Organisational Change Management Volume 1

Framework 43 Transforming Large Global Giants

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There is a common perception that large global organisations are very hard, if not impossible, to transform. Yet there is evidence that they can move rapidly and creatively while taking on social and environmental challenges on a scale only the large organisations can. Furthermore, they are bringing small and medium-sized businesses along with them.

The key to their success is the guidance systems of these large global organisations, and this aspect involves drawing heavily on a shared understanding of what is required and the techniques available. This includes common platforms, standardized processes, widely shared values, etc that have mutually reinforcing impacts

Key to success is balancing seemingly opposing goals

Globalize and localize, deriving benefits from the intersections (knowledge is transferred to and from emerging and developed countries through a web of global connections; knowledge moves horizontally to other product lines and vertically to other markets)

Standardize and innovate, endeavouring to prevent consistency from becoming stifling conformity ('standardized' does not mean that no improvements can occur; thanks to web-based information sharing, new approaches can be disseminated very quickly. On the other hand, standardized management practices and technologies in organisations are the equivalent of infrastructure in cities and allow focus on broader concerns and reduce energy spent on basic activities)

Foster a common universal culture but also respect individual differences, seeking inclusion and diversity (have shared values integrated throughout the organisations; the key values are mutual respect, diversity, collaboration and inclusion; these are pivotal as they provide

- a basis for consistent decision-making

- a strong sense of business purpose

- corporate identity

- common standards for behaviour irrespective of the geographical location, and differences in background and cultural traditions of the staff; serve as motivational tools, ie

"...offer people a basis for engagement with their work, a sense of membership, and makeup of stability in the midst of constant change..."

Rosabeth Moss Kanter, 2008)

Maintain control by letting go of it, trusting people educated in the shared values to do the right thing (standards can be open-ended and inspirational, not constraining or restrictive; loosening of organisational structures to allow fluid boundaries and flexible deployment of people. Furthermore,

"...managers and professionals appear less concerned with where they work and to whom they report and with what projects they are able to join or initiate. Rather than focusing on the function or discipline that was their organisational base, they focus on the problem to be solved - and figuring out how to assemble the expertise relevant to it......Many of these companies have a tradition of making mobility part of career development, which ensures an international mixing as well as the carrying of expertise from one place to another..."

Rosabeth Moss Kanter, 2008)

Have a strong identity but also a strong reliance on partners, with whom there is collaboration but not control (as part of competitive success, work with external partners so that there is coherence across the network and a better understanding of the whole system; this involves collaborative information sharing with partners.

NB Many staff in successful global organisations do not have a regular office to which they report - they work from whatever workstations are the most suitable, including customer sites, homes, etc. Furthermore,

"...working with extended networks of partners across inter- and extra-company boundaries requires large numbers of people to serve as connectors among activities - not as bosses but as brokers, network builders, and facilitators..."

Rosabeth Moss Kanter, 2008)

Produce both business and societal value (put social and environmental responsibility at the core of search for differentiation; impact of innovations, standards, etc within the organisations have beneficial applications to the rest of society)

Combine both soft areas (people, culture and community responsibility) and the hard areas (technology and product innovation)

Do not abandon values in a crisis; crises serve to strengthen commitment to values

In summary

" is not ironfisted hierarchy or some clever engineering of structure that provides coherence to these organisations; it is the effect of commonly held values translating into operations clear standards and processes - values and standards that are embraced by individuals because they allow autonomy, flexibility, and self expression. Not only does this approach enable a company to unify geographically and culturally diverse people and guide their daily decision-making. It also inspires much high-level creativity, leading to more breakthrough the most influential corporations today, a foundation of values and standards provides a well understood, widely communicated guidance system that ensures effective operations while enabling people to make decisions appropriate to the local situations. This, rather than any traditional control system, is what operate as one enterprise in projects that span many countries and to share a culture that makes people inside and external partners connected as an extended family.....of doing business that is more localized and humane...."

Rosabeth Moss Kanter, 2008

This helps the organisations avoid the traps of bureaucracy that have caused problems in the past. Furthermore, management by values and aspirations, with open boundaries, encourages engagement.

(source: Rosabeth Moss Kanter, 2008)


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