You Can’t Stop Change, but You Can Manage It

Manufacturing is changing at a greater pace than ever before. So how do you keep up? There’s never going to be an easy answer to that question, but the trusted management firm McKinsey & Company has just come out with what it says are the four key characteristics of successful change management:

No mountain high enough: Aspirations to give inspiration

Few transformations achieve more than the goals their leaders set—especially in a typical risk-averse business context. That’s why high initial ambitions are so crucial. The instinct among leaders and managers to underpromise and overdeliver is so strong that only the strongest signals from the top can overcome them.

Moreover, there’s the practical reality that fulfilling high goals is really difficult, typically requiring leaders to shepherd hundreds, or even thousands, of initiatives through to completion. Nevertheless, the experiences of several organizations show that it’s possible, provided leaders plan for serious attrition rates. A recent analysis of high-stakes transformations found that on average, initiatives lost about 70 percent of their value between the initial idea stage and final tallying of the benefits. Accordingly, in order to reach a given target, a company will need a set of initiatives whose estimated value is at least three times the target amount.

That may not be possible at the very start. Instead, leaders will likely need to plan to “go back to the well” periodically to find additional opportunities. The consumer-products company, for example, set a goal of almost half a billion dollars in savings, and had to go back to the well several times in the first year to meet its goal successfully.

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