Financial services organisations have proved themselves capable of making small changes to improve operations. However, success today hinges on a broader, multi-disciplinary transformation that affects the entire fabric of the industry―from culture to business models to customer channels. That’s a very ambitious, and even daunting, proposition—considering the many challenges firms face in managing this type of whole-sale transformation.

First of all, firms are constantly operating under time and budgetary constraints. Regulatory pressures add to the burden, requiring precise prioritisation of change initiatives. Further complicating the issue is the tendency for financial services organisations to focus on initiatives intended to drive effectiveness and manage risk, rather than encourage agility and innovation—which are key change capabilities in today’s business environment. But perhaps the greatest inhibitor to holistic change is the pervasive lack of understanding about organisational strengths and weaknesses and how they influence a firm’s ability to change—or its “change fitness.”

This lack of understanding can result in:

  • An ongoing struggle to truly transform the organisation
  • The continual failure of specific change initiatives
  • Change initiative benefits or outcomes that don’t live up to the original expectations

What’s the solution? Applying analytics to improve change fitness.

Analytics delivers the answers

These days, organisations have at their fingertips a wealth of data and data processing capabilities that can help them take an objective and scientific approach to driving deep organisational change and improving their change capability. How? Analytics can reveal strengths and weaknesses within a firm that, when addressed effectively, can help drive the kind of large-scale change that will sustain competitiveness.

Accenture uses Change Tracking to perform this type of “change fitness” evaluation. You can learn more about Change Tracking and the financial services industry in my recently published report, Join in the race or be left behind: how “change” is changing the competitive landscape in financial services.

At the heart of this process is developing an organisation’s profile in relation to a broad set of capabilities that are necessary to successfully drive whole-sale change—capabilities such as accountability, teamwork, communication, and passion and drive—to name a few. Once a firm has developed its profile, it can work to improve its capacity to change by shoring up weaknesses where gaps and cracks are likely to appear. The goal is to create a balanced set of capabilities that can work together to achieve holistic change.

Here is why this is so important. All too often organisations focus on their natural strengths and traditional actions in implementing strategic change initiatives. For example, financial services firms tend to be inherently good at communication, but are perhaps weaker in other areas. If their change strategy consists primarily of enhancing communication, it will be less effective than concentrating their effort and investment on other critical areas that have greater potential for improvement.

How to improve change fitness

The first step in improving your organisation’s change capability is to enlist the support of change analytics to identify your firm’s strengths and weaknesses. Then, take steps to create balance throughout the spectrum of capabilities—improving areas that are weak points and monitoring initiatives all along the way. Be sure to take advantage of digital and other technology improvements that free employees from task-oriented activities so they can engage at a deeper and more collaborative level. Encourage learning and development as core skills. Incentivize leadership at all levels, fostering accountability, teamwork, and passion and drive.

Debunking common myths about change in financial services

It’s also worth mentioning that often one of the greatest stumbling blocks to driving holistic, sustainable change is believing in the following change myths:

  • Taking on too much change at once results in diminished benefits
  • Change distracts organisations from their priorities and results in poor business performance
  • If you focus on training and communications you can provide an effective baseline for implementing the change
  • People need to understand the reasons behind change before they embrace it

None of these is true.

A professional approach to change

The development of advanced analytics, coupled with massive data sets, enables financial services organisations to elevate change management to an insightful and controlled effort underpinned and guided by science.

In his book, “Big Change, Best Path: Successfully managing organisational change with wisdom, analytics and insight,” Accenture Strategy, Talent, & Organisation Managing Director Warren Parry provides significant insights into how organisational change occurs, guiding business leaders and managers in successfully managing change in today’s business environment. Click here to learn more about his book and get additional information on successfully managing change—including a deeper debunking of common myths about organisational change.

To learn more about using data-driven insights to enhance change capability, please see:

Join in the Race or Be Left Behind

Professionalising Change in Banking

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