At Emergn, we work with global companies who are wrestling with all sorts of change. Changes in regulation, technology, society, customer expectations and market competition are driving enterprises to figure out how to re-invent their business models, improve their capability to deliver and alter their cultures to better adapt and respond to the amount of change in the marketplace. For many of our clients part of the journey of change includes the introduction of agile methods and thinking as well as how technology fits into the wider context of the organisation. During our work we consult, coach, provide delivery capability and generally enable our clients to be successful. However, the most important strand of our service that underpins our own capability and the success within our projects is education. Here are 5 reasons why you should consider it a core element of your own transformation strategy.
1. Companies that can learn fast will beat the competition.
Systemic learning is really hard and the companies that manage to try something, learn and improve quickly are generating success in modern markets. However, systemic learning requires individuals who are used to independent learning and discovery. Many enterprises have people who have had no formal education for many years. In some cases, decades. These people can often be in positions of influence and seniority. Learning takes practice. As individuals are encouraged to learn, try and improve, the whole organisation will become more confident and capable in learning.
2. Real change comes from within.
Consultants, coaches and partners can bring in many great ideas, help accelerate implementation plans, build capability and augment an enterprises workforce. But change cannot be implemented by external influences alone. Ideas that are generated outside can often be rejected by internal staff for many reasons including lack of understanding, the ‘not invented here’ syndrome or a reluctance to change. When individuals start learning new things and looking for places to apply their new ideas then change will be more easily sustained. Going further, if many people in the same organisation undergo similar education a network effect can be created that spans organisational boundaries. Change and energy are two-sides of an equation, it is important to create an energy that can drive and sustain the scale of change required.
3. Your context is everything.
In agile, lean and other philosophies that impact culture, practices and techniques are often used to explain principles and values. But principles and values are best made real when context is well understood and acknowledged. Whilst external partners have deep knowledge of practices and implementing the ideas in different contexts, your own people have understanding of things that might work, and what things might not. Sometimes it is better to challenge even these deep-set beliefs, but without educated people within an organisation who can discuss and debate the right points of change things can become disjointed and ineffective.
4. Investment in your people is paramount.
When your staff get an opportunity to improve and develop they are often more willing, motivated and able to drive the change and work at the speed required. There is always the added bonus of loyalty to the company who are willing to invest in them as individuals too.
5. Curiosity and critical thinking create innovation.
When people become curious, they start asking better questions, and pushing the people around them to do more. There will already be many people outside your company who are critical of you (your customers, competitors, analysts etc) who can do nothing about your improvement (although they can all exacerbate the challenges!). Having staff with a skill in critically assessing the organisation and with the authority to create improvement creates a powerful combination that can really develop real innovation for the benefit of your customers.
Education is one string in the bow of transformation. Couple this with the right external change support, people who can already work in a way that embodies the change you aspire to and leadership with clear outcomes and objectives and you have a recipe for success.