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Article   |   Nalini Suparamaniam-Kallerdah   |   12.07.2022

Organisational transformation

Performing in the pandemic’s wake. How organisations best optimise what they do in the face of change.

New business pressures are changing organisations rapidly. Companies are under growing pressure to alter direction or achieve more, often with less or a new mix of resources and processes. In sectors where safety is critical, Vysus Group is supporting clients to transform effectively.

Organisations are increasingly approaching us with the need to think on their feet. Many companies require the flexibility to shift their operational focus quickly, while meeting health and safety demands. Reviewing an organisation’s resilience strategy every three months – rather than yearly – is a new norm. Elsewhere, mergers and acquisitions (M&As) pose particular challenges and are prevalent in the current climate. According to a recent Bain & Company report, 2021 saw the highest deal value in history for such deals. M&As introduce different ways of working, modes of communication and systems’ knowledge into an organisation. Change of this nature within high-risk industries has a tendency to cause cultural safety issues. In light of growing business complexity and uncertainty, how does an organisation transform effectively, robustly and safely?

While every company is different, the framework for organisational transformation remains the same. This is based around four core activities: plan, do, check and act. This well-established approach provides the necessary balance between the systems and behavioural aspects of management. It also makes sure that health and safety management forms an integral part

of management generally. For us as multi-disciplinary specialists across engineering and change management, this looping cycle has continually proven to deliver results, helping clients to optimise what they do, irrespective of the market conditions.

“Where do I begin?”

This is a question we hear most commonly. We often reply by starting small. We always respond by acknowledging what needs changing as a priority, fully understanding it and the change agents, and then managing the implementation of the solution. In optimising business performance, much can be learned from process safety, a term coined by the nuclear power industry.

Alongside high-level business goals, incident data, lost-time injuries (LTIs), equipment breakdown rates, cost-risk information and asset maintenance reports can all help to create a heat map for positive internal change. We supplement this raw data through audits, interviews of field staff, site inspections and reviews to help determine what’s working and what’s not. Our approach encompasses ‘the three Ps’.

  • People
    From the leadership team to supervisors and the workforce.
  • Processes
    From the procedures in place, including asset management and maintenance, to the training provided and how information is shared.
  • Place
    Encompassing the physical and ambient environmental conditions, from noise and light levels to when tasks are performed.

Areas of weakness

To state the value of good communication between teams sounds banal, yet time and time again it is often an organisation’s Achilles’ heel. With everyone a specialist, increasingly fewer individuals have sight of the big picture. With time ever-shorter, fundamental information isn’t shared and the people who are needed most for success – the workforce – feel excluded from the change required. We’re passionate about joining up change, ensuring the right information is raised with the right people at the right level of detail (not everyone needs the same level of information). This not only helps companies to thrive, but also ensures staff feel good – or at least much better – about what needs to happen next.

In rapidly evolving times, we see personal fatigue as another area to watch for and of growing concern, invariably born out of uncertainty in the direction a company is heading. From a psychological viewpoint, the focus of personnel can start to waiver with heightened levels of insecurity and tiredness. Fatigue can have serious consequences for safety critical industries, but is rarely tackled properly. Coaching leaders in managing uncertainty is part of a rounded solution, as is identifying and managing any related risk by putting in barriers that prevent incidents and, in the worst case scenario, limits the potential damage. We have seen the transformative effect of introducing simple practices, such as critical tasks no longer being carried out during nightshifts wherever possible. With a few valuable insights, this is common sense.

Opportunities missed

Most organisations focus on what is going wrong and mitigation measures, such as improving internal knowledge or offering personnel training. We also advise clients to highlight what is working well across their entire systems.

This approach encourages employees to repeat positive actions and new staff to learn from best practice, while moving away from a finger-pointing culture. We find it also means employees buy into what needs fixing more deeply, seeing the importance of change and the criticality of that particular element.

Organisational change is a complex subject, but positive transformation is possible.

Most organisations focus on what is going wrong and mitigation measures, such as improving internal knowledge or offering personnel training. We also advise clients to highlight what is working well across their entire systems.

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