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Who leads business transformation?

Change management has become an integral part of an organisation’s infrastructure. However, in recent years, questions have been raised over where the change management responsibilities should sit and whether they are deserving of their own dedicated team or individual resource. We put this question to our experienced guest panel to understand their views on who should actually lead business transformation.


How can clients avoid failure in change management?

According to Dr Heidi Sundin, Management Consultant and ex-Chief of Staff at KPMG and Group Head of Transformation and Strategy at Coates Hire, business leaders need to ensure that the following key factors are considered when it comes to change management: 

We used to see transformations take 3-6 years, now the same transformations take 18 months. We need to build our leaders to think about what is coming next and what disruption my business will see, Dr Sundin says.
  1. The right strategy and direction
  2. Leadership and culture
  3. Execution

For Dr Sundin, the role of a change manager is not to own transformation change, it is to bring people together so that they build connections to manage the change and become accountable for it.

Andrew Biro, Change Manager at Commonwealth Bank of Australia argues that ‘the difference between change instilled by leadership vs dedicated change managers is the execution. Unfortunately business leaders don’t have the time to dedicate to efficient change management.  Although they don’t own the change, a change manager can drive the change to implement effectively across six months instead of 18. 

What does a change manager actually do?

According to Devi Rajcoomarsing, Senior Change Manager at Allianz, change is like changing the wheel on a bike while still riding it. In other words, her role is to:

  1. Ensure transformation is personal
  2. Get everyone on board to work together to achieve success
  3. Provide an innovative approach in order to get buy in from stakeholders
  4. Assess culture and change behaviour
  5. Lead the way to create collaboration and break silos

When asking Jane Counsel, Principal Consultant, MBA facilitator and ex-Head of Diversity & Flexibility at Westpac, agility is an essential component for change and leadership.

It is critical that leaders buy into change by mirroring behaviours they want to see within the organisation while overcoming barriers such as: artefacts, mission statements/processes, underlying tactical assumptions. 

Nathan Sri, Director of Workplace Strategy and Change at JLL sums up change in three principles:

  1. Role models – leaders are in powerful positions to drive the message of change forward
  2. Discipline – change management is a discipline and needs to be understood by everyone in the organisation
  3. Time – change takes time and needs to be brought into the ecosystem of an organisation.

Kurt Hunziker, Change Manager at BlueSeed explains that large organisations are complex systems andleaders are only one part of it. Change managers take the view that is a little external, with a broader picture in view and a specialised skill set and commitment.

Our role is to look at the system objectively by using all the parts to work with leaders to achieve change, Kurt Hunziker explains.

To be effective, change needs to be created and communicated by business leaders and implemented and driven by change managers. 

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