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Optimising financial processes

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The 8 Traps in Change & Transformation


In a recent survey, 75% of business leaders agreed that the business emphasis is now shifting, as a result of the crisis, from enterprise-wide transformation initiatives to more targeted process change and continuous improvement.

Our research showed that some of the biggest transformational challenges remain present whether you choose to “Go Large” or go “Small, Incremental and Continuous”. Encountering these hurdles is inevitable… but, if we identify them early, leaping or avoiding them can be a whole lot easier.

This was the premise of our webcast “8 Hidden Traps in Change & Transformation”. Our guest speaker, Steve Fox, former Head of Global Business Services at the $26bn Thermo Fisher Scientific, harvested his many years of industry and leadership experience to share his experiences. observations and vital tips for managing change and transformation initiatives.

The first lesson he reminded us was that “there are NO silver bullets” or “Easy Hacks” and, whatever the scale of change you plan to make, you need everyone to make a lot of small steps go right, one after the other, no slip-ups, with everyone pitching in. There is no overnight short cut to improvement, it is an incremental and continuous exercise.

Steve then proceeded to reveal The 8 Traps and describe some of scars and bruises he still has from encountering them!

  1. Poor Process Understanding
  2. Weak Stakeholder Alignment
  3. Death by Data
  4. Torture by Technology
  5. Lack of Governance Agility
  6. Opaque Accountability
  7. Failing to Sustain the Gain
  8. Inertia of Culture and Behaviors

So, what were the lessons? Understandably there were at least 8 . . . Some of the lessons resonated with me specifically, not least;

The importance of process understanding… Deep understanding of process is complex, from organizational and geographical context, up- and down-stream impacts, process component steps, working practices, system capabilities, controls and polices, performance measures, the roots of productivity and effectiveness, an understanding of the role of process defects and more. We underestimate just how complex our processes actually are. We need to nurture and consult the knowledge in our organization.

Technology in transformation… It’s easy to assume that automation is the answer, and many times it is a core component of the solution. But, “elimination is the best automation”, and streamlining the process before applying automation is the best habit of all. Ill thought out technology solutions can quickly do more bad than good. Slow down, take a deep breath and think hard first and consult widely across stakeholders and process participants and subject matter experts.

Behavioral change… Steve talked about the need for “creative collaboration” and the role our brain chemistry plays in driving positive behaviors and outcomes. Developing an accountability culture is vital to success. Learning to listen, consult and consider and then own the decisions we make will help avoid a blame culture. Ideas will surface easier and people will act with greater transparency. Develop a collective stamina, it’s imperative for everyone drives improvement every day. Finally, celebrate the success. Adopt and institute merit-based culture and don’t be afraid to be proud, public and personal. 

To round off, we asked in very few words… In your experience, what is the single biggest key to success in your experience of transformation or process change? To represent everyone’s input we generated a word-cloud, it’s a different way of seeing the nuances… have a look for yourself below. 

You can see the webcast recording with polls and poll results here

Thanks for reading . . .