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When Organizational Change Is Not an Option: Lessons Learned

June 18, 2020 Leadership
Craig McQueen
By Craig McQueen

Companies are operating very differently this year with the various disruptions caused by COVID-19. In my last article I discussed how technology is helping businesses navigate those changes. The truth is the pandemic is affecting every organization, as well as their customers. These massive disruptions call for massive change should a business want to survive. Change is not an option anymore.

At Softchoice, as with many other companies, our customers were faced with many new issues just to keep business running. We did a few things differently ourselves to meet customer needs. I thought I would share what we have learnt so far from the experience.

Find the Bright Spots

First, find the bright spots. As author Dan Heath discusses in this article, “In times of change, you need what my brother and I call a bright-spots focus. That is, you need to look for the early glimmers that something is going right. And when you find a bright spot, your mission is to study it and clone it.” This could be an initiative, a team or a person.

In our case, one of our managers had a background in Agile delivery (in fact, he teaches it at a college). He saw we needed to develop our solutions differently to speed our delivery time to our customers. He raised his hand to take the lead and bring a different way of working. His approach and leadership were critical in bringing our solutions to market faster and in timely manner so that our customers could benefit from them. He was one of our bright spots.

Related Article: Will We Ever Go Back to the Office Again?

Alignment and Agility Are Key

Alignment and agility are key to adapting to changes and moving the business ahead. Alignment of different departments is the first step to agreeing on an organization-wide change so you can then quickly implement it. Bringing something to market quickly requires involvement across product development, marketing, sales, business development and others. Only by a firm commitment across the departments to align efforts can you get speed.

We introduced multiple weekly meetings across the most senior leadership across the different departments to remove blockers and communicate any changes to the approach. These meetings also allowed the leadership team to make more than one decision a day that were critical to business continuity. We could not have progressed at the pace we did without it. I also received feedback across different departments that they have never seen such strong collaboration before.

Related Article: Has Digital Transformation Left Your Business Continuity Plans Behind?

Adopt an Agile Approach

Adopting an agile approach allows for innovation to happen quickly and effectively, helping organizations pivot and implement change swiftly.

Both the manager who was our bright spot and the weekly executive meetings are signs of being agile. By adopting, testing and learning new ways, organizations can put an agile system in place that will benefit the business in both the short- and the long-term. Help your people develop the skills they need for adapting and customizing all the elements of agility so they can spread agile approach across the organization. This will help your organization be better prepared when the next crisis hits.

Related Article: How Agile Helps Drive Digital Transformation Forward

Turn to Your Partner Community

Leverage your partner community to magnify your efforts. Whether it is a supplier, finance organization or distributor, they are likely doing the same thing as you, which is responding to the market conditions and helping your joint customers as quickly as possible. Use existing working relationships with these partners to accelerate and scale your efforts.

Our relationships with many technology vendors helped us line up our efforts and strengthened our existing work in joint development of solutions.

Don't Try to Boil the Ocean

One thing we did learn to be careful of: there is only so much change an organization can handle at once. Be sure to consider everyone that could be impacted by the change. For example, we wanted to help our customers get the support and guidance they needed to get through this time and so we built a lot of offerings in a short amount of time. While our customers appreciated the resources, it was a lot for our Sales teams, and ultimately our customer, to digest in a short amount of time. The lesson we took away is that more isn’t necessarily better. The key is to pay attention to what is working and refocus efforts on continuing to scale those solutions.

About the Author

As VP of Digital Acceleration, Craig McQueen drives innovation at Softchoice by developing new solutions and services that will help organizations transform through technology at a high pace. He leads a team of skilled consultants, architects, agile PMs, engineers and developers who bring the latest technologies to Softchoice customers, through business understanding and by being deeply integrated with our cloud partners, Microsoft, AWS and Google.


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