20 Years Later….It’s STILL All About Change Management

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20 years ago . . . . . . . YES in 1996, we set out on a journey to do this thing called Strategic Sourcing.  It was at a time when my organization was going through a merger of equals (two very large Midwest Banks) and the opportunities were tremendous.  We hired one of the premiere consulting firms in this space and set sail on this wild ride.  I went into this believing that the key to success was being a really good negotiator because after all wasn’t this all about saving money, creating leverage in the supply market, reducing the number of suppliers and working hard to get suppliers to lower their prices? Sure it was BUT IT WASN’T.  It didn’t take long to realize that working with suppliers was the EASY part.  In fact, it was getting my own organization, including Purchasing, to fundamentally change the way we thought about buying goods and services that was the hard part.  Changing processes – easy!  Introducing new tools – easy! Getting internal people to work together differently to create the leverage that was needed to be successful -HARD!  This is where Change Management comes in.  I became an instant Change Agent and Change expert BY NECESSITY!  Most of my days, as leader of the group were spent working with my internal organization (the whole company) to make the change happen.  I also enlisted ALL of my people to also be Change Agents because change cannot be driven just from the top.  It was painful and exhilarating at the same time and WE were successful!

Fast forward two years, on June 4, 1998 (have at it fact checkers) my partner did a presentation at the SIG conference entitled “Strategic Sourcing – It’s Mostly Change Management” and we were almost laughed out of the room.  We did create a lot of buzz though and started a conversation that is still alive today.  I read a blog yesterday, “Employee Engagement Isn’t a Sprint; It’s a Marathon” which outlines a recent study that showed that “most organizations struggle with change with an astounding 91% saying change initiatives have failed in their organizations in the past.  Only 3% of respondents reported that their change initiatives meet their intended goals 100 percent of the time”.  As we have found with many of our clients and prospects, change management is still discounted as NOT being as important as implementing that new technology or process.  But what they fail to realize is that unless adopted, by people who are willing to accept the change, that new anything will incur only cost and will not have the expected return.

There are many reasons why change initiatives fail – here are but a few:

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We can summarize these into four major categories:

  • Poor communication
  • Lack of time and Budget
  • Poor Leadership
  • One-time training

As Sourcing / Supply Chain / Finance / IT / HR, etc. professionals we are asked to lead change every day. Whether we are dealing with the rapid change in technology, process, organization structures, etc. we need to be able to engage our employees and stakeholders in a positive way to ensure that the change happens and is sustained.   If we expect our people to be competent at leading change we need to educate them and provide them with a set of tools to be successful.  Change management skills need to be a pre-requisite for ourselves and our people and become second nature as we are executing our functional responsibility.

It’s 2016 and Change Management is even more critical today than it was twenty years ago.  If you sat down and thought about most of the issues you are facing in your functional discipline, you would realize that most of the issues are internal and can be remedied with change leadership.  If you make one investment in your staff in the next year, consider providing change management training and call us at The Mpower Group because we are very good at it and happy to help!

Let us know what you think and join in the conversation . . . . . . . .

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Anne Kohler
Anne has been leading consulting and financial management organizations for over 25 years. She has extensive expertise in Strategic Sourcing, change management, contracting & contract management (both the buy side and sell side) organizational design and supply chain management. Anne has a passion for collaborating and educating her clients while helping them to uncover hidden value in their organizations. In addition, Anne has been named by Supply & Demand Chain Executive as a “Top 100 Provider Pro to Know” every year since 2007 and a 2013 Top Female Supply Chain executive.
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