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Change Management

Why if the Tories, Barclays Bank and others that opposed change are invited to Mandela’s Funeral they should go.

The past few days have been filled with sorrow, the loss of one of the worlds most inspirational and transformational leaders.  In some respect he even felt like a Papa figure (word for granddad in the Caribbean), he is an elder that has done so much for me, for us, for the world.  I remember being in school and singing “free Nelson Mandela.”  I remember things that changed because of him.  I remember visiting Cape Town and district 6 where people “Blacks” and “St Helenians” were instantly removed.  I fall into both of these groups.  So the thought of many of the hypocrites now stepping forward was sickening, when in fact they were on the wrong side of change. Then I remembered when I visited Robben island and stood in his cell, and let’s not forget the many others that were wrongly imprisoned there.  I stood there with a sense of perspective.  Nelson Mandela had an insightful perspective on change, perhaps because of the long time he had to endure the same view and people. He knew how to change people who were his opponents, to bring people behind him who would have originally strung him up.  “We are one people with one destiny” he eliminated division, just look at what he did by using Rugby to bring together the people in the 1995 world cup.

On Friday on my sister shared the Guardian’s article on the hypocritical standpoint of the Tories.  Today Sunday I received a petition from (below) to petition against David Cameron’s attendance of the funeral.  Whilst I agree, it is right that we do not let people re-write history.  What would alienation achieve?  He said "Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies." We should learn from him.  What would Nelson Mandela do?  He would look and see how we can engage and involve these people (hypocrites included) as they stand up to be on the right side of history now.  We need to think how to challenge those that were hypocrites, to carry Nelson Mandela’s legacy on with today’s challenges.  There is still a lot more for humanity to do.  The impact of change will be more powerful with them; then against them.

The petition should read David Cameron:

  • How to address racism, which still exists, people are still judged for the colour of their skin.
  • How to reduce the gap between rich and poor, which in today’s economy has been polarised by policies that give the elite access to education.
  • How to shape social policies that eliminate classism.  There are people relying on food banks and children in a western economy living below the poverty line.  1 in 6 children in the UK live below the poverty line according to the DWP 2013.  Classism is a worsening division.

David Cameron embrace the inspiration that is Mandela:

  • "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."
  • "I hate race discrimination most intensely and in all its manifestations. I have fought it all during my life; I fight it now, and will do so until the end of my days." calling for a petition to ban David Cameron from the funeral need to swallow any grief, anger, righteousness  and hurt.

Ultimately what would Mandela do "Lead from the back — and let others believe they are in front."

Why an OD professional should ensure a communications and engagement plan is delivered.

Why an OD professional should ensure a communications and engagement plan is delivered.


There are many programmes that have the most fantastic design but end up being a piece of paper or a document in a laptop.  McKinsey and Company in conjunction with Oxford University ran a study in 2012 5,400 large scale IT projects with a budget $15 M plus.  17% were disastrous that they threatened the companies’ existence.  45% were over budget, 7% over time and 56% delivered less value then predicted.  This raises many questions on ROI, but that will be for another blog.  When I assess what was missing there were two key things:

  • Clear objectives.  That includes going beyond the politics and being clear and honest about what the objectives are, and synergyies with other departments.  Too often projects can start as a HR or IT initiative not engaging the managers.  This topic I have discussed in a previous blog.
  • People and change.  IBM researched a sample of 1,500 change management executives.  They identified the biggest barriers to success as people factors: Changing mindsets and attitudes – 58%. Corporate culture – 49%.  Lack of senior management support – 32%.

The communication and engagement plan with excellent execution should be a major tool in people and change, to get buy in and deploy the programme.  Right from the analysis phase of the project the communications and engagement should be designed. In my last role for some reason the communications department said I was the only person to do this, and I had to question why?

To share the main structure I find useful, and just KISS Keeps It Simple Stupid:

  • When – the date set the dates in lien with the project plan.  There may be different dates for different audiences in order to start to get input, gain influence and in buy in.
  • Who – The who is derived form your stakeholder map
  • What – The what should just be a summary of the bullet point or points that you want to communicate
  • Why – The reason for this message this gives you the objective that you want to achieve
  • Message – This provides more information to the what on what the actual message is
  • Medium  - are the channel/s that you wish to use to communicate.  The appropriateness of channels needs to be taken into account, as well as sometimes a mix of messages.  Not forgetting newer possible forms of communication like social media where appropriate.  Or less formal dialogue: corridor conversations and workshops are powerful mediums for one to one or one to many communcations.
  • Owner - The person responsible to deliver the message.

That’s it.  It is so basic but for some reason often forgotten.  The communications and engagement plan works in co-ordination with other tools like a project charter and stakeholder map.   It is not a single entity.  Essentially an idea, concept or strategy needs to be taken from paper on a desk or a document in a laptop to a living-breathing program.

