Transformation Pathway 3: Organisational Reset

by David Manifold

We recently started writing a series of articles on accelerating marketing & sales transformation, based around our highly successful insights session that took place earlier this year. So far, we've explored the key obstacles to transforming in step with your customer and identified 4 common pathways for accelerating change, depending on the current state of the business. 

In today's post, I'd like to talk about Transformation Pathway 3 - The Organisational Reset, which is relevant to organisations where the operational maturity is high but the business imperative has dropped for some reason. The challenge faced here is how to win back frontline trust and belief.

Operational Maturity/Business Imperative FrameworkOperational Maturity/Business Imperative Matrix

In this scenario, businesses are often heavily invested, having bought the ‘Ferrari’ after spending much upfront effort on detailed design. Upon project delivery, as they plan on sending the ‘new car’ out on the track, they find that the ‘drivers’ have received very little training on how to leverage the unique and competitive features now ready to be exploited.  The result is a strong decline in people engagement, and the challenge is how best to gain back trust and belief, and win back organisational opportunity. I’d like to explore this scenario further with the help of an industry case study of an organisation struggling to win back people engagement after an unsuccessful implementation.

Case Study

An international health science business with a global project team and centralised systems and processes were busy with a decentralised ‘last mile’ implementation for a new CRM platform. The goal was ultimately to build the foundation for a new multi-channel environment. The affiliate level/country level project implementation focus was centred around systems and processes, primarily on how to get the infrastructure aligned and embedded. However, due to a complete absence of the people engagement, or what we often refer to as building ‘the belief’, in this transformation, the implementation was unsuccessful.

The miss resulted in the frontline sales force abdication of the change and rejection of the new technology and ways of working.  The frontline did not understand why they had to adopt these new ways of working nor did they know how to leverage this new technology and ultimately increase their effectiveness. This resulted in frustration and disbelief in the value of the new CRM solution. The new technology bought in to be leveraged by the frontline, which was supposed to be more effective and drive increased customer advocacy, was ultimately perceived to be competing with what they were trying to do with their customers.   Before long, there was a rapid decompression of this new technology initiative coupled with anarchy and resistance, and a strong preference to keep the ‘old ways of working’. The result in this case study was the beginning of regression to their old ways of working, while the lessons learned were to either lose the opportunity and flush the investment, or to stop, listen, recover and reset.

In our opinion, there are three simple yet complex-to-influence focus areas that can help kick start momentum in a situation like this:

  1. Change Management – Responsive frontline problem solving

Seek to understand and connect with the frontline team, and find out what they will gain from the change.  Systematically focus on being an enabler for this group rather than a perceived disabler, to gain engagement and build advocacy.  Move from resistance management to frontline problem solving by focussing on adoption and addressing the pain points.  Create and identify champions, a coalition of the willing, by collecting bottom up feedback and putting focal points on what is working well and how it’s being leveraged.


 2. Organisational Alignment – Enterprise leverage

We are all very aware that you can never underestimate the challenge of getting x-functional alignment and support to mobilise a project.  The key learning is to shift from fighting the tide, to swimming along with it – figure out how to get the enterprise working for you.  Create shared accountability and ownership of success by establishing a common rhythm, KPIs, plus role and goal clarity for all.  Congruency is critical here across the organisation ensuring the business is in lock step and focussing on the same outcomes universally.

 3. New Capabilities – New mindset and behaviours

Create an entrepreneurial environment focussed on agile learning and continuous improvement, driven from the strategic framework.  Establish accountability for all individuals to drive their own knowledge acquisition and build a capability development roadmap from a common skeleton.  Connect with all staff intrinsically by focussing on the ‘head, heart & guts’ to access and drive discretionary effort. Creating momentum and belief in the cause is critical to moving the needle for organisational capability.

Blackdot’s unconventional wisdom

The common practice here is around change, capability and communications. But at Blackdot, we aim to do this faster, better and in an easier way. We don’t want to fight the tide but rather swim with it. The solution to achieving a faster, better and easier way for all is to unlock and create a better employee experience in order to demonstrate a better customer experience. By bringing in new DNA, drawing a line in the sand and telling everyone what ‘new’ is going to feel like – your people will genuinely experience and feel the ‘new’ and pass that on to your customers, who will ultimately also experience and believe in the change.

Our next post will focus on the last of the 4 common pathways - Transformation Pathway 4: Data-Driven Double-Down, which is about harnessing existing energy and optimising customer and business outcomes.