This week we catch up with Alicia Lillington on change, transformation and diversity for business. What makes is so difficult, how change differs from transformation and why diversity is so important. Alicia provides insight on where and how she sees businesses being able to make the biggest gains over the next 12-18 months.
Alicia works as a Change and Communications Lead, empowering stakeholders to embrace change, where culture meets technology. Alicia has worked on a range of high-profile projects for the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Department of Human Services, the Australian Bureau of Statistics and IP Australia. In these roles Alicia has led programs of work focusing on women’s participation in STEM subjects, particularly in technology.
Q. What is it about change that makes it so difficult for businesses?
A. As humans, we get used to what we know. Change involves the unknown, and while some of us embrace change, at times we may also fear it.
We also have different definitions and viewpoints of change based on our own personal experiences.
It is difficult to accurately measure the soft factors of change and whether they are successful. This is why it’s important to clearly define scope, adoption and usage goals at the beginning of a change process.
Q. What is the difference between change and transformation?
A. Change is a process that directly improves a version of the past. It can be reversed. For example, the shift from a paper-based form to a digital form.
Transformation is a paradigm shift that creates a new future from something that didn’t formerly exist.
Q. Diversity seems to a word we hear daily, but why is it important?
A. Most people accept that diversity is important, but the more difficult element is to articulate why. And that’s where we need to shift our focus – to the why.
We can create better outcomes with diverse perspectives.
A more diverse workforce enables work that better reflects the needs and priorities for all people.
A growing body of research shows that:
- inherently diverse contributors understand unmet needs in under-leveraged markets
- organisations with the most diversity outperform those with the least,
- increasing the proportion of women in leadership roles is associated with better financial performance, and
- diversity in teams promotes an environment where innovation can flourish.
Q. Where do you see businesses being able to make the biggest gains over the next 12-18 months?
A. I think now is a great time to conduct a post implementation review. What worked well over the last 12 months? What didn’t work? What questions are left unsolved? From these questions, businesses can make an action plan for the next 12-18 months.
I’m also an advocate for internal ideas challenges and experimentation with out of the box ideas.
A business’ biggest asset is its people. 2020 has been challenging for us all, and I think there will be an increased need to support health and wellbeing, and in turn this will allow businesses to make the biggest gains.
I would conduct an assessment of work locations and what works well for people. If your employees are more productive and feel more comfortable working from home, I think you should be looking at ways to support this.
Supporting people also relates to customers – I think the biggest gains in the next 12-18 months will relate to human connection and creating space for people to feel supported.
Q. What is the best advice you have for businesses looking to manage change?
A. Four fundamental factors that contribute to successful change are time, people, resources and financial results. It’s important to allocate the right amount of effort to each of these depending on the needs of the organisation and the scope of the change.
All levels within the organisation have a responsibility for owning their part in change.
A common language regarding the change should be clearly articulated, including key messaging and clarifying the case for change.
It’s important to have a Senior Sponsor who actively shows support for, and participates in the change.
Finally, of course, consider working with a Change Manager to help you manage change.