Disruption is reshaping the global business landscape and organizations need to change and implement strategies that will ensure their long-term success in this new era.
Implementing the change needed to make that happen is daunting at the best of times, but today the pace of change in our business environment has accelerated. So not only must we drive change, but do it faster!
I know this, because I have been leading significant change and transformation initiatives for the last 10 years. Today, at Export Development Canada, and in my previous roles at Bombardier as Vice President Strategy & Business Development and subsequently Vice President of Transformation and Shared Services.
Now, at EDC, I’m leading a team that is transforming our business to meet the challenges of a global economy where the status quo is no longer an option. We are on a growth path to reach more companies. Our goal is 30,000 by 2020, up from 7,000 in 2016.
I recently spoke about my experience of growth and change management with an audience of business leaders at the Canada-ASEAN Business Council Forum, Women’s Leadership: Transforming Business in Singapore.
I shared insights that I believe will help business people address strategic issues and inspire them to leverage their strengths to face the challenge of change. Change is difficult, it requires you to make tough decisions and push people out of their comfort zones.
Getting the trust and alignment needed to implement change is the hardest step of all but is not insurmountable. In my experience, corporate transformation leaders should follow a three-pronged approach to change management.
A crucial element in creating successful change is having a vision. You need to stay current and understand change, set a vision to enable the change, and then sell that vision. It’s one thing to have a great idea, but you need to have a plan behind it and the right resources to act on it – and the people who help you deliver on this vision are your most important resource.
Stay true to your vision. If you lose sight of the big picture, you risk losing track in the middle of the project. Your first job is to be an inspirational leader helping provide the vision.
I use my network as a tool to keep current in the world of business. Something I always share with the teams I work with is: the worst thing you can do is to have an inward focus on your own organization. You need to maintain a peripheral vision and talk to others about their challenges and opportunities to understand what is needed in your industry.
For example, in the case of our digital transformation, I first spoke to many banks and partners to find out how their own models were changing and the kind of strategic problems they faced. I also spoke to customers and learned how they wanted their relationships with their bank to change.
The intel I gathered from these discussions is what helped me create a vision for EDC’s long-term success.
This one is personal, but I think it’s critical for successful change management. Apart from establishing a vision for your team, you need to set a mantra that you believe in and will give you to find the motivation to make that tough decision or have that challenging conversation with a peer.
My mantra is Be the change you want to see in the world. I truly believe that to create change, you need to be passionate enough about it to embody that change.
By setting a vision, building a network, and embodying the change you want to see, you not only ensure you are setting strategic direction, but that you are doing it in a way that emboldens the people around you to be passionate about delivering on those objectives. After all, as a leader your role is to help others deal with change while delivering enhanced business performance.
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