Understanding the process of organisational transformation and establishing the critical success factors for achieving change is of practical value for managers of any large organisations faced with the need to adapt to radical changes in the environment. Empower the organisation.  The top management team should delegate to employees as well as motivating and enabling them to act. By going through these stages, organisations can establish new developmental pathways, enhance their strategic flexibility, and react successfully to changes in the environment. Of course there are companies that succeed in constantly reinventing themselves, without the need for the catalyst of a crisis. Also, most of the times, it is the management who needs to change their management approach to make the change successful.
I was with a client this week who was dealing with the creation of networks - in a community of practice sense.
On the other side of my interests, I was contacted recently by the Alan Guttmacher Institute. By coincidence, I spent some time talking by phone with Karen Stephenson this evening, and the conversation turned to the concept of the purpose of networks. Below are the three key stages for managing organisational transformation along with the critical success factors for managing change at each stage. The Board should introduce entrepreneurial outsiders with targeted expertise onto the top management team. Not everything that worked in the past needs to be thrown away.  This will vary from company to company.

The top-down approach of Stage 1 may be still required to break with the past in some parts of the organisation, while other parts may by this stage already have the ability to learn and therefore may be given authority and empowerment to act. This means creating a deliberate change in direction using new capabilities, whether that be in terms of new products, services, processes or business models.
And in many cases, it is hard for the CEO to acknowledge that such transformation is necessary because of an implied criticism that their best efforts have not been enough.
Recently I had an opportunity to undertake change management project with a company in Dubai. They are the ones which has the highest influence on the rest of the company in terms of motivation, changing work culture, giving direction by setting goals and targets, clear deliverables and overall a clear communication to the organization that change is THE need of the hour and needs to be given highest priority and support by indicating the benefits of change not only to the organization’s financials but also the employees such as hassle free work environment, clear bonus and incentive structure and a growth path for high performers. There is so much going on in the world of leadership and organizations, that it seems a good way to try to keep up is to blog. The network ideas they had looked good, yet there were a couple of missing parts which we worked on together. They were considering using a picture I took in Malawi in 2002 as part of a new report they are doing. Exploration enables the organisation to develop new capabilities fitted to its specific context, rather than just importing systems and routines from other contexts. The combination of exploration and path creation will lead you to the “disruptive innovation” that will help you secure sustainable competitive advantage. I think that is why so many examples of organisational transformation come during a time of crisis for the organisation.

I believe the key areas of focus should be the leadership focus and drive, holistic communication framework to ensure the organisational buy-in to the change, the capability assessment of where the organisation is and where it intends to go in the future, early benefit realisation, performance management system to ensure that the organisation is on track to realise the change benefits. In my experience, indeed the decision to change needs to be from top management, however as Denise pointed out, the top management would not want to accept that a change is required as that shows them in bad light in terms of poor management.
First, unlike the internet (a now classic "scale free" network) which really has no intrinsic purpose, networks inside businesses are meant to achieve something - better communication, more ideas, faster action etc. But it seems to me that "alternating between soloing and supporting" may be the real magic.
I think Darwin’s quote sums up the challenge nicely “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. However, one way to get around this, which worked for me, was to find out an area of incompetency which results in under achievement of a strategic goal or not achieving it with the organization’s full potential. So knowing what the purpose is will likely change the way the network is conceptualized.Second, it is my belief that business networks must also focus on actionability in the way the linkages are designed between members - something new should happen, whether it is to build more learning or better results. This kind of presentation makes the management interested and compels a further discussion as to what needs to be done to improve that and at this point all the issues from the roots are brought out which culminates into a change decision.
So transformation does indeed start at the top with a break with the past – my article on breaking with administrative heritage published in the Leadership and Organization Development Journal describes this process in more detail (See reference below).

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