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In the business world, Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods was big news. On the first day of the acquisition, Amazon honored its promise of lowering prices across a variety of items, including beef, organic eggs and produce. The popular grocery chain will undoubtedly experience a number of other significant changes under the purview of the online retail giant. With its groundbreaking advances in employing analytics and big data to drive sales and operations, Amazon stands poised to disrupt the supermarket space, with Whole Foods at the epicenter. The culture and practices of grocery stores has changed little in decades. The transformations Amazon plans to implement will affect how the workforce communicates with customers and vendors, prices items, provides service, measures productivity and more. These changes are taking place more frequently in older industries, so it’s an excellent time to look at the importance of change management in an era of exponential organizational growth.
The exponential progress of the digital age has ushered in an era of incredible disruption. The status quo no longer ensures security or longevity. Obsolescence is a persistent threat to every business right now. What makes this present shift unique is that the emerging paradigm signals a convergence of digital and physical experiences. Rigid structures can no longer accommodate the elaborate interactions that will occur between technologies, stakeholders and talent categories in a given workplace.
These breakthroughs have led to fresh outlooks on running businesses, including models that are flexible, agile, mobile and design-centric. For all that, we can’t discount the importance of managing the changes that impact an existing employment culture.
Writing for Forbes, Professors Eric Anderson and Florian Zettelmeyer of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University discussed the situation at Whole Foods: “Amazon manages its online retail site in a way fundamentally different from how most retail supermarkets operate. For example, at Amazon the customer is a central unit of analysis, but in many supermarkets the products are the focus. Many retailers employ sophisticated category management practices, but they are far less involved with sophisticated customer management programs.”
”It would not surprise us if Amazon shook up Whole Foods stores in dramatic ways,” the professors added. “In the Amazon-Whole Foods universe, expect the variety of products within each store to shrink but the online selection to increase. Expect stores to reallocate some square footage to local delivery, further enhancing Amazon’s tremendous supply chain and delivery system. Expect the customer rather than the category to become the core focus. In sum, expect Amazon to slowly migrate away from both what is sold and how it is sold, and toward its customers.”
Success in the situations springs from the unification of cooperation and collaboration. Yet, to prevent disruption, optimize operational efficiencies and ease all stakeholders into the transition, a formal change management practice can make a world a difference.
Challenges can arise during any stage of a project, whether it’s the introduction of a new service offering, parent company or entirely different way of transacting business. One of the most important lessons learned is to avoid unnecessary pitfalls, thereby eliminating challenges that could become roadblocks.
Communications across all levels of the team, which can include staffing suppliers and the contingent workforce, must be carried out in a manner that prevents disruption to the daily workflow. A successful transition requires a thorough understanding of potential roadblocks, having resources who can execute thoughtfully, and forging a collaborative partnership with stakeholders.
To foster widespread program adoption, ensure that communications leaders are engaged. This is crucial for preventing lags in the implementation due to communication protocols, approvals or other factors. When staff are not personally informed of change, managing that change becomes a barrier to a successful deployment. Leaders overseeing the change must maintain open communications and receive support from advocates who can promote the program’s adoption throughout their organizations.
One of the biggest advantages of managing change is that it establishes a conceptual framework for people, processes and the enterprise. It’s a support mechanism to help everyone affected understand the change, its effects, its benefits and the reasons for embracing it.
Establishing a formal process for managing change helps support a smooth transition from the familiar to the new, preserving morale, generating excitement, maintaining performance and enhancing the image of the company.
An effective and systemic process of observation, analysis, reporting and execution defines a seamless change methodology. Here are some best practices for creating a change management methodology.
A formal change management process ensures that every member of the business understands and supports the change. It’s the final building block that brings cooperation and collaboration together. And this support is what makes change possible, driving innovation, competitive advantages, progress and new opportunities for growth.