The influence of internal and external forces mean that all businesses need to change. This is one of the most complex and misunderstood elements of organisational identity.
On the one hand, organisations need a level of stability in order to maintain brand identity and integrity. On the other hand, companies need to be agile problem-solvers that can predict threats and effortlessly respond to them.
Achieving this delicate balance takes skill. As a result, many businesses try to ignore change. When that situation arises, there can be both long-term and short-term consequences.
1) Spiralling inefficiencies
End-to-end value is quickly lost when physical organisational structures are not working in harmony.
This is often the result of misaligned purposes. When customer purpose, employee purpose, and business purpose are in a complex tangle, inefficiencies quickly emerge. This results in a loss of agility, making change incrementally more challenging.
Change agents are able to visualise an organisational climate in order to bring processes into efficient dialogue.
2) Unhealthy organisational climates
Organisations have the inherent capabilities that they need in order to ride the wave of uncertainty of organisational change.
One of the great paradoxes is that the process of change can easily extinguish the flame of resilience. The powerful potential that a company has can fizzle out without correct leadership.
When change is mismanaged, organisational climate suffers, and the result is a loss of productivity.
The answer to this is in bespoke design. Working with organisational architecture, structures and systems can be redesigned to scaffold the change process. In this way, the ideal support mechanisms for adaptive change can be activated, and the climate balanced.
3) Becoming a museum piece
It is often thought that there is a certain honour to be had in noble failure. However, when that failure means the collapse of an organisation, the ‘noble’ element becomes redundant.
When organisations fail to adapt to change, the climate fails, and curtains are drawn.
There is ample evidence for this. From video rental companies that failed to adapt to the rise of online streaming services, to high-street stores that could not navigate the digital economy, to organisations that accidentally sent themselves spiralling into obsolescence by resisting changing consumer demands, the risk of not adapting to business change is high.
Often, a fear of change underpins these outcomes. An attitude of ‘it’s always worked in the past, so it will work in the future’ stifles agility. Learning from the past is positive, but empowering change can best be achieved by capturing the ‘spirit’ of past success, and not necessarily by replicating the same strategies.
4) Being overtaken by competitors
Losing market share can quickly lead to sudden collapse. Even the most iconic companies sometimes find themselves unexpectedly teetering on the brink.
When organisational climate is not primed for change, the effects of external forces and competition can easily become overwhelming. Keeping up a steady pace of innovation in a landscape that is constantly shifting is a dedicated feat of engineering.
Change architecture helps to visualise the process so that organisations are attuned to information flows and responsive to need for change. Often, the system mechanics are already in place: consumers will identify change need. The difference between the winning company and the one that falls behind is the ability to listen and respond.
Change is something that many organisations want to resist, despite the undeniable negative outcomes of doing so. In reality, change is a natural process that seeks to optimise and harmonise organisational capabilities that are already firmly established.
It is often assumed that change means a necessary shift in organisational identity. Rather, well-managed change means maintaining a healthy organisational climate that is primed for agility and forward-thinking success.