Curium Solutions – Simplified Change Management, Birmingham, West Midlands

The rats are multiplying: how small changes have major business impacts

I’ve been working in a new city this week and have been really impressed by the amount of regeneration it’s gone through – there’re plenty of lovely places to shop, eat and drink as well as theatres and other suitably cultural venues to enjoy.

But there’s one problem. On the walk back to the hotel, you couldn’t avoid hearing them rustling in bushes or seeing them strolling around the car parks as bold as you like: rats.

Discussing it with colleagues, rats are indeed a major problem in the city thanks to an innocuous ‘minor tweak’ made by the regional water company some years earlier.

The story goes that, in a bid to cut costs, the water company stopped rat-baiting in the city’s sewers. This ingenious solution would save money with negligible impact on water quality and nothing more was thought about it.

But, fast forward two years and this lovely city now resembles Hamelin.

This story made me think about how often we find that change is seen by one business area as a ‘small tweak’ because they’ve only considered the effect it will have on them. Meanwhile, days and sometimes months after implementation, the change is found to have a massive impact on other business areas, customers, and/or suppliers.

This problem can be easily resolved by two things:

  • Upfront proactive consideration of the fact that we operate in a world of systems where one small change can impact on multiple parts of that system
  • Making an impact assessment a fundamental part of your project management process, to ensure that the wider impact of everything from your ‘small tweak’ to your strategic transformation is considered

In my experience, this critical piece of the puzzle is easily forgotten about. Taking the time to thoroughly think through all the consequences of the changes you want to make by following a set of simple processes can save companies millions by getting it right first time.

Donna is a Business Consultant at Curium Solutions specialising in all aspects of business change.

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