An estimated 40 percent of today’s S&P 500 companies will no longer exist a decade from now, according to a study from Washington University. One of the greatest challenges facing large corporations today is how to operate like a startup: have an inclusive and innovative culture, operate a flatter organization and be nimble regardless of size. So, how do you speed and scale change to convert ideas into action faster than anyone else?

3 Ways to Speed and Scale Organizational Change

There are three things we’ve learned after helping organizations (large and small) transform:

1. Install a Shared and Compelling Purpose

According to a recent study, 95 percent of the World’s Most Admired Companies (WMAC by Forbes) say organizational agility is a “critical” or “very important” focus area.

Innovation and agility require a high level of energy and cultural cohesion that can only come from unity around a clear understanding of why the company exists and how it creates value for stakeholders and society – in short, its purpose.

This especially rings true for the Millennials who will make up over 75 percent of the US workforce by 2025. This generation puts purpose at the top of their employer criteria. Purpose is critical to survival and sustained growth, tying directly to an employee’s motivation to engage deeply in his or her work.

A true purpose-based innovation agenda enables and perpetuates shared values, thereby creating a self-sustaining virtuous cycle. Organizations with a true sense of shared values and purpose have a better culture and enhanced collaboration; leading to a more cohesive and sustained energy that propels the business forward. This is essential to all industries and businesses attempting to stay relevant with their target audience.

Seventh Generation: Meaningful Social Purpose

Seventh Generation, a mission-based household goods company acquired by Unilever in a $600M deal in 2016, walks the walk of a highly meaningful social purpose: to inspire a consumer revolution that nurtures the health of the next seven generations.

Microsoft: A Renewed Sense of Purpose

Microsoft’s cultural refresh focused on clarifying what the company was built to do, and generated a renewed sense of purpose that has enabled it to remain not only competitive, but a leading force in the tech industry and society in general. “We believe in what people make possible” is a powerful purpose, and even more so when combined with their mission: “to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.” They’re building a culture that enables their people to focus on and pursue a purpose that is bigger than themselves.

2. Identify Your Key Influencers

Change is not a linear process. People are busy and not everyone is equally effective (nor interested) in driving and influencing change. Research reveals that 3-5 percent of people in an organization account for 20-35 percent of the value-adding collaborations.

Do you know who your 3-5 percent are? If so, are you harnessing their influence to accelerate performance? Use a smarter approach by identifying and unlocking the power of hidden influencers through Organizational Network Analysis (ONA). This group of engaged people help to train and build new capabilities whilst also supporting leaders to sustain change.

GM: Innovating & Adapting

With competitors coming from all angles, GM has been under attack. A key enabler that helps them innovate and adapt at the speed and scale of new and smaller automotive and tech companies is the smart application of ONA. Check out Adaptive Space by their chief talent officer, Michael Arena, for some great ideas and inspiration.

Lois Weisberg: The Quintessential “Connector”

Lois Weisberg, Chicago’s commissioner for cultural affairs from 1989 to 2011, was made famous in part by Malcolm Gladwell, author of the book “The Tipping Point,” who described her as the quintessential “connector.” As the Chicago Tribune noted when she passed away at the age of 90 in January 2016: “No Weisberg means, arguably, no Taste of Chicago. No Chicago Blues Festival. No Chicago Gospel Music Festival. No Cows on Parade … No After School Matters, surely the most successful arts-education initiative in the history of the city. No Storefront Theatre. No South Shore Line.” Connectors like Lois bring people, processes, policies, tools and technologies together, catapulting that exponential energy to the forefront to make a sustained difference.

3. Focus the Energy

Building and sustaining energy and information flow is one of the most difficult and important tasks in a transformation. So how do organizations build and coordinate energy? Most don’t think about it, and that’s the problem! A dedicated energy team is game-changing. The sole focus of this leadership team’s responsibility is to continuously ensure that the transformation aspiration captures people’s emotional excitement, engages their intellectual capacities and produces a sense of urgency for acting.

There are several design choices when establishing an energy team but, in our experience, it is best to start by using ONA to identify those people in the organization who are recognized by their peers for exuding positive energy. These “energy givers” most often are outside the formal hierarchical structures that leaders rely upon, and thus the power of positive, sustained energy goes greatly untapped in most organizations.

Final Thoughts

In today’s dynamic and disruptive world, there’s no time to spare in transforming your organization when the potential for disruption is just around the corner. Inaction bias is still an overwhelming barrier to overcome in large organizations. Build or refresh a sense of organizational purpose, identify the central influencers in the organization who catalyze the energy required to sustain transformation and establish an energy leadership team to be on the constant watch.

Learn how Prophet can help you unlock the potential of your employees through organizational change and stay tuned for more about the specifics on the 3S’s we are often asked by transformation leaders—where and how do I start, how do I scale and how do I speed it up?

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