Moments of change and transition are common and necessary. Staying competitive and pursuing new opportunities demands that business continue to reinvent, deconstruct, update and evolve. Business change and transition can include adaption of a new strategy, changes in leadership, entry into new markets, release of new products and services, updating or migrating to new technology platforms, centralizing or decentralizing a function, etc. But these moments of change put unique stresses on the organization that can reveal how aligned the organization is behind its promise to customers.

The challenges and stresses created by moments of change will often bring to the surface various mindsets that are held, various behaviors that are in direct alignment with those mindsets and various cultural or leadership misalignments that, if not considered, can easily threaten the desired change. These moments provide great insights for leaders on the true level of alignment that exists in the organization.

Times of change and transition also provide the perfect opportunity to have the alignment conversation with everyone in the organization.

Some Organizations Thrive on Change

In 25 years of working with leading global organizations, it is continually fascinating how various organizations deal with change. Some  thrive on it. It’s expected and a normal part of doing business. The culture of these organizations allows for ongoing change and the transitions are, for the most part, well received and cause minimal disruption.

At the other end of the spectrum are organizations that seem to be highly disrupted by change. These moments of transition seem to break down the organization. The transitions are difficult and the legacy of the change can hang like a dark cloud over the culture for many years. We worked with one change-adverse organization that had experienced a merger several years prior. Even after all that time, the people in the company were identified by the original group that had been around before the merger, and deep divisions were still very apparent and destructive to any motion forward.

How do you build an organization that is adaptable to change? If your organization is already adaptable, then how do you leverage change to build competitive advantage by creating laser focus on the delivery of your brand promise to customers?

Being Clear on the Brand Promise Makes Change Easier

We believe the organization’s level of Internal-External Brand Alignment is a key indicator of potential success regarding change. IEBA is the constant process of aligning your internal organization behind the core promise to customers that your brand represents. When an organization is clear about its promise to customers and is aligned behind the ongoing successful delivery of this promise, well-conceived moments of change are considered positive and on the path toward ongoing fulfillment of customer expectations. In many cases the change is met with excitement as it intuitively makes sense. It’s easy to believe. And since behavior follows belief, the change can be navigated more rapidly and successfully.

When organizations are not clear about their promise, when alignment behind this promise doesn’t exist in the culture, then moments of change become less intuitive and their purpose less clear. For these organizations, change creates yet another opportunity for cynicism to grow and for fragmentation to occur. Rather than a moment of change standing as an example of the team’s commitment to its purpose, the moment of change is seen as simply disruptive, frustrating, and the flavor-of-the-month that results in jaded team members.

Regardless of where on the spectrum your organization may be, focusing on the fundamentals of Internal-External Brand Alignment during moments of transition can bring tremendous benefits to the company. For organizations not clearly aligned behind their purpose and commitment to customers, a moment of change provides the natural opportunity for the organization to engage in that conversation at a deep level. It’s the perfect opening for leaders to introduce the concepts of IEBA into the company and evolve the culture in a direction that will make current and future transitions easier and more effective. For organizations already clear about their core purpose and the promise to customers, moments of change can be a catalyst to seize competitive advantage, re-energize teams, strengthen and streamline the various functions, and set the groundwork for major moves forward.

We would like to hear your thoughts. Do you see the value in focusing on internal alignment with your external brand promise during moments of major change? What has worked, or not worked, for you in the past.

If you have an upcoming business transition or change and would like to talk further about how internal-external brand alignment can be leveraged, contact us and we would be happy to talk further.

About Kurt Kennedy

Kurt founded Kennedy Communications in 1988 as a media production company. Since then, Kennedy Global has evolved into the leading internal-external brand alignment agency. Kurt and his team create strategic business solutions that align a company’s external customer promise with an engaged internal culture that generates tremendous results at every level of an organization. Kurt and his team have created strategic programs for some of the world’s most recognized brands including Intel, Nike, Office Depot, Starbucks, Albertsons, Adobe, Dell, LensCrafters, Target Optical, Sunglass Hut, Safeway, Unilever and many others. In addition to consulting with clients, Kurt frequently serves as a speaker and facilitator at a variety of business events around the world including strategy sessions with executive leadership teams, interactive workshops and training sessions at corporate summits, and keynote presentations at industry events. Kurt earned his BA in Mass Communications from Walla Walla University. He enjoys traveling in his spare time.