Tuesday, 2 May 2017

The Business of Change - An Amazing Corporate Tale

Our world is one of constant change and none more so than in Corporate Life.

Going back to another century, he had the 5 or so year cycle of centralisation, followed by de-centralisation and the cycle repeated itself about every 5 years.

Titles change. What was once the Personnel Manager, became the Manager - Human Resources and then the Chief of People. I am not sure what the current incarnation is.

We have seen organisation ‘integrate’, ‘segregate’ and even ‘disintegrate’. We have cost transfer methods, internal service hubs and cells of independence.
We have ‘strategised’, ‘corporatised’, ‘internalised’ and ‘outsourced’. We have even ‘harmonised’.

A former colleague at a major bank had occupied 12 positions in a 13 year period during which he submitted internal job applications on 9 separate occasions. His role hardly changed during these 13 years. His was not a lone experience.

Change is good, change is necessary, is the mantra and quite rightly too!

There is even a new profession in vogue, sorry, we now say a ‘New Job Family’. It is called the Change Manager. I know several and they are highly intelligent, highly qualified and capable individuals. Intellectually, I know they are important and necessary. I just don’t really know what it is they do; other than saying “they manage change” I cannot describe what they do.

And what about the people. They become ‘unemployed’, ‘redeployed’, ‘displaced’, ‘surplused’, ‘promoted’, ‘advantaged’, ‘opportunised’ and often just plain surprised.

Organisational structures are rolled out, released, launched, tweaked, updated and even announced.

It seems the first major initiative after a new structure has been implemented is to commission a strategic review to ensure the organisation is on track to meet objectives and the structure is appropriate to do so. Maybe it needs amending?

I vividly recall flying out of Brisbane on a Northern Tour to announce new sales and marketing plans. 9 months of work had gone in to determining a “better way”. I conducted meetings in Rockhampton in the morning and Mackay after lunch before travelling to and overnighting in Townsville. I turned my phone on after reaching the terminal (as you did then) to find a message from my Head Office based Chief asking me to call him urgently, as soon as I received this message no matter what time of day or night.

I called and was advised the plans of 9 months are being abandoned, the strategy is being reviewed, by all means continue your trip but make it a PR visit. I argued, or questioned what had happened explaining how well my meetings in Rockhampton and Mackay had gone. Apparently, a few tough questions were asked at a Regional New South Wales meeting and panic set in. Everything else on day one, Nationally, went superbly.

I was in conversation today about a structural transformation at a friend’s employer. The need for a change was announced some 18 months ago, stage one was released in February 2016 and the next and final stage was due in June 2016. This was delayed until October and the day before announcement, was put back another few weeks.

The announcement finally took place with implementation to be staged. A key Executive then left and it was put on hold so their replacement could review the plan. My friend has been in limbo for 18 months and is feeling the stress, the uncertainty and the trepidation that with each review, their position will be eliminated.

It all makes sense, but then again, none of it makes sense.

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