The Retail sector is going through profound, fundamental and on-going change. High street shops are closing at an accelerating rate while fierce online competition is squeezing already tight margins. Many retailers are responding by restructuring and transforming their businesses in different ways, but with such complex programmes there are many things that can go wrong.
Here at 4C, we have been supporting retailers on that journey for many years and consistently find that the most successful transformation programmes have 9 common traits:
1. Established vision
Define your guiding North Star. What is the single, top-line vision that aligns your organisation and sets out the shared goal? You will only be successful if everyone has the same target to shoot for!
2. Comprehensive plan
Build and share a comprehensive plan before you start, so you don’t have to make it up as you go along. You would be surprised how often this happens! At the same time, assign a dedicated programme manager to ensure every project team is kept honest about their progress. This person needs to be deep in the details, otherwise this ends up wasting everyone’s time.
3. Transparent timelines
Don’t drag out making changes, you’ll always find a reason why now is not the right time! If you want to keep your teams engaged and excited, aim to start a first pilot of changes after about 4-6 months. Also make sure to give teams clear visibility of what the overall timeline is likely to look like.
4. Strive for simplicity
Very simply put: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Smaller and regular changes in bite-size chunks usually work better than a complex big bang change that comes out of nowhere.
5. Executive authority
Transformation and change projects need clear decision makers with authority across all your project areas. They need to be visible throughout the project to endorse changes and encourage adoption, otherwise people will shy away from taking responsibility and the transformation fails.
6. Defined measures of success
As the old saying goes: What gets measured, gets done. Therefore, think early about how you will measure success! We have found that a pyramid model often works well, whereby a single, organisation-wide metric is connected down to team-specific and individual targets. This cascade approach allows management to understand movements in the top-line metric and how different teams are affecting it. It also gives teams clarity and focus on how the changes work.
7. Clear transition
The key to a successful and smooth transition is to have a worked-up transition plan before you implement any changes. People will not change if they are not confident in the overall plan. It can also help to prepare a list of FAQs before any roll-out, so you have answers to the most common questions.
8. Positive project PR
Think about specific benefits for each affected team and how it makes their life easier, better, and simpler – the answers to the question on everyone’s mind: “What’s in it for me?”. Use these as headers and key messages for communicating with each team.
9. Constant communication
This is where things tend to go wrong often and early. First, identify key stakeholder groups and how to keep them up-to-date. Develop detailed comms plans for each group – don’t forget that this includes not just the management team, but also your frontline teams! Then make sure to provide a regular drumbeat with news and updates through channels such as newsletters, town halls, and intranet articles. The important thing here is to not let people feel like you forgot about them!