Wednesday, July 27, 2011

How to Be a Corporate Revolutionary in 50 Easy Steps

Soon after getting my Chicago MBA I was gung-ho to implement a lot of the cutting edge strategy and finance techniques that I had learned.
The problem here was that there was a lot of organizational resistance. My boss at the time gave me some timeless words of advice:
“Incremental change”
Thus, if you want to sponsor a revolution, you need to do it brick by brick, room by room, block by block. Organizations are not usually ready for big change unless there is some kind of crisis. So if you want to be a change agent, you need to do it slowly and steadily. Too much at once is a bad thing, it scares too many people off.
When we wanted to implement some capital discipline, we did it incrementally.
The first 6 months we came up with a cost of capital, working with business units and strategic planning, exploring and ultimately bridging differences.
The second 6 months we worked on capitalizing the business units in appropriate fashion, again working with different areas of the company to arrive at an acceptable-to-all solution.
Finally, in year two we implemented the Return on Invested Capital concept, which became a factor in the performance metrics and bonus compensation for the various groups.
Each of these stages we focused on the issue at hand, and only at the end did it all work together.
So, figure out what makes sense at the time, what is relevant to the highest current organizational priority, and play the game for the long-term. Make the change in 50 increments. One day you will wake up and find that you have achieved the revolution you were advocating.
I would love to hear your thoughts about the pace of organizational change or your stories on this topic if you have them.
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