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Size Matters: Finding the perfect size team for transformation and change

Published on 2nd November 2021

​As we finish 2021 a lot of transformation is happening right now. Business change, digital change, operating model change. This has been exacerbated by COVID/lockdowns. Businesses have had to pivot and adapt to a vast number of out-of-control socio-economic factors and workforces have dramatically changed in this time also.

The success and speed of any transformation is going to be linked to how good the team is delivering the change.

With the right team you can move mountains.

I teamed up with Change Management expert Lata Hamilton to discuss some of the key trends that have impacted transformation in the last couple of COVID-affected years and what we think some of the ‘wins’ and ‘watch outs’ are when putting together transformation teams.

Our key takeaways follow.

Decision One – ‘The Slashie’

There are so many different roles that could sit in a transformation team…

Program manager, Change Manager, Transformation Manager, Business Analyst, Process Analyst, Communications Specialist, Training Specialist, Test Lead, Operations Lead/ Business Team Lead…. the list goes on!

Do you need one of each of these roles or could you have a jack of all trades?

One of the biggest trends we’ve seen in the last couple of years is the rise of ‘The Slashie’.

It’s a hybrid blend of skillset, for example: project /[slash] change, change / communications, transformation / change, BA / PM, or BA / Process.

This is one of the most significant change we have seen in during the COVID era.

What are the key wins and watch outs for the rise of the Slashie?

Key wins:

- A lot of Change people have diverse skillsets – they’ve often transitioned ‘into Change’ from another world.

- Hiring a Slashie could potentially save budget – two headcounts reduced into one.

- You can split their role over the course of the project lifecycle, being able to utilise their different skills for different periods.

- They fit quite well into agile environments.

Key watch outs:

- Could impact project success, with people & skillsets spread too lean.

- Too much work for too few people?

- You could lose out on quality, as true specialists with defined skillsets could potentially be able to deliver high quality results quicker.

- Skill utilisation – could you have invested in top quality Change Managers who spend too much time doing admin? Is this a proper investment to quality to outcome return?

- Top talent could roll off before the project is delivered, which doesn’t help change to be embedded.

- Best candidates may not want to take roles where they don’t utilise their most important skills.

Decision #2 - Employment Type

From a trend perspective we’ve noted over the COVID period that contractors are being encouraged to move to fixed term and permanent, whereas traditionally there has been a lot of contract work. What are the key wins and watch outs of this?

Key wins:

- Can save cost and time of ongoing hiring.

- Stable pool of resources.

- Attractive to people who are looking for stability, especially on the less experience side.

- Gives the talent an opportunity to learn new skills and the business can retain the knowledge as the talent is sticking around.

Key watch outs:

- More admin and overheads.

- Talent might not build diverse experience and skill sets as they are sitting on the same projects or staying in the same industry. This is particularly important given the best Change practitioners are built on diverse experience.

- High performers are motivated by growth and new challenges – contracting continually offers this.

- Can miss out on good talent if you aren’t offering the right salary (particularly with fixed term contract).

- Contractors and permanent employees tend to be treated the same which shouldn’t be the case!

- If you don’t develop your permanent staff, they won’t stay engaged & they won’t grow at all!

Decision #3 - Hiring Source

Do you hire through an internal pipeline (such as a Change practice) or do you hire externally (through an agency / consultancy etc)?

A trend we’ve seen a rise in internal change practices in the last few years. What are the key wins and watch outs for using these?

Key wins:

- Consistency and alignment through the change in the organisation.

- You can split resources over projects a lot easier.

- There is a growing appetite to move into change and growing interest in change skill, so this offers a way to consistently offer opportunity within that space.

Key watch outs:

- Enterprise change functions aren’t that easy to implement. Large businesses are full of silos and it’s difficult to scale up the function and be consolidated to solve these.

- You may be good a leading change but are you good at teaching it?

- You need to put effort into building out that functionality. Change Practices are losing talent because they aren’t developing people enough and they are feeling overwhelmed.

Our Conclusions

What is the perfect size? It all comes down to good scoping. It is not one size fits all!

The key questions that you must answer surround the change itself: What the change is going to be? How many people are changing? What is the business impact? What is the outcome you want? How are you going to embed the change?

To successfully scope this, we suggest finding the answers to these questions and then you will be able to build the team successfully from that:

- What metrics would you use to evaluate the size of the team?

- The amount of business units.

- How many people are going to be impacted by this change and what is fit for purpose?

- What is your budget?

- What is going to make this a success and what are the must haves?

You can watch a full recording of the webinar here.

If you would like to discuss this topic further please contact,Paul McCann