As it appeared in the Daily Nation on July 18th, 2017
There are countless changes all around us. These changes transverse many aspects of both the internal and external environment of businesses. Internally, employers have to deal with a new breed of employees, new systems, new policies, expansion into new regions, exit of key persons, mergers and acquisitions and the like. Externally, businesses have to cope with technological advancements; some technologies becoming obsolete as others become crucial. In additional there are changes in regulations as well as changes in customer needs. Customers being more informed than ever before, being less forgiving, choosy and less loyal. There are also major changes in the market place, entry of new players and opening up of the market to global players.
Because of these changes, smart businesses need to deliberately transform themselves in tandem with the times. Most business leaders that I interact with are fully aware when it is time for a minor or major businesses makeover. Most recognize symptoms of business decline such as low sales, customer attrition, demoralized staff while others are always aware of the unexploited opportunities surrounding them. Many that go on the transformation route whether through internal reorganization or restructuring, cultural transformations, strategic alliances, retrenchments, selling off subsidiary business or mergers are able to tap the long-term benefits of their actions. Unfortunately, many business leaders are clouded by the short-term upheavals of transformational efforts and they shy away from taking the needed steps. This makes such business miss the opportunity to scale new heights. Additionally, many small and medium sized business leaders wait until the business is unbearable or it is too late to salvage what they have already built. As a result, thousands of businesses especially SMEs slowly die annually leaving behind only scanty memories of their existence.
I believe businesses should not wait until they are forced by circumstances to transform. Transformation should be intentional; it starts from the inside and must be systematic. Every smart company understands its vital signs, knows that is important to regularly check these signs and take both precautionary and corrective measures. The overall responsibility of transforming organizations to a new disposition rests with the leadership team. Both the board and the senior leadership of any organization have a major leadership responsibility to ensure survival of their organizations. Though transformative ideas may originate from any part of the organization, the CEOs have the monumental role to identify and to lead successful transformation efforts. Commitment and agility across the organization aids these efforts.
Is your organization in need of a makeover? As a business leader, a good starting point is to look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself the hard question about the business you lead and the gravity of its vital signs. Sometimes it is the vision that needs a makeover, or the brand, the culture, the organizational structure, the technology, the policies, the people, the capital structure etc. Once it is clear that the business is in need of a makeover, the leadership must identify the specific steps to take, show the way and inspire the team to follow through. Though many transformation efforts fail, those that succeed have one thing in common; a leadership team with one heart, one mind, and one voice steers these efforts.
Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy