Firms need to build change into their corporate DNA as understanding about organisational change shifts from it being project based to a perpetual cycle – writes Scott Guthrie
The old way to ‘deal’ with change was to rent expertise from change management consultants. But it’s know-how not know-what that enables companies to achieve their corporate goals.
And, when strategy evolves or takes a sharp turn, new know-how is often needed.
Organisational capabilities are bundles of competences
Capabilities are bundles of different competences, skills and approaches. They are not single discrete skills or work procedures. Capabilities are deeply embedded within an organisation; in its routines, frameworks, communication channels, HR systems, and in its problem-solving and decision-making abilities.
Capabilities have to be built from within. They can’t be bought in. Sure, you can buy new technology or hire new staff with relevant experience. But capabilities are the way these things are brought together:
- the culture that forms
- the way things are shared, talked about, tinkered with
- the importance some things are given over other things.
In this way everyone within the organisation plays a role in building capabilities. Not just the ‘top brass’ or the middle managers.
Building organisational capabilities comes from a combination of different resources – people rather than things; including employees’ skills. Capability effectiveness relies on how well they are bound together.
Often this success falls on the shoulders of the internal communicators and in the public relations function. It’s here via two-way symmetrical communication that an organisation’s culture, processes and motivation through empowerment are aligned.
Ultimately, building capabilities is about harnessing the knowledge which exists within the organisation: building, retaining, assessing, transferring and integrating this knowledge.
Nurturing a creative, learning culture
To cope with today’s work environment marked by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) means building a capability of change by nurturing a creative, learning culture. One marked by:
- organisation-wide entrepreneurial spirit
- a shift from bureaucracy to a network
- trust and tolerance of failure
- continual testing and learning why, not just how
This is an excerpt from my chapter New change management: building creative firms in A Communicator’s Guide to Successful Change Management, edited by Craig Pearce, a free resource packed with user-friendly and functional insights and advice on how communication contributes to effective change management.
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