So how do we do that for the significant number of projects that fail?  KPMG reports out of the companies they interviewed a staggering 70% had a project failure in the last year! Let’s understand why and learn from mistakes.

  • Have people on your team that challenge to make sure the objectives are clear, that all synergies are understood.
  • Have people on your team that motivate, inspire and engage with the stakeholders throughout the organisation.
  • Have people on your team that can check the detail, ensure things are completed, delivered and follow up on ROI.
  • Have someone on your team that has the ability to really make it live and breath, and a communications and engagement plan is just one tool.

Any questions please connect

Culture, Sales and the Bottom Line

Culture, Sales and the Bottom Line


Organisation Development professionals know that culture can make or break the success of an acquisition or merger.  Sometimes this can be difficult to quantify.  I have been studying this a lot recently in relation to my doctorate.  So I wanted to share some tangible research that stimulates the debate. Research on the entry of companies into new markets, has shown the economic consequences of cultural distance. Li and Guisinger identified that foreign companies that entered the US from a culturally distant country were more likely to fail (Li 1991).  Analysis found that the survival rates of foreign firms decreased with cultural distance.  The relationship between success and cultural distance was more prevalent in joint ventures, and acquisitions than green field start-ups (Barkema 1997). If the absence of a dominant HQ culture or leadership in a start up aids the success of a company, this could provide better insight into the success factors in entry into new markets.  In China the success of foreign joint ventures have been linked to the cultural distance of the different parties (Luo 1999).  Nakano (1997) identified that US and Japanese managers differed significantly in their ethics orientations (Nakano 1997).  Research in Italy measured the sales growth in acquired firms for a period of two years, and there was a positive relationship to the cultural distance of the partners (Morosini 1998).

This research is an asset because it provides a direct link between culture and sales; the bottom line.  This type of research is needed by managers in order to win a business case to address the people and cultural issues.  Schlegelmilch and Robertson went a little deeper and showed that it was both the country and industry that affected the ethical perceptions of senior executives in the US and European countries (Schlegelilch 1995). Hofstede’s empirical research in the UK and 46 countries identified leadership preferences of “Tells,” “Sells,” “Consults” and “Joins.”  This accumulated research links culture to the success or failure of international businesses.  It also identifies that different leadership styles are used in different countries.

A weakness of the research is a lack of explanation as to why green field start-ups are more successful?  The question leaves a research void that could be valuable to understand a possible solution.  Other limitations of the research are that it does not help companies to understand the idiosyncrasies of what is not effective. What a Leader should avoid to be successful in each culture is not clear.

These very questions are what have stimulated me as a professional to contribute knowledge back to my profession, and answer some of these questions.  For now I wish to arm professionals with some harder evidence that our colleagues in other departments like finance readily have.

We can relate culture change and leadership back to the bottom line.


Changes from Within in Difficult Times

Changes from Within in Difficult Times


The types of businesses we are, the way we do business, the way people work and the technologies available to use are continually changing. colorful-chameleon

We have moved from managing traditional co-located teams of people, to talents working virtually all over the world.  Businesses can create and innovate from multiple locations, and start-ups use facilities like, virtual working software, Voice over IP, Teleconferencing…. to leverage economies of geography.  Their agility makes it possible for small David like Business Models, to battle slower moving Goliath’s.

The Goliath’s are trying to gain more flexibility and change organisations to be able to compete.  Organisations have more diverse stakeholder groups, more exposure with social media, more global coverage tapping into emerging economies.  Organisations are trying to make there business fit not only today’s needs, but tomorrow.

So how do we even start to look at doing that?:

  1. Look at agile competitors and start-ups, as well as larger ones.  However, it is not possible to copy and paste.  It has to be the right custom fit for the organisation.  It may not be right for you but at least be aware of smaller player, which can now scale quickly in todays world.
  2. Engage with your employees and managers with what working environment would benefit the organisation now and in the future.  This could be a working group.
  3. Scan for technologies, and practices available.
  4. Understand what would work in your organisation.  This will probably not be a one - time thing.  For some, it may be a cultural change that happens in phases.  So understand the end game.
  5. Define the TO BE and what steps need to be taken.  These steps are not just technology, physical placement of offices, people’s mind-sets and culture.
  6. Design and build that change with great communication, and culture change plans.
  7. Keep revisiting what you need to be as an organisation.  Challenging yourself on: what could destroy us now?  What are the agile competitions doing, or able to do that we can’t.
  8. Try to also stimulate innovation from within.

Some of these practices may make you more agile yourself, being able to be more effective.

Be a business chameleon.


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