Executive Insights: What Will It Take to Implement Your Design?

Developing a new organization design requires a lot of work, time, and resources, but it can also be exciting to move in a different direction to improve the organization.  In the excitement, we want to implement the new design quickly but often without knowing the effort, steps, or even amount of time it will take. What does it take to implement a new organization design? What can you expect the process to be like? The answer is simple—it depends.

I often think about the journey to implement a new organization design like an American touring Europe. To make the most of the time, most travelers choose materials to help guide and maximize their experience based on their interests, preferences, or budget.  If you are a poor college student, maybe you opt for the online itinerary with the best reviews on Google.  Others may prefer a five-star guidebook or a well-known podcast.  If you are willing to invest a bit more, you might hire a guide to take you through the sites and pre-purchase tickets for key events or day excursions. The bottom line is that each method has its tradeoffs, and the seasoned traveler knows when it is worth it to pay a guide and when you can get as much or more from a simple guidebook.

The organizational transformation journey requires different tools, materials, or resources to maximize your effectiveness and ensure you achieve marketplace success. The following points explore resources that should be leveraged for your implementation success:

  1. Leaders. An implementation needs leaders to endorse, sponsor, and drive change. Leaders help communicate the vision for the change and sustain the organization when the path gets rocky and the group needs to make hard trade-off decisions. They help cascade information throughout the organization and enculturate changes through change management efforts.
  2. Human Resources. Successful implementation requires the right people to be deployed and trained. A good travel guidebook has both tactical and substantive advice. Tactical advice such as use the bus rather than the trolley or exchange money in town rather than the airport is helpful and necessary. Substantive advice such as an explanation of 13th century painting methods will help improve your appreciation of the art in the Louvre in Paris. Similarly, HR handles some tactical matters during an implementation like writing job descriptions and pricing jobs.  Additionally, they help with substantive issues such the best ways to orient new employees, train around new processes and roles, and the best ways to deploy talent. Both the tactical and strategic roles of HR are invaluable.
  3. Communication. Large-scale transformations need well-executed communications to be successful. In addition to all of the tactical messages, the best communications tell a story of the change that helps employees buy-in and facilitates acceptance of substantive behavioral changes. A strong communications plan and messaging functions like a well-written travel book that captures attention and educates readers.
  4. Project Managers. All too often, when traveling we miss events because we managed our time poorly. These miscalculations can even cause us to miss key events or spend more than we planned. Implementations are aided by Project Managers who can help a company stick to the itinerary, track progress, target milestones, and facilitate cross-functional work/learnings.  Don’t over-complicate the project management effort, but having a practical and coordinated approach is invaluable.
  5. Finance. Nothing is worse than miscalculating expenses and having to forfeit things later in the trip or spending more than you wanted to spend. During the transformation journey, Finance can play an important role in building the business case for change and helping the organization see how it is performing against the plan.  As gaps are identified, the design or change team can take corrective actions mid-course to ensure that the original objectives and intent of the change are realized.
  6. IT, Legal, Facilities, etc. Don’t forget the behind-the-scenes functions that can cripple the rollout of a complex change or make it flow smoothly.  When your driver doesn’t show up at the airport and you have to navigate public transport to get to your hotel, the initial excitement of having arrived in Europe dims as you collapse in your hotel room. During implementation, roles like IT, Legal, and Facilities Management literally keep the lights on, provide the tools to help the company move forward, and watch the company’s back as they roll out the new organization design.
  7. Transformation specialist or partner. It can be fun to stumble through an unfamiliar city with a do-it-yourself attitude, but making the best use of your time makes sense when time and resources are limited. A transformation specialist or change partner is like an experienced traveler or guide. They know when you should bring your camera or a bottle of water. They know when to take a taxi even if the bus is cheaper and “supposed” to be faster. During an implementation, these individuals know when to pull the different change levers that will get the results you are seeking. They know the design, the organization, and the journey well enough to help you see around corners and anticipate the unexpected. They can save you the trouble of learning the hard way and ending up in a bad part of town. Transformation specialists and partners may come from within your organization or you may use an outside firm to help marshal your internal efforts within the company to best implement your organization change.

Properly executed, you can carry the excitement of a new organization design through the hard work of implementation. Just like there are many ways to travel Europe, there are also many resources that should be leveraged to ensure a successful implementation. The key is to have an experienced Transformation Specialist or Partner that can guide you through the transformation journey like the best combination of travel materials, on-line reviews, and private tour guides.  They may come from within the organization or outside of it, but in the end they can help you use the right roles at the right times to smoothly transition a company from a design, through implementation, and finally to greater market success.

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