Canadian Underwriter

5 questions to answer before transforming your business

June 5, 2019   by Adam Malik

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So you want to change the way you do business. Great. But before you start turning things upside down, ask yourself five key questions to make sure you’re going to do it properly.

Transforming business and the culture within it is a difficult thing to do, said Richard Natale, senior director analyst at research and advisory firm Gartner, who posed the questions at the Gartner IT Symposium XPO in Toronto this week.

First, he said, can you explain what you want your business to transform into, and why?

“The ‘why’ is important, because people do things out of habit,” Natale explained. “They do things because they have to do them; because they work. They get things done for people. Knowing what and knowing why is Number 1.”

After you know what you want to be and the reason behind it, can you explain all of that in two minutes or less?

People’s attention span is short and you need to hold it, Natale said. “Not easy to do, but I don’t care if you’re the CEO talking to the guy on the street, the first line supervisor or a programmer – people are busy. If you can’t say things clearly and directly in two minutes or less, you’re going to lose their attention.”

Third, ask if you can do all the above without using corporate jargon. Think of all the times your eyes have glazed over when you hear common buzzwords come out of the mouths of speakers. Your staff will feel the same way.

“Corporate words are designed to be opaque,” Natale said. “It’s not clear. I don’t care if you’re speaking French or English, or whatever language you’re operating in, use simple words.”

Fourth, can your words motivate people to action?

“People have to feel change in their guts,” Natale said. “That’s how people work. This is not a cerebral exercise. People don’t think their way into a culture change.”

Finally, is your messaging consistent? Each member of the leadership team needs to be able to give the same answers as the others. If the message is mixed, expect confusion. “If you have Leader A here and Leader B there, and they’re answering the same question two different ways, the person in the middle will not know what to do,” Natale said.

Five questions to answer before you embark on transforming your organization:

    • Can you tell me what your organization is transforming into and why?
    • Can you do it in two minutes or less?
    • Can you do so without using corporate speak?
    • Can you be motivating?
    • If I took your colleagues into a different room and asked them the same questions, will they answer them the same way?

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