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Don’t let the change facing your organization go to waste

To launch 2009, Canadian HR Reporter asked six experts what the year might hold in store. Here’s what ORCHANO’s Edmond Mellina had to say.

The ripple effect of the economic crisis will be felt throughout 2009. It will bring both threats and opportunities to organizations, and its impact will be profound. Being preoccupied with continual, complex and uncertain change is not an option this year. It is the central issue that will keep senior executives awake at night.

In its Global CEO Study 2008, IBM found that “Eight out of ten CEOs anticipate substantial or very substantial change over the next three years, yet they rate their ability to manage change 22 percent lower than their expected need for it – a ‘change gap’ that has nearly tripled since 2006.”

IBM conducted this study before the first waves of the economic tsunami arrived on shore. By and large, the magnitude and depth of this crisis caught business leaders by surprise. Therefore, it is safe to say that CEOs are even more concerned today with closing the change gap than they were at the time of the study. Senior executives, particularly HR, should be equally worried with their organization’s ability to navigate the treacherous sea of change. Hence, narrowing the “change gap” should be seen as a critical priority.

Rahm Emanuel, the incoming White House Chief of Staff, made an interesting comment at the time of his appointment: “You don’t ever want to let a crisis go to waste: it’s an opportunity to do important things”. This should be a motto in organizations these days. The fact the economic crisis is forcing change across industries represents both a challenge and an opportunity.

To tackle the challenge, organizations should help the teams responsible for executing change by equipping them with proven change management tools and methodologies; and by supporting these teams with effective support and coaching throughout the initiatives. In essence, this is about integrating learning and execution to effectively support the implementation of change, mitigate risk, and make the challenge easier to handle for the teams.

By supporting change execution with learning in such a way, organizations can capitalize on the opportunity to narrow the “change gap”. Indeed, teams learn the most about change management when they have to execute complex change in an uncertain environment. Therefore, this year presents organizations with a great opportunity to further develop their ability to manage constant change.

Strategy is a coin with two sides: defence and offence. When organizations make a concerted effort to support their teams through integrated learning as they execute change, they work on both sides of the strategy coin. They play defence by responding more effectively to today’s waves of change. They play offence in two major ways. First, they are able to capture market opportunities by implementing the necessary change faster and better than the competition. Second, they build a strategic weapon for the future by narrowing what IBM calls “the change gap”.

So, don’t let the change facing your organization go to waste. It is an opportunity to do important things.


Headshot Of Edmond Mellina, ORCHANGO's President & Co-Founder

Edmond is ORCHANGO's president & co-founder.

He is internationally respected for his expertise in nimble change leadership and culture change. For the past 30 years, he has been executing strategic transformations, building agile capabilities, and advising clients across sectors in Europe, North America and the Middle East.

He is a former corporate transformation executive in drastically changing industries: CIO at Delta Hotels when Expedia disrupted the hotel business; and VP Corporate Development & General Manager USA for the technology business of Envoy Communication Group when design and marketing agencies started to become digital.

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