What Are Business Change Strategies?
Business change strategies, also known as change-management strategies, are plans of action that help organizations transform, evolve, and adapt to changes, opportunities, and disruptions that are likely to unfold in the future. The principles of business-change strategies focus on the skills and competencies required to scan the business landscape, detect opportunities and vulnerabilities, make decisions, formulate a clear plan of action, and execute it successfully.
In today’s world—where customers’ technological preferences as well as political, economic, and social factors all make an impact on the business landscape—it is vital for organizations to have the agility to capitalize on opportunities and avoid threats. Many people fear change. Business change strategies strive to alleviate this discomfort by providing companies with a roadmap that will help them thrive during crucial transitions.
Change is vital for organizations to stay competitive in the market and to grow. That’s why incorporating business change strategies is essential to appropriately prepare leaders and their employees for what lies ahead.
Businesses have to cope with a never-ending cycle of change. One key to success in business is the ability to either adapt to change or be a disrupter and create change that works in your favor. There are many variables and forces in the business environment that influence an organization’s need for change, but we like to say, “drive or be driven.” What this means is that you have a choice: you can react to change that’s imposed on you or you can be proactive and shape the change that’s coming.
What Factors Influence Business Change Strategies?
There are a number of factors that compel leaders to incorporate strategies for implementing change:
Internal Structural Changes
Transitions such as mergers and acquisitions or expansions require companies to realign their strategies and missions. This may involve shifts in management and/or merging specific departments to allow the business to better cater to the needs of clients and market demands.
Organizations don’t want to be outflanked by competitors, regardless of the shape or size they take. They could be existing rivals, emerging competitors, or clever substitutes for your product or service. In the evolving economic landscape, it should be no surprise that businesses sometimes choose to restructure their brand, values, or products, and sometimes make dramatic changes to their industry. As competitor solutions change, so must you. This is the only way to maintain sustainable competitive advantage and it may call for shifts in direction or focus, such as creating new or innovative concepts, processes, or partnerships.
Society and Culture
Customers’ needs, tastes, and problems are in constant flux. You must be conscious of these changes and ready to evolve and reinvent yourself in order to take advantage of opportunities and avoid unwelcome risks. Every type of organization has to be flexible and agile enough to pivot and shift direction to achieve the outcomes they desire.
As technology continually advances and expands, your company must keep up with developments that can enhance your systems, processes, communications, products, and services. Change-able organizations are curious and embrace learning, experimentation, and growth. To be successful, organizations need to take smart risks as they build and create the future.
What Are the Five Approaches to Accelerate Business Change Strategy?
There are several business change management strategies that leaders utilize can use to optimize the allocation of resources, navigate and manage change effectively, and realistically shift their business in the desired direction when undergoing business changes:
1. Alignment Meetings
At their core, business change-management strategies are all about conversations. Success depends on getting the right people together to explore challenges and issues as well as opportunities and advantages. These sessions allow the enterprise leadership team or teams within any function or level in the business to set priorities, choose initiatives to pursue, and create a narrative about the future direction that can be translated and cascaded throughout the business. The initial planning or “rough framing” of the plan of action begins here. Once it’s underway, the business-change strategy team will be responsible for finishing the work and sourcing and securing the necessary resources and funding. Every six months, a refresher meeting will be needed to realign the team and make course corrections as needed.
2. Results Forum
A companion to the all-important alignment meetings that set the direction for the enterprise is something called a “results forum.” This is where a business’ change-strategy teams are held accountable for progress and where obstacles and responses are mapped out to ensure sustained success with key initiatives and specific projects. These forums are intended to encourage helpful, constructive conversations as well as provide the oversight needed to realize the desired outcomes at the desired pace.
A results forum is the perfect venue for discussing brutal facts and harsh realities. It provides a way to have courageous conversations about change initiatives that need to be accelerated and discuss the support needed to do so. The forum also provides an opportunity to decide if it makes sense to “tap the brakes” on some initiatives or even abandon some strategic-change work that no longer fits the overarching strategy of the business.
3. Changing the Culture
Candidly speaking, embracing change and new business strategies requires a different mindset, and it’s important to convey that every member of the organization is responsible for contributing to the change initiatives and strategic vision of the organization in some way. This work is not the domain of the senior business-leadership team alone.
In order to gain real traction, everyone needs to act on the change. Everyone must determine how they fit and why they matter to the business and its change strategies. In fact, everyone needs to think through and map out their own plan of action for change that is synchronized and supports the organization’s change strategy. Everyone is a solution to someone’s problem; we all have customers and stakeholders to serve, so we all have to change, adapt, and transform. It must be an enterprise-wide phenomenon, baked into the DNA and mindset of every member of the organization.
To be successful with business change strategies, a business needs to provide people with learning opportunities that allow them to develop new skills and competencies and learn how to use the tools and templates that help people at all levels become strategic change agents. Many people are naturally resistant to change; they get attached to the status quo and fear the risks that may accompany the shift. Some instruction on how to be a bit more daring, creative, innovative, and productive helps people mentally prepare for and become advocates of change.
People need to be emboldened and encouraged to experiment, get on the “balcony,” and see business change strategies and their personal contributions to those initiatives from a “big picture” perspective. Everyone needs to think like an investor and determine when and where they can take smart risks that will help them transform and advance the organization so it can be more resilient and agile in a dynamic business environment.
5. Exercising Authority
Whether it’s self-interest, misunderstanding, or a low tolerance for change, some individuals persistently resist the shifts that the business requires. Sometimes, organizations do not have time to prepare staff members for change in an adequate way.
In these situations, businesses often opt to execute changes quickly through coercive strategies like conducting transfers or layoffs. This strategy will help you achieve what you need within a specific timeframe, but be warned: this approach may breed resentment and disrepute down the line.
As unexpected events arise, organizational leaders must establish and maintain business change strategies. Remaining strong through discomfort can craft a company rooted in success.