational involvement to be successful.