Last month, we hosted our first Change, Cheese & Wine roundtable event, chaired by Westpac’s Change Director, Temre Green, alongside Associate Director James Holland, Co-CEO Andrew Sully and myself. Joining us for a fantastic evening of food, wine and thought-provoking discussions were 13 change executives from various backgrounds (from Financial Services and Insurance to FMCG). It was the perfect opportunity for everyone to come together and share their experiences (and the issues they are tackling!) in a relaxed, open forum. Over the next couple of weeks, I will be putting pen to paper and reflecting on the evening’s key discussions – in part one, it’s all about the pace and nature of change.

Our industries are responding to a number of external and internal factors, which have dramatically shaped the change and transformation programs coming through our businesses. Several questions were posed to the group on this topic:

How does a heavy regulatory change environment shift the nature of what we do? And how will we respond?
The consensus was that regulatory reform helps us by placing the customer (and therefore customer experience) at the centre of what we do. Regulatory change can provide a sense of structure, importance and purpose – keeping customers safe (although tripling the amount of work!).

Given the situation, attendees felt that change was not being embedded quickly enough to get stuff done, so it is important for organisations to find a way to become more Agile, without compromising on quality. Ultimately, this change would need to be driven from the top.

In an ideal world, organisations would get rid of excess governance (as there are a lot of box ticking exercises to satisfy external parties), and think about consistent change and rigor. By the same token, we can’t allow that to slow down the pace of change.

How do we actually bring people on the journey and create a movement within the organisation?
When considering sponsors, the table suggested that there are plenty of people in organisations that don’t understand change, yet very few others that actually sit down with them and go through it – a lot of leaders are thinking so commercially that they forget about the people investment.

The first stage here is understanding what is actually being done, then speaking to sponsors upfront as opposed to refining it throughout the process. Having these conversations well before delivery is the difference between change that lands seamlessly, and change that you need to push. Ultimately, this would expand the capability to affect change across the business. Coming back to regulatory and compliance issues, we spoke about people undertaking localised change that complies – one suggestion was that it should be part of the product team, so that they can take ownership.

It was also noted that you have to win the heart and minds of your people. If people don’t actually have the bandwidth to absorb everything (and it isn’t easy and consumable) then they aren’t going to be engaged. Sometimes, we underestimate the work that goes into change, which means (often as a result of tight deadlines) that delivery is not innovative or done in the right way.

Outcomes over artefacts versus evidence. How?
This can only be truly done through capability planning and really understanding what is happening across the entire group, building leadership at every single layer. We need to rejig resourcing and re-sequence it in a way that builds the foundation to transform. The group indicated that you also need to pivot fast enough to keep up with expectation.

How do we understand the implications of certain things we do?
If people do not understand what you are asking, you are creating a change plan with no future state. There needs to be a vested interest in the embedding phase, as well as support post-implementation. What is the value of change? How are we changing the business? How do we educate them on change and its value? Others suggested the need to introduce new KPIs around adoption and show the value of change management.

Talenza will continue to host a Change, Cheese and Wine event quarterly in order to provide market insights and add value to the Change community. Stay tuned for future blog entries!

Hila Kronental

Change Management Specialist & Recruitment Consultant