Today’s organizations are forced to continuously reinvent themselves in order to stay relevant in a constantly shifting landscape of competition and market forces. For Indian companies, this challenge is all the more pressing as the economy oscillates between periods of rapid growth and stagnation. Most companies develop strategic and tactical plans in an attempt to navigate through these conditions, but few realize that these plans come with a huge risk of failure unless they invest in creating a culture that supports change as an integral part of business.

How can change-ready culture be created?

Organizations are human systems, so enabling change necessarily has to start with creating and cultivating an environment where people are not only aligned with the success of the organization but that of each other. Many companies fail to recognize this because they only look at what’s being changed – technologies, business processes and organizational hierarchies – and not the people who make the change happen. Any effort that involves transformation can only be as successful as people who implement it make it. So for a company to effectively drive through a new strategy, it becomes important to make sure that there is effective collaboration across functions and commitment to common goals.

Is it hard to change?

Change isn’t easy to deal with for any system, but more so for human systems as individual goals aren’t always in step with team or organizational goals. The magic ingredient in getting employees committed and collaborating towards a common goal is alignment. Good leaders structure individual incentives to align with both personal motivations and team performance, and foster a culture of ownership and co-operation. Transformational leaders go a step further and inspire a shared vision, bringing employees into the process of architecting change and not just implementing it. This creates a culture of collectivity in the organization, the first step in making it change-ready.

What does it take?

After setting the foundation for a change-ready culture, organizations need to invest in building people’s capability in aligning with and managing the new culture. Without this necessary investment in getting teams and individuals culturally competent, even well designed strategies will likely fall short of delivering expected performance.

To become truly change-ready, companies should look to develop team-lead competencies that encourage collaborative behavior, invest in individual assessments and training, and facilitate cross-functional communication of aligned missions. Together, these investments in people reduce the risk of failure more than any other means. In organizations that ignore these investments, teams will falter in executing change even in the presence of sound strategy, and ultimately reflect the failure of leadership.

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