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May 2009

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Welcome to this month’s bumper edition of the Business Performance Newsletter. We start off with a follow up from last month’s report on on-line social networking and your business. Our senior consultant, Jennifer McCoy, points us to the prime networking web sites for business owners. Secondly, our Managing Director, Leslie Allan, reviews a recent high profile report on how well organizations are managing change and introduces you to some invaluable resources. Enjoy!

Top 10 Business Networking Web Sites

If you are just starting out in business or you want to forge new business relationships, here are the top ten social networking sites for business owners. You can find a more detailed description of each web site at http://mashable.com/2009/03/12/entrepreneur-networks/. Each web site has its particular strengths and we summarize them below.

1. Entrepreneur Connect - http://econnect.entrepreneur.com/

Designed for entrepreneurs and small business owners who want to share ideas. The site hosts a number of professional groups and you can start your own blog.

2. PartnerUp - http://www.partnerup.com/default.aspx

Best suited to business partners, co-founders, executives and board members looking for resources and business opportunities.

3. StartupNation - http://www.startupnation.com/

Offers plenty of resources for business startups, such as articles, forums, blogs, on-demand seminars, and podcasts.

4. LinkedIn - http://linkedin.com/

Hosts a large community of business people and many groups. You can search for like-minded business people and partake in a number of activities to promote your business.

5. Biznik - http://biznik.com/

Brands itself as different from other social networks. The network is best suited to freelancers, CEOs, and self-employed professionals.

6. Perfect Business - http://www.perfectbusiness.com/

Suited to finding potential business partners, clients and advisers. The site sports a number of resources, including a video center, an investor center and a business plan builder.

7. Go BIG Network - http://www.gobignetwork.com/

Suited to job seekers, entrepreneurs and business people looking for funding sources and service providers. You can post a request for help, which then gets submitted to the most appropriate member.

8. Cofoundr- http://cofoundr.com/

Caters to people wanting to start a new web business. Member profiles are not made public.

9. The Funded - http://thefunded.com/

Geared for entrepreneurs wanting to share research, rate and review funding sources and investor information.

10. Young Entrepreneur - http://www.youngentrepreneur.com/

Designed to attract young entrepreneurs and features a discussion forum, active blog and business videos.

As you examine each portal, don’t think about limiting yourself to just one community. However, you get the best out of any community you join by contributing and remaining active. Happy hunting!

Making Change Management Work

Managing change in today’s organizations is not getting any easier. However, doing it well is the new imperative. How are organizations faring with moving their people and systems in new directions? IBM Global Business Services researched change management practices across the globe. Their extensive Making Change Work Study quizzed over 1,500 project leaders, sponsors, project managers and change managers from many of the world’s leading organizations, ranging from small to very large in size.

The IBM survey was fairly representative, covering a wide range of small to large projects designed to implement strategic, organizational, operational and technology based change. Project objectives included improving customer satisfaction, sales and revenue growth, reducing costs, innovating processes, implementing technology and entering new markets.

The stand out feature of the IBM study is its solid reinforcement of the business imperative: for companies to survive and strive in today’s competitive environment, they will need to change quickly and successfully. Managing change is now a core competence that can no longer be considered a discretionary “nice to have”. Yet most organizations are falling short in the race to adapt and innovate. The accelerating pace of change coupled with increasing uncertainty and complexity has pushed up this skills gap to what is now a major area of concern.

The IBM study reveals that the percentage of CEOs expecting substantial change has risen from 65% in 2006 to 83% in 2008. However, CEOs reporting that they had managed change well in past projects climbed from 57% in 2006 to only 61% in 2008. This constitutes a more than tripling in the size of the gap between actual change capability and needed capability. The costs to organizations are real and sizeable. Failed change initiatives bring in their wake budget overruns, disgruntled customers and demoralized employees.

How successful are organizations at implementing change? The IBM study reports most CEOs considering themselves and their organizations largely ineffective at bringing about change. The change practitioners themselves reported the following change program success rates:

41%    fully met objectives
44%    missed at least one objective
15%    missed all objectives or aborted
In all, 59% of change initiatives failed to meet their objectives. This is quite a sobering result as we set about entering the second decade of the 21st century. Another sobering thought is the stark contrast between those organizations getting change management right and those that are struggling. The top 20% of organizations, the study reveals, are successful 80% of the time. Conversely, the bottom 20% of organizations only manage to achieve their change objectives 8% of the time. The top 20% of companies are ten times more likely to lead a successful change initiative than the bottom 20%.

Clearly, underachieving organizations can draw important lessons from the top achievers. What are the barriers to successful change and what are the key success factors that poor performers can leverage to their competitive advantage? The IBM study provides valuable insights into what poorly performing organizations can do to emulate the success of their better performing competitors. What are these lessons?

