Change Management by the Numbers: Devising a Strategy That Produces Results, and Advocates

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First in a Two-Part Series: Launching a Successful Proof of Concept

Corporate history is rich with tales that heed the need for proper change management to drive value from new strategies, plans and tactics – so much so that over the past few years we have seen a tremendous rise in the prevalence and credibility of the discipline.

Given that in retail all value lies in execution, this should not be surprising.

Shopper-centricity has been one of most significant trends driving retail growth globally. And while there has been much success, there are an equal number of challenges that cause many organizations to rethink their shopper-centric strategies. This presents the risk of not realizing the significant strategic and financial benefits available.

But research and experience demonstrate that shopper-centric strategies do not fail because companies don’t know what to do – they fail because companies don’t know how to execute, or lack the support to execute.

For a retailer or manufacturer to adopt a shopper-centric approach –¬ whether through pricing, promotion, assortment, store design or marketing – it takes more than data, shopper insight and a memo. Rather, it requires a comprehensive and committed set of tools, people and processes.

Such change can be daunting to many, but it doesn’t have to be. At Precima, we rely on a tried-and-true process that has worked for many clients. But it takes a measured approach to planning and prioritizing backed by management’s commitment across ranks.

First, let me define what shopper-centric change management means within our organization. We believe it stands on three pillars:

1. A Shopper-Centric Approach to Decisions and Tactics: A shopper-centric strategy requires changes in how a company makes decisions. This means integrating new shopper insights into the traditional data and development of new business rules upon which to make decisions – be it marketing, merchandising or operations.

2. Develop New Processes and Tools: Incorporate the new shopper-centric approach into the process, make necessary changes and support this change with the appropriate data and tools.

3. Align the Organization: We have all heard the axiom that what gets measured gets managed. For true change to be implemented, the organization must measure and manage its processes and teams in accordance with its new shopper-centric approach. The organizational structure, roles and policies – right down to how people are measured and evaluated – must change.

These pillars establish the platform upon which to build the change management plan. But the real question is how to get there, which this series will answer. In this first article, I will outline the steps to launching a “proof-of-concept” (POC) plan. The next article will guide from the POC to a full-scale organizational rollout, including change among structure, data, processes, team members and more.

A Proven Approach: Five Steps to A Successful Shopper-Centric Proof of Concept

1. Develop a shopper-centric strategy and team: An enterprise-wide customer strategy requires comprehensive segmentation and insights. It is vital to get senior and cross-functional commitment so decisions are made to meet the needs of priority customers. The organization also should establish its core Change Team, including key roles of staff members, and to establish accountability and reporting structure who will drive this change.

2. Prioritize shopper-centric tactics: Where to start? One of the most critical decisions made during change management involves picking the best-suited initiatives to drive the greatest value. At Precima, we use a formula that cross-references the potential value of the tactic with the organization’s ability to execute the plan. The result is the following matrix:

The Quick Win opportunities, those with significant insight value and high execution ability, are the primary POC targets. The Morale Boosters, with lower insight value but high ability among managers and resources, build organizational confidence and momentum. Together, the Quick Wins and Morale Boosters are prioritized as the initial proof-points, while Challengers are delayed for the longer term (once there is a strong foundation) and Resource Drainers are avoided altogether.

3. Define the shopper-centric approach: Next, identify shopper insights that encourage tactics that will deliver higher sales and profits. It is key to develop a shopper-centric approach to the selected tactic and build the analytics, recommendations and test plan based on how the strategy will be executed. This will require a decision-making process based on different metrics – one that examines traditional tactics through the scope of the priority shopper.

4. Develop the proof-of-concept plan: In partnership with the Change Team, a “POC Execution Team” is required to develop the plan, define the parameters and lead execution and measurement. Here, it is critical to pick the team that will be exceptionally open to change and have accountability for the tactics being executed – as both of these will be key for success. It is crucial to communicate and to work on a manageable scale ¬– the plan will only succeed with the right-sized tools and teams in place. This plan must also include the benchmarks and definitions for success that will support a rollout.

5. Execute, measure and build the case for rollout: Develop a series of tests and continuously measure the impact – from the strategic and financial benefits to process effectiveness, with lessons, best practices and opportunities to improve. The financial results support the cause for change; the organizational results provide the proof that change can be implemented.

One of the rewards of the POC approach is that it transforms the POC and Change Teams into credible advocates for change, driving organizational belief that the change can be implemented.

Indeed, the successful transformation to shopper-centricity relies on the quality of shopper insights and tactics as much as it relies on a credible implementation plan. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of a measured approach.

After all, change does not end with the plan. Instead, it starts here.

In his next article, Brian Ross will explain how to expand the POC companywide, through a successful rollout.

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