There is no shortage of material in the Wall Street Journal to talk about change and transformations.
To Excel or Not to Excel. During the last week of November there were three articles talking about the death of Excel as a financial analