Navigating the Journey to Successful Business Model Implementation

All great accomplishments start with great ideas and/or plans, but it takes action to bring them to reality. When we redesign an organization’s business model or its organization design, it’s one thing to blueprint or architect it to create a good approach for achieving marketplace success, yet it is another thing altogether to bring the organization to the point where it actually operates according to that blueprint.

The journey an organization undergoes in business model implementation or in effecting any major change is a significant one. In the organization design field, the process of managing this change is commonly referred to as change management and is heavily reliant on strong project management discipline. However, at AlignOrg Solutions we prefer to refer to it as journey management – the process of going from business model or organization design drawing board to day-to-day operations.

Architecting the Change Journey

Journey management is more than just helping people feel good about inevitable change. It’s about facilitating change to the point where the organization can achieve its strategic objectives, and doing this in a way that helps people modify their behavior and thinking so that they can perform successfully in the new and desired way. It also acknowledges the fact that people are human and they’re going to move at different paces. One person might understand and embrace a particular change very quickly, while another may need more time due to differences in skills, attitudes, opportunities, and experiences.

Whenever an organization is transforming its business model or updating its organization design, it’s important to recognize that it—along with the individuals who make it up—has set out on a journey towards improved performance for the organization based on what its leaders have designed or orchestrated. Architecting a new business model is no different than building a cathedral: creating a great blueprint is a necessary but not sufficient part of the process.  An important part of what has to be considered is how the organization will navigate the journey from the boardroom or the blueprint all the way to performance changes.  We typically look at the organization transformation road map as:

  • Assess and diagnose the organization’s capabilities and gaps
  • Clarify strategy and align the macro organization (including the business model)
  • Align the micro organization choices
  • Ensure realization and sustainability of the new business model and organization design

It is this last phase in the transformation road map where the journey really picks up steam as the effort to go from blueprint to reality is initiated and managed.

Navigating the Four Steps of Journey Management

The journey management process follows four simple steps – Initiation/Set-up, Planning, Realization, and Sustainment.  For each of the four steps, these are three key dimensions that have to transition:

  1. People – Moving people from their current work and responsibilities to their new ones. The ideal outcome is when a team member can say confidently, “I’m in my new role.”
  2. Work – Shifting work processes and activities from how they are performed and executed today to how they need to be in the future. The ideal outcome is when people performing the work can say, “I’m doing my new role.”
  3. Technology – Integrating the tools and technologies needed to enable work processes to happen efficiently and effectively. The ideal outcome is when people can say, “I have the tools to do my new role.”

Many things can be done along the way to facilitate the implementation journey. However, there are three critical things that must be addressed:

  1. Appropriate set-up and resourcing at every phase. We’ve seen situations where organizations get really excited and mobilized around a particular phase of the journey, but fail to continue that same level of focus, enthusiasm, and resourcing to other phases. When this happens, it can cause the journey to stall out, and business model implementation objectives are not always realized.
  2. Management of handoffs between the phases or steps in the journey. Even when an organization is motivated and set up to move through the journey, it doesn’t always effectively address the transitions from one phase to another. For example, I was working with a client a few months ago who had brought together a global leadership team for the function undergoing a transformation journey. This team really rallied around the macro alignment phase of the process. However, when we came out of that phase it took them four months to get set up and ready to move into the micro alignment phase of the work. They kept running into roadblocks: they couldn’t get the project structure set up, they were looking for resources, they felt like they needed to do a lot of communication with stakeholders, they spent a lot of time trying to convince themselves this was right approach, and so on.  All these things took momentum out of the process. Fortunately, they were able to collect themselves and move forward with the journey, but that handoff period from one phase to the next was not easy for them.
  3. Keeping a multi-dimensional Sometimes in an organization the journey takes on a one-dimensional feeling. Perhaps the emphasis is only on project management: making sure certain things are done and boxes are checked by certain dates, and that becomes the definition of success. Or the singular dimension may be all about communications: what did we say, when did we say it, did we sequence it right, does everyone know, etc. Other times, it centers around change management: how do people feel, have we managed the resistance to change, have we done our stakeholder map, and so on. The reality is that all of these dimensions are important—we can’t just do one and think we’ve done most of the journey.

Questions for Successful Business Model Implementation

Asking the following questions can help leaders effectively guide an organization through the journey from a new design all the way to implementation and achievement of positive results:

  • Are we appropriately focusing and mobilizing resources to work on each one of the four steps of the journey management process?
  • Are we thinking through the handoffs between these steps and managing them carefully to ensure a smooth transition between each step, so we don’t lose momentum or move into the next phase ill prepared?
  • Am I ensuring as an alignment leader that we have the right multidimensional approach, particularly as we move down through the journey management steps of project management, communications, and change management?

In journey management, as in all aspects of organization alignment, it’s important to keep the end goal in sight. The purpose is not to complete a stakeholder map, or to put communication plans together or even to create a new work process map. At the end of the day, it’s really all about effecting strategic change, and when leaders keep this goal clearly in mind they will more easily achieve the business outcomes they desire.

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