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Change Management
Private Equity Operations

Strategy vs Change : Pure vs Applied

Big name consultancies bring their “challenger” thinking and “blue-sky” approaches to envisioning business transformation. They bring big picture approaches which are promoted by the think-tanks, business schools, and maybe some tales-from-trail from leading players in what is perceived to be a related sector.

It is good to provoke hard thinking within businesses which may be attracting or embarking on significant change. “Where do we want to be in x years?” is a laudable question for all businesses.

Our experience is that there is a big gap between “the Vision-thing” and bringing that vision to the shop floor. “What/where?” is for the Managing Partners. The “How?” is best addressed by those closer to the workface and current practice. There are those who “sell the sizzle” and there are those who “make the sausage”.

4VCO is in the “How” business. Specifically, within Private Equity Operations. We feel qualified to comment on the grounds of exposure to operations in the sector for over twenty years. Here are a few observations based on our experience. In particular, our experience of following on from the strategists. Let us bring together some Critical Failure Factors (CFFs) observed “in the field”.

1 – Communication

Sharing the Vision before the ground has been prepared. Get the messaging right. Share at the right pace to the right people. Make sure you have the answers to the sensible questions which your stakeholders will raise.

2 – Capacity for Change

Change is an overhead for those with frontline responsibilities. It is rarely possible to introduce real change without significant input from current operations team members. Year-end is always a good time to introduce the notion of change!

3 – Impact of Change

Consequence, consequences. Is it fully understood what parts of the business (internal and the wider supply-chain) are likely to be affected by the proposals? What other factors need to be taken into consideration?

4 – Planning

Aspiration vs Results. Change is effective when there are planned deliverables converging on that grand design. “Points-on-the-board”. Get people believing that all the disruption (yes, change is disruptive) is yielding positive benefits. Break down the vision into tangible, beneficial outcomes, step-by-step.

5 – Risk Management

A big consideration in the planning process. Think in terms of Threats and Vulnerabilities but weigh those against Opportunity Cost. Risk management informs the other four pillars of Change. If your Risk Assessment is sound at the outset and kept under review, you can respond to the inevitable changes to the plan.

Get these five right and you are on the way to a successful programme. One in which your team engages and makes them feel they have contributed to that success. Not a big bang, but a progress towards a new way of working.