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Sustaining Transformation

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Change is the only thing that is constant and the challenge for managers is in their ability to sustain transformation, reduce resistance and achieve desired objectives of change.

Five kinds of transformation by Bjelland and Wood (2008) include:

  • Holism – This is the standard type of transformational change. A crisis unfreezes the organization, then the leaders decide how it should change, and systems to ensure that the new changes are supported.
  • Ambidextrous – Managers recognize new opportunities and create separate business units to pursue them while the existing business continues to exploit old opportunities. Often the new businesses grow larger than the old, transforming the nature of the organization.
  • Acquisition/restructuring – Leaders recognize and seek alterations in the organization through buying new elements from others or separating existing elements. After purchases and other legal restructurings, leaders nurse a new and different kind of organization into existence in the often-chaotic process of integration and re-launch.
  • Good to great – Leaders seeking dramatically better organizations spend years developing managers to work with and focus their efforts towards perfection by doing a core or selected areas of the business really well.
  • Improvisational transformation – In crisis, leaders promote strong strategic intent and encourage improvisation to move the organization toward it. After initial successes, people in the organization seek to learn from them and the largely improvised innovation processes evolve into innovation routines.

Procter & Gamble company has adopted at various times some of the discussed strategies of transformation to sustain change in the organization. Higgings (2002) stated that “Procter & Gamble wants to preserve the best of the old while gradually introducing the new”. This is an ambidextrous strategy. Murphy (1999) in an interview with Durk Jager the CEO of Procter & Gamble asked the question “Then what will Procter & Gamble look like in 10 years? The response was; I hope we move our company portfolio toward higher-value-added products. We’ll do that within existing categories and look for acquisitions”. This is a merger and acquisition strategy.

Procter & Gamble in 2000 after experiencing a drop-in performance and share price, introduced the Connect and Develop strategy. The Connect and Develop strategy was adjudged successful for the following reasons (Anonymous, 2006):

  • It was driven by senior management and encompassed the whole organization;
  • It had everyone in the company rooting for it;
  • Leaders moved swiftly to allay fears that jobs would be at risk. This was achieved by pointing out that external networks would supplement the 7500 Research & Development personnel, who would be afforded the opportunity to further develop their own knowledge and skills needed to drive growth; and
  • Rewards are the same whether solutions are developed in-house or externally.

“The most significant aspect of the Connect & develop model was transforming the internalized culture that prevailed in Procter & Gamble. How was this achieved? By firstly encouraging cross-company collaboration. And when this became a norm, similar sentiments soon extended towards external sources. The Procter & Gamble example illustrates that organizational culture is so vital to innovation. But innovation often demands change, and change is invariably met with resistance that must be overcome if success is to be achieved. Certain analysts believe that an innovation culture gradually emerges as the organization progresses through different levels of achievement. They have identified several key procedures that enhance the process and reduce the level of resistance:

  • Developing a better understanding of customer behavior and needs so that customers can be targeted individually;
  • Encouraging teamwork and the sharing of knowledge and decision making;
  • Broadening organizational horizons and challenging employees to constantly tackle new challenges;
  • Nurturing a creative business environment that is intellectually rewarding;
  • Involving customers in the product development process;
  • Effective management teams that respond swiftly to important issues
  • Aligning strategies and goals more closely; and
  • Striving towards continuous improvement and creating benchmarks that help monitor performance.

Bridges (2003) supports this view and stated that “Mere compliance is nowhere near enough. You need everyone’s commitment because only with commitment will you get people to give their 100%”. The importance of ensuring buy-in by all stakeholders in a change process is important. This is evidenced by Procter & Gamble Company with its Connect & Develop model. People are therefore a key factor in effecting change and sustaining transformation.

References

Anonymous. (2006). Getting by with a little help from their friends – Innovation at Lunar Design and Procter & Gamble. Strategic Direction, 22(9), 14-17.

Bjelland, O., & Wood, R. (2008). Five Ways to Transform A Business. Strategy & Leadership, 36(3), 4-14.

Bridges, W. (2003). Managing Transitions (2nd ed.). Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press. (Original work published 1991)

Higgings, K. (2002). P&G Reinvents Itself. Marketing Management, 11(6), 12-15.

Murphy, B. (1999). Bulky P&G looks for speed. Money, 28(11), 50-52.

 

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