Not being afraid to change – how “elastic” are you?

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2020: the year that shocked and rocked the world. It threw both business and personal challenges at us which we could not have foreseen even with the best business continuity planning. Whilst the recent international and domestic events are perfect for the history books, it has stretched (and will continue to stretch) businesses to their limits.

Businesses have had to act quickly to respond to the events, from adapting their supply chains and working practices through to “full on” changes to business operations. We only have to look at the impact of the pandemic: the UK government’s ventilator challenge (where manufacturers looked at how they could help manufacture ventilators) and a quick pivot to manufacturing critical PPE. A very visible demonstration of what can be speedily achieved if minds are put to it and the situation demands.

But the requirement to change is not new and will not stop as we come out of this particularly unstable period. Recent events have been “super charged” challenges but there will always be disruptors:

  • political changes: the impact of changing global policies, particularly as we (the UK) find our feet in the work outside the EU network
  • changing consumer demand: changes in how we buy and consume goods and services, with not only the accelerated move online but also the growing importance of social responsibility and ethical behaviour on the part of businesses as a driver for purchases, and a growing desire to “pay for use” as opposed to the traditional ownership model;
  • technology: changing how we live, work and consume goods and services on a global scale, but also providing huge leaps forward in terms of the transparency and management of supply chains; and
  • legislative changes: will always impact on business models, but consider as an example the growing environmental agenda, such as the recent announcement in the UK of the ban on sales of new petrol and diesel engines in vehicles from 2030;

The trick is how we adapt in order to not only survive but grow. Change comes with its own problems and absorbs both time and money:

  • setting the change agenda: do you need to stop doing something you have always done? Do you need to change the way in which you are doing something or do you have the chance to go in a new direction to exploit emerging opportunities? What are you doing to “horizon watch”, to get ahead of your competition?
  • stakeholder buy in: who are your stakeholders and do their goals align with your business goals? For example, are your shareholders looking at the longer term or focussing on an exit within a short time frame? This may impact on the willingness to try new things if a quick return cannot be seen on any necessary investment;
  • mindset and the skills agenda: do you have a culture of encouraging your people to explore new options or are you measuring them on metrics which encourage “more of the same” or playing it safe? Do you recognise and accept that some steps will potentially fail irrespective of all your checks and balances, but that is ok and the business learns from it and moves on quickly? Do you have the right people, skills and experience in place to embrace change?
  • funding: how are you going to fund a change? Some changes may be finance and asset “lite” but that may not always be the case.

Over the course of this series, we will bring to you not only our thoughts on the above barriers to change and how you can manage or overcome them, but also the comments and experiences of our contacts and clients. If we have learnt anything over the last year or so is the importance of collaboration and knowledge sharing - so that we are all as “elastic” as possible.

Your views

We would love to hear from you on how you approach change. What stops you? What drives you? What lessons or “top tips” have you learnt from the process which you would like to share with others (or you wish someone had told you about)? And importantly, what are your successes and good news stories? 

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  • Jayne Hussey

    Partner

    Jayne Hussey

    Partner

    • +(44)(0)12456 8400
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