EFQM | Primary Partner

Digital Disruption? It’s just good old change management

Fri, 23/06/2017 - 11:56

Having just passed my two year anniversary at BQF this month, I have been reflecting on the goals we have achieved and a few areas where, perhaps, we have fallen short.

The underlying thread over the two years is our management of constant change. We have experienced change within BQF and also as individuals developing our roles and learning new skills. In addition, having members from every sector and of every size has given us a front row seat watching the changing business environment. From an economic point of view much has changed. Growth is down – we could be languishing at the foot of the G7 league table, our currency is less strong for buyers and stronger for exporters, company earnings are flat, productivity is still a massive challenge outside of London and real wages are decreasing. And of course, the last twelve months has left us in a period of political and trade uncertainty.

We cannot do too much to influence all of these areas but we can manage and master our own changing landscape. We have had to absorb staff turnover, a new organisation structure, people joining with new capabilities and skill sets, a new image and marketing direction, a new office that is now a member hub and amazing events with world-class speakers. We’ve also reviewed and tried to improve every process. I believe the team at BQF has adapted well and thrived with the many things that have been thrown at them whilst delivering even more to our members and gaining our best ever customer satisfaction scores: Results from the recent Membership Survey show 94% of our members would highly recommend membership and more than 86% suggest our performance has been very good or excellent.

Looking at our change journey at BQF, there has been no Kubler-Ross change curve though I have never really agreed with a method that is derived from a study in grief rather than business change. Like most companies, BQF has to be prepared for ongoing, emergent and potentially disruptive change. We don’t have and continue not to have a documented change plan, no integrated programme plan, we haven’t used or even talked about a change methodology such as Kotter and we haven’t had to spell out the benefits of change to each team member. What I think we have is a belief that things needed to change, still do and there are benefits of this change to be enjoyed by our members. We have kept a growth mindset, always understanding we may make mistakes, being quick and agile when implementing and breaking change into manageable chunks albeit sometimes big chunks!! And trying to learn from our mistakes!

In addition to welcoming change and the right mindset we have established some common personal values. These are not written down and are largely unspoken but they are probably the most important core of our business. Everyone in the team, I imagine, will have a different lens but this is what I see:

  • We try to communicate as much as we can as early as we can when change is afoot.
  • Importantly, we listen well!
  • We are authentic with each other, we bring our whole selves to work and share and support each other as much as people do or don’t want to.
  • We try not to sell to each other but build relationships and rapport and try to meet each other halfway.
  • We have all learned to adapt, face the challenge and take feedback.
  • Most of all we all recognise we are here to make BQF better for our members.

Our change has been and is continuous and is ever emerging in new and different ways every week. Like our members we are dealing with a faster pace of change in the world, with new ideas and new ways to deliver these ideas. We could use words such as “disruptive” or “digital” but they are so over used and misunderstood. Uber is a cab company with a great user interface (instant feedback, transparency of information and no being put on hold!!!) in the same way as John Lewis is a retailer with a great user interface (amazing staff with total focus on customer service and transparency across all channels). Both use digital channels to deliver their great user experience but their business models rely on people to deliver the service so I wouldn’t call either a disruptive business model or a digital company.

It’s been an amazing two years of change at BQF as we strive to become an improved organisation. As many leaders in organisations will appreciate, when given some belief and responsibility people are generally pretty good at change and I am hugely grateful and full of admiration to my team for making our change happen.


If you are interested in change and disruption join us at our event in October:

Digital Disruption: Is it Business as Usual?

Thursday 12 October 2017, 1.00 – 6.00pm
Hosted by Barclays
5 North Colonnade, London E14 4BB
This will NOT be another Digital event about a technology overhaul with the coming of robots and the ‘Uberfication’ of everything.
NO, at this event, with the help of Professor Julian Birkinshaw, one of the world’s foremost experts of digitisation and change, we want to explore whether digital ‘disruption’ is just another organisational issue or business change that needs to be managed.  We want to challenge the hype about this topic and suggest that technology is a means of transforming, not an end in itself. Think about it, by its very nature a digital transformation has no firm endpoint; as an organisation nears its future vision the process keeps evolving: is it just ongoing change?