Business Productivity

To be or not to be – is your business facing a moment of change?

- November 28, 2018 3 MIN READ

Is your business happily ticking along at a constant speed that makes you feel comfortable?

Would landing that big client or a giant purchase order stretch your current capability beyond its existing state?

Does the idea of large change scare you enough to not pursue growth?

Let’s unpack some of the key change management considerations that arise through any kind of large change, so that you can snap up new opportunities the minute they arise.

The moment of change

Once your business has undergone rapid growth, diversification or a pivot point, there is an inevitable moment where you realise you can’t keep doing things the way they have always been done. The existing functions, processes and daily activities that have sustained and grown your business to date are about to be impacted by a change.

In the land of change management we talk about two states, As Is and To Be, aka the current and the future states of the business.

In order to get to the promise land of the To Be, it is important to understand your existing processes and procedures (which are hopefully all documented!). This becomes critical if you are looking to scale up quickly as a part of the incoming change.

Drilling down into your As Is with questions like:

What is our business currently doing in their daily processes and procedures?

Basically a ‘who does what’ at a really granular level.

What are the unwritten business rules underpinning our daily work procedures?

This refers to all those hidden reasons and rules things are done they way they are. 

The ‘As Is’ is your starting point

The process of discovering the As Is can be akin to deciphering the unique code of your business, drawing out the daily processes and business rules that your business is built on.

The key benefit I have always found whilst mapping any As Is processes is that it starts to prepare you and any staff you might have for change, as they feel like they have been included in the journey right from the start.

Documenting your As Is processes can also be a bit confronting as it draws out all you workarounds and inefficiencies that have been left unnoticed for too long.

Mind the gap

Just like the London Underground transport system, in any change process you need to mind the gap when moving from the train to the platform – the gap is the change. If you used to do X and now you will be doing Z, therefore the change is Y. The impact, cost, size of ‘Y’ will vary, but do not underestimate it!

Transformative change

If you are lucky enough to land a giant client that will see your business grow in profit and staff for the long term, the new design of your business can be exciting stuff.

Think outside the square.

Challenge your assumptions about how you need to operate.

Having the opportunity to create a new future state might be a once only event, so avoid investing excessive time and money resulting in merely a tweaked version of what you are already doing.

Management vs leadership

Seth Godin, American author and entrepreneur, considers the value of change through the lens of leadership and management…

“A manager gets you to do the same thing you did yesterday but faster and cheaper. Leaders are people who take a team and figure out how to solve a problem even though they don’t know how to do it. If you are manager, figure out how to be a leader, if you are a leader figure out how to shine a light on problems.”

This view highlights the different roles and purpose of the As Is and To Be states. If your business is facing a major change as a result of new clients, rapid growth or a diversified product, it will require leadership to break from what is known, to re-imagine the way things can be done.