In a rapidly moving landscape, organisations that manage continuous change stand the best chance for growth and success. The key is to prepare today’s workforce for tomorrow. There’s no denying that the pace of change is constantly increasing. To keep up, organisations must be proactive and strategic in their approach to ensure less disruptive transformation (but transformation nonetheless).
According to Tony Cohn, Business Development Manager at Orgvue, “Business transformation is a universal and pervasive challenge with a chequered history. Globally, almost 8 in every 10 transformation projects fail. Most of these are digital transformation projects, amounting to $900 billion in wasted investment every year. The priority should be to move to on-going monitoring of the organisational operating model’s health, converting strategic workforce planning to operational workforce planning.”
To achieve a progressive operating model, Cohn believes three key elements should be considered. The first is to continuously monitor the health of the organisation. The second is to build a sustainable organisational planning and analysis (OP&A) capability. The third is to reduce the need for painful, demoralising large-scale transformations. “The goal is to move from event-based, reactive transformation to ongoing monitoring and adjustments,” he adds. “This approach leads to smaller, more frequent, less disruptive, and internally driven change. It is palatable yet powerful, and usually yields more sustainably positive results.”
When attempting to meet constant disruption, the best approach is constant design. To design for disruption, the organisation must develop an understanding of the constant, fluctuating change in both the macro- and micro-environments, and how these changes affects the organisation. “From big moments that affect the business, but are outside of its control, to mergers and acquisitions, and other major disruption events, defining a strategic response to change and its impact on the workforce is the best way to manage disruption,” believes René Schoeman, Human Capital Specialist Consultant at LabourGenie.Net.
Today, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, organisations are dealing with more silos than ever before. Enforced remote working and innovation means communication and engagement are suffering, and many business leaders are at a loss for what can be done about this. Cohn confirms that the business must understand the workforce in detail, relying on the latest technologies to track organisational workflow – and then separating those activities that can be performed remotely from those that are better done in-person.
“The idea is to harness more data to view the workforce through different lenses, to model how redesigning roles or restructuring business units would affect costs and outcomes – all before committing to any changes,” he adds. “This insight empowers proactive planning based on real-time information, and ensuring people are in the right place at the right time to deliver the right work.”
Fewer distractions, less commuting, and a smaller amount of sick days taken means productivity actually increased during the global Coronavirus lockdowns. Resultantly, it is reasonable to expect that most industries will not return to traditional office work. Yet the requirements for innovation and collaboration should not be put aside to make room for working from home. Instead, organisations should think holistically about the workforce, enabling people to collaborate effectively in a hybrid work environment.
“It is planning that will allow people to come together in a new era of work,” confirms Schoeman. “This requires understanding where and what work needs to be done and how to upskill people to perform at their best, while allowing leaders to assess current organisational capability to meet business needs.”
Covid-19 may have accelerated the pace of digitisation but with or without the pandemic, it was already a likely eventuality. Essentially, businesses are planning for a future that’s already here. “Ultimately, the onus is on business leaders to decide on a new way of working and to do so quickly. Those who don’t fully understand their organisational data won’t be able to grasp their future with confidence. In this climate, the organisations that succeed will be those which are already looking at their workforce and operations through different lenses, determining which options offer the best advantage for their business and their people; all while making decisions based on genuine insight, driven by innovative technologies,” concludes Cohn.