More than 2500 years ago, Greek philosopher Heraclitus declared the only constant in life is change. In the early days of 2018, his words have never been more accurate. But why is it that some organisations thrive in this environment while others wither? What’s the secret to success in a constantly evolving world?
On the technology front, these changes are appearing in many areas. Research firm Gartner says artificial intelligence will be the most disruptive class of technologies for the next 10 years.
McKinsey and Co says every occupation has at least partial automation potential and estimates about 50 per cent of all staff activities could potentially be automated.
When you add forces such as globalisation and shifting workforce demographics, the picture becomes even more complex.
A roadmap for 2018
Despite all these factors forcing change on us, some organisations seem to do a really good job of being agile and innovative, despite the challenges that change presents, while others struggle. Clearly, old ways of operating won’t cut it in this new fast-paced, rapidly changing business environment, so what’s the best approach to take in 2018 to maximise your chances of success?
Unfortunately, anyone looking for a single answer is going to be disappointed because it doesn’t exist. It’s more likely a matter of finding the mix of technologies and the management approach that best suits your business.
It’s also important to avoid constantly jumping from one technology trend to another in some sort of scattergun approach. It’s easy to get distracted by the ‘shiny new object’ that appears to hold all the answers, but a more pragmatic approach is what will actually deliver long-term results.
Robotic process automation is one example. This strategy is not about having robots at desks – replacing all human involvement – but instead using emerging technologies to boost efficiency and remove manual processes, where it makes sense to do so. Over time, organisations need to figure out where it makes sense … and where it doesn’t.
In 2018, the organisations that succeed in amongst all this change will be those that focus on three key things:
- Maintain focus on execution: The most successful organisations are those with in-baked disciplines for and focus on execution. They understand that it’s not enough to have a great strategy – you also have to be able to execute on your current strategy fully and effectively. According to the Harvard Business Review, the best performing organisations are those that consistently achieve operational excellence. A brilliant strategy means nothing without it.
- Respond to change faster: No one knows what the future holds, so it’s important to be agile and prepared to change course as new challenges and opportunities arise. Trends will come and go, so it’s a matter of learning to see the opportunities and finding the best way to use them to deliver value to customers. Focus on building the capacity for change within your organisation and responding to changes quickly and pragmatically which can result in significant dividends.
- Constantly challenge the way things are done: To achieve the best results in an era of constant change, nothing can be sacred. Existing processes and approaches must be constantly examined to ensure they deliver as much value as is possible. Those that are not, need to be replaced. Having a set-and-forget attitude is simply not going to work. Across your organisation, everyone should be encouraged to flag opportunities for improvement which can, in turn, become a part of ongoing operations. In this way, incremental changes can result in significant long-term results.
The role of effective business process management (BPM)
As we begin 2018, BPM fundamentals have never been more important to enable the organisation’s capacity for change, yet a lot of organisations are still getting this wrong. Many are failing to implement process management practices which, in turn, contribute to missed opportunities.
It’s impossible to know what the future will bring, but one certainty is that the pace of change won’t slow down. Make 2018 more about the opportunity than the risk. By building the change competency of your organisation, you’ll be best placed to take advantage of whatever is just over the horizon.
About the author
Ivan Seselj is CEO of Promapp Solutions, an industry leading provider of cloud-based process management (BPM) software for creating and managing business processes online. Ivan previously wrote A solid case for process improvement: more than a vague promise of happier customers, Securing staff buy-in for process improvements, The leadership traits that inhibit innovation, Nine steps to build an agile business in 2017 and See the world through your customer’s eyes for Dynamic Business.