Manage well, build for the future and be ready to innovate, says Queen’s prof

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TORONTO, Ont. — According to Dr. Elspeth Murray, Associate Professor, Queen’s School of Business, it’s the most flexible and adaptable organization which best survives change, and the best time to change is when you are at the height of your success, when you’ve got funds, time, and the goodwill of your colleagues.

Speaking at a Microsoft Canada executive circle event on Maximizing Operational Efficiencies, held in Toronto recently, Murray discussed how organizations can best manage change.

Great organizations share some commonalties, said Murray, namely great leadership, innovation, a defined, forward-looking strategy and a dynamic culture.

But don’t rely on senior leadership to hold the flag when it comes to strategy – most senior vice presidents have a tenure of just a couple of years, noted Murray.

She added that every time an organization sets out to implement something new, it will encounter the 20-70-10 rule. Essentially, 20 % will be on board, 70 % will be on the fence, and 10 % will be against any change.

“Be careful not to focus all your attention on the 10%,” she said, “because they will never change.”

Success is ultimately the ability to well balance these positions. Success also depends on how you properly mete out the time you take to manage today’s business efficiently vs. the time you take to create and build for the future, she said.

Recognizing the triggers that signal change, or having effective radar of sorts, is also key to success.
Customers, and employees, if empowered, often come up with their own solutions which need recognition.

And further, there is a link between customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction, noted Murray. In fact, the top three drivers of employee satisfaction are the ability to satisfy customer needs, to possess appropriate skills and knowledge, and to influence the workplace.

Other items which should flash on your radar screen are post 9/11 security issues.

“You should expect to absorb increases in inventory within your cost structure,” said Murray, who noted the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has done studies on Just-In-Time inventory, and has concluded that the industry could “easily” absorb increases amounting to some $20B in inventory within their cost structure.

In the fallout of post-corporate scandal, organizations should also be as proactive as possible on measures such as Sarbanes Oxley, environmental, and security compliance, to avoid the rush of joining in when you have to, she said.
Look for opportunities in your organization to be early adopters of technology, with regard to RFID, nanotechnology, and electronic paper/digital ink.

“Is there something in your business related to these technologies?” said Murray.

While the trend towards globalization, outsourcing and offshoring is not new, more and more services, not just goods, will head offshore, such as insurance, she noted.
“Every industry will be impacted, in different but significant ways. This is all about creativity. Get a strategy, foster innovation, engage your employees, and lead and manage the changes that result,” advised Murray.

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