Case study: making change stick

Our client was a European leader in telecommunications. The organisation had grown substantially in recent years and therefore needed to adapt both its business model and its organizational structure, in order to be able to operate effectively at scale. Whilst the leadership team had made a number of attempts at transformation, they had encountered significant resistance and had been unable to effect the changes they were seeking. It was at this point that they brought us in to work with them.

When we reviewed the existing change management approach the leadership team had deployed, it became clear that their top-down and siloed approach to strategy and change programme development was not leveraging the collective wisdom of the organisation. Prior to our arrival, the leadership team had spent over six months developing its change management programme in isolation; it had then sought to cascade this approach through the organisation over just a four week period. Since the organisation was operating in a fast-changing market, managers and employees further down the business had unique perspectives on the market that senior leaders were not aware of. Whilst the leadership team had undertaken a number of surveys and quantitative research, these differing viewpoints had not been surfaced fully, and were not being taken into account in strategy development and transformation planning. It was this difference in perspective on the business that was leading to the top team experiencing resistance across the organisation.

Over the next six months we helped the leadership team fundamentally transform its approach to leading change. First, we helped the team develop the capacity for connected intelligence and learn the skills needed to lead whole ecosystem transformation. Next, we brought together the 70 team members who had been working on discrete transformation initiatives, to form a unified transformation group. Over a series of workshops we worked with this group to develop their capacity for connected intelligence, enabling them to surface the unaddressed concerns productively and align around a shared vision for the organisation. With this newfound strategic alignment and increased capacity for collaboration, the transformation team was able to roll out the transformation programme as a unified whole. 

As a result, the transformation was delivered ahead of time and ended up outperforming the metrics the leadership team had targeted at the beginning of the programme. At the same time, by developing the capacity for collective intelligence and embedding whole system change processes we helped to develop  the collective agility of the organisation. Finally, the revised approach to transformation ended up also driving up engagement levels across the business, improving productivity and collaboration between functions, groups and levels. The organisation has gone on to become one of the most well-regarded global businesses in the fast-growing technology sector.