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The lowdown on being chief transformation officer

Divina Paredes | July 3, 2014
Three executives leading some of the biggest business transformation projects in New Zealand talk about preparing systems and teams for a state of constant change.

"The leadership team has to be unified. If not, you have got a pretty hard road ahead," says Sims on the basics of implementing change.

Sharing some lessons learned from the merger, he says it is important to have the leadership team define what success will look like. "Map out what are the fundamental issues in the organisation," he says, and the three to four things that are going to change.

"Get rid of the clutter," he states. If you know what success looks like, this will help drill down into the "people dynamic" of the change.

From a technical point of view, it is important to understand the scope you are trying to deal with. Then, he says, make sure the team you bring in together is also unified.

It is also important to focus on the people who are going to make the change happen. In ANZ's case, this means involving the 5000 sales staff who will interact with the customers.

Avenell says NZ Post "put a lot more" on how they work with people who were exiting the business.

She says this focus made a "massive difference" to the process. "That has been an invaluable tool for our leaders, so they feel equipped supported and empowered to help navigate change and they see how we treat the people leaving the organisation."

Sims agrees, saying people "don't want spin". They want the executive team to say here are the issues. "People respond better to you if you go straight talking."

He says with the brand change, the bank had to be careful as 3000 people were aware of this even before it was announced to the public.

Sims says these people were brought into a room and told they have a "mission" and what are the issues involved, and that at the end it will be a much stronger organisation.

You will have better buy-in and support for the change process if you are straightforward in what is going on "within commercial reason", says Sims.

At the same time, Sims says it is important to bring the organisation's partners and suppliers along, as they are also going through a life changing event. The conversion at ANZ, for instance, moved 2.6 million customer records, 500,000 security records, 80 million transactions and over $42 billion of funds to the new system. "They understood the seriousness of it."


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