Treat organisational change like an Olympic sport, just make sure you pick the right event first

The London Olympics has kicked off in earnest and someone reporting on the news used the phrase “it’s a marathon, not a sprint” when referring to the UK’s rather lacklustre medal count. And it got me thinking. With the economic crisis as it is everyone is treating enterprise change as a 100m dash; it must be done in record time, get it over with and beat the competition. But it shouldn’t work like this.

Organisational transformation should be more like an ‘athlon’, made up of several events focused on endurance and speed, not just speed alone. More often than not it’s the ‘endurance’ that’s dropped which translates to a lack of long term vision and goal in mind for the end of the change itself. Change is being planned as a series of quick wins with little cohesion or strategy and while it means you could get there first, you don’t necessarily understand where ‘there’ is or why you even bothered in the first place, and you run out of energy before the finishing post (and energy in an enterprise sense means the lack of sustained involvement and interest in change or belief that it will deliver the benefit it once set out to achieve).

The missing endurance element is the strategy and longer term vision to outlast the competition while they run out of puff half way.

And if you look at how most BPM and process improvement programmes are run, they’re set up as a series of 100m bursts but no regard to endurance.

Endurance is the difference between getting a Gold and going home empty handed.


2 responses to “Treat organisational change like an Olympic sport, just make sure you pick the right event first

  1. I have to agree with you again TP. My last job, the leaders changed the strategy of the org every year; updating the same goals with new catch phrases. However, nothing changed in the working environment or in the outcomes. My last “BPM” project was hastily completed to meet financial deadlines and the senior mgmt didn’t care about the end result of it. As long as it met the deadline, was financially accounted for and delivered on time and on budget, everyone had their job and all was dandy. I’ve since left that job and when I spoke to my colleagues about this project and what happened to it, quite simply it’s been sitting in the corner of digital pile of crap and no one will clear it till a new system is needed when either the whole set is brought over or everything is scrapped. Drives home the point that leadership has to run BPM and education is paramount. If BPM is strategy, is it safe to say that Biz Process people must have a key say in strategy? They are in the job for a reason after all. Wonder how many actually have a say…

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