Positive Change in a Complex Environment – Creating Value Before the Next Global Shock


As a strategic and contingency planner, I have written many plans on a variety of global challenges including COVID-19, the importance of resilience and sustainability, and value creation in business. Having plans in place is a start and may make us feel better, but, unless we enact them swiftly, they are of little use. With Crises abounding, we need to look at ways to create opportunity and value, solve the multiplicity of challenges, and then take action to be effective. I am not a fan of the term ‘disruptor’, but in order to succeed, we will all naturally become ‘disruptors’. We need to look at what is achievable, the metrics behind them and then refine the process. History shows us that we invariably see problems on the horizon, know what we must do, but don’t do it until it is too late. COVID-19 has already taught us that responding quickly to problems makes a huge difference to the result.

Once we have identified what is needed within an organisation, we look at how we can create value – thereby delivering the service/capability, and creating efficiencies in the wider organisations greater than the cost of this service. Integration and automation of systems is important to all business functions; individually, applying this approach to the broader business processes provides huge efficiencies, many times that of the initial project.

There are a number of business support functions, which vary from company to company, but they are fundamentally the same. Using Global Payroll as an example, analysing and refining the processes that feed or are fed by payroll will greatly improve the capability, timings and efficiencies. Moreover, integrating the processes (and data) between Finance, HR, Talent Mobility, Tax, 3rd Party suppliers, whilst making best use of the existing IT, will dramatically improve the service and cost to the Company, overall. These related business functions, with different costs centres, are often more expensive and integrating them can save many times the cost of the payroll. This wider approach to change means that an additional service generates improvement, advantage and reduces overall costs, which is somewhat counter intuitive.

Most of us, familiar with managing risk, feel that this ‘human titration’ (experiment) of lockdown and changing requirements will go on for some time. However, the lessons we are learning on how we can create value and work better, in this environment, will become a critical part of the way we operate in the future. The work we do now to enact change, improve our businesses, our employee experience and engagement, is essential to do well.

We have been given the indicators for a Global Pandemic for many years, and like so many things, either we failed to learn from history or act on the knowledge gained. There are psychological reasons cited as to why we fail to respond to warnings including cost, panic, herd instinct; ‘it won’t happen to me’ or denying the impact of individual action. There have been many lessons, ideas and changes to emerge from issues with COVID-19, which we may also eventually benefit from.

As we consider how to generate greater value in what we do as a result of COVID-19, let us also consider the other bigger challenge we are already facing with triggers on the immediate horizon. Keeping safe and our economies going, implementing new business approaches and services is very important. As we try to recover from one ‘global shock’, let us also learn from history and act on the knowledge about another much greater problem, the changing climate, which has potential to make COVID-19 pale into insignificance by comparison.

I think that most people now understand that we need to do something about climate change. I mention this because the addition of ‘sustainable’ to become ‘creation of sustainable value’ extends profit to include social and environmental.  Therefore, the necessity of change and value creation for business now, becomes something critical to all our lives in the immediate future.

The process of change starts with analysis and sometimes simple questions can identify the answers to complex problems. We look at the scale of the challenge, the aim, processes, systems, interdependencies and constraints. This was the basis of our approach to our analysis of Global Payroll. We identified a simple set of questions and areas to be improved, that created value and options for analysis within organisations. The Global Payroll Assessment Tool can also be applied to related business functions, enabling analysis and delivery of high-quality services, and the creation of value within your organisation as a whole. The analysis and identification of the need will help businesses to deliver better profits – how that knowledge is then used has far reaching consequences.

My next article will be on the measurement of sustainable value…..

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