HBR Highlight: How Good is Your Company at Change?

coracle News

We recently read an excellent article on change management in the Harvard Business Review, with the title “How Good is Your Company at Change? A new system for measuring (and improving) your ability to adapt“. In this article, we share highlights of what we learned and how we are trying to apply these lessons at Canaan Group.

During Covid-19 we all understood the importance of any business’ ability to adapt. The HBR team developed a system to measure a business’ capacity for change, based on 9 traits and abilities:

  • Purpose – a sense of belonging
  • Direction – translates purpose into a plan
  • Connection – the social side of change
  • Capacity – the limits of change
  • Choreography – ability to change priorities
  • Scaling – spreading innovation
  • Development – ability to grow
  • Action – builds momentum
  • Flexibility – staying in front of change

In a survey of 37 global organizations and almost 2000 employees, it was discovered a company’s change power is a good predictor of performance. “Companies that appear in the top quartile of the index are more profitable, with margins twice those of companies in the bottom quartile. Companies in the top half grow revenue up to three times as fast as do companies in the same industry that rank in the bottom half.”

So what can a company do to improve it’s change power?

  1. Get the facts – understand what your current change power is relative to your competitors and identify what you can improve.
  2. Disrupt how your work – invest actively to improve your company’s change power in a sustainable way.
  3. Mobile your leaders – Involve your team in developing shared ambition and creating an action plan.

The article had some great case studies of Delta Airlines, Worley, Assurant, and one of the world’s largest transportation and logistics companies and is worth the read. We also wanted to share some of our lessons in improving our change power, especially over the last 12 months.

With the move to remote work, not only for our team, but for the majority of our clients, we knew that easy access to information was going to be key. We had already invested into developing a software platform (Canaan Group Global Logistics Tracking System) that allowed all our staff and our customers to access shipment details in a central location. Originally, we expected our clients to take 3-5 years to adopt this system. With Covid-19, we knew adopting this system would be a key success factor for our clients, so we pivoted quickly towards helped them learn this new system, so they could work with ease from home.

Secondly, with our clients working from home and many needing to take care of their kids or elderly parents during the day, we knew they would be working all hours of the day from early morning to late evening. To continue to provide prompt replies while our clients were working, we established remote teams that worked out of the office and outside regular office hours, allowing us to respond to customers in real time.

Third, with the uncertainty of Covid-19 that the impact to the global transportation industry, we knew that a trusted news source for transportation would serve our clients well in allowing them to better plan. We put together a monthly newsletter (this one that you are reading) that highlighted all the key areas that might impact your business. This was emailed to our clients and partners, posted on our website, and shared on social media. On top of that, we would send out any urgent news stories.

1. How Good is your Company at Change? Harvard Business Review, July-August 2021 Issue, Accessed July 13, 2021.