Through their research study, IBM revealed these key barriers to successful change:
58%    Changing mindsets and attitudes
49%    Corporate culture
35%    Complexity is underestimated
33%    Shortage of resources
32%    Lack of commitment of higher management
20%    Lack of change know how
18%    Lack of transparency from missing or wrong information
16%    Lack of motivation of involved employees
15%    Change of process
12%    Change of IT systems
  8%    Technology barriers
Note how people factors account for the top three challenges and for four out of the top five. Getting the “soft” stuff right turns out harder to do than getting the traditional “hard” stuff, such as resources and technology, correctly aligned. What was once considered the unimportant “soft and fuzzy” aspect of organizational life turns out to be what makes or breaks change projects. This picture of what enables successful change is highlighted again in IBM’s uncovering of the key success factors. These key ingredients for successful change, as revealed by the top performers in the study, are:
92%    Top management sponsorship
72%    Employee involvement
70%    Honest and timely communication
65%    Corporate culture that motivates and promotes change
55%    Change agents (pioneers of change)
48%    Change supported by culture
38%    Efficient training programs
36%    Adjustment of performance measures
33%    Efficient organization structure
19%    Monetary and non-monetary incentives
Once again, tuning in to the “soft” factors makes up for the top six key aspects for successful change. How does your organization measure up on its change management scorecard?

Pull out a blank sheet of paper and place a line down the middle of the sheet, from top to bottom. On the left hand side of the sheet, enter all of the above key barriers. At the top of the sheet, label this list with “Forces Against Change”. On the right hand side of the sheet, list the above key success factors and label the list “Forces For Change”. You can use the Force Field Analysis diagram shown on page 47 of our Managing Change in the Workplace e-book as a guide.

Now place a line under each factor pointing to your center line. Make the length of each line proportional to the strength of each force; either for or against the planned change. You have now an instant picture of the current health of your change program. Work with your team to develop strategies for leveraging the predominant forces for change and for mitigating the strongest forces against change. Consult our Managing Change in the Workplace guide for lots of useful strategies for moving your change program forward.

In fact, you will find our change management e-book provides practical guidance on all of the key success factors highlighted in the IBM study. The IBM report further reinforces the key lessons and strategies we have been teaching all involved in change over the last few years.

These points of congruence are further brought to the front with the report’s key conclusions. The study highlighted the importance of these critical success factors:

1. Realistically plan the change and assess the cultural and behavioral challenges.

Managing Change in the WorkplaceOur Managing Change in the Workplace guide devotes a complete chapter to planning and includes three worksheets for you to work through your planning stage. The cultural and behavioral aspects of change are a key focus of our change methodology. Each phase of our change process helps concentrate your efforts on one aspect of this all-important people dimension.

2. Use a structured change management approach and method tied into a formal project management methodology.

Our CHANGE Approach centers on the five key phases of change: Create tension, Harness support, Articulate goals, Nominate roles, Grow capability and Entrench changes. Our guide and workbook are designed to help you move in a structured way through these five phases. In addition, we support a disciplined project management foundation to your change initiative and devote a complete chapter to project management methods.

3. Assign a dedicated and skilled change manager, get executive sponsorship and involve employees.

A key purpose of our guide is to boost your skills as a change leader without breaking your budget. We achieve this through action learning. Our guide supplies the tools and methods whilst you apply them immediately on your current change program. Resources for identifying and obtaining the top level support you need are provided within our CHANGE Approach. Involving employees is also a key focus throughout our change process, and a special chapter is devoted to getting change resisters on board.

4. Allocate resources for proper change management and invest in skills development.

Our guide, with its many templates and tools, can serve as a cost-effective change management resource for your organization. In addition, a key purpose of our guide is to lift the skills of everyone involved with organizational change. The guide includes a skills gap worksheet for all key players to assess their current skill level and to develop an action plan for closing identified gaps.

You might be forgiven for thinking that our highly practical change management resource will cost you hundreds of dollars. In fact, we are virtually giving it away at USD $50. To find out more and to download today, visit the Managing Change in the Workplace product page at www.businessperform.com/html/managing_change.html

Remember, our coaches and consultants are on hand to help you with your change management program. Simply send an email to office@businessperform.com requesting assistance. If you want to check out some basic information on change management to get you started, investigate our change management portal at www.businessperform.com/html/change_management.html


IBM Corporation (2008) Making Change Work Study

What our customers are saying about
Managing Change in the Workplace

Managing Change in the Workplace

“To date, Managing Change in the Workplace is the best resource I have found anywhere to help me do my work.”  Cindy Emmanuel McLean

“We are delighted with this programme.”  Margy Jackman

“I recommend this particular product for any organization that knows they are going to experience changes to their culture.”  Kellie Auld

Be sure to pass this newsletter on to friends and colleagues who want to stay up with what’s on. From all of us here on the Business Performance team, we wish you a productive month and look forward to communicating with you again soon.

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Top 10 Business Networking Web Sites

Making Change Management Work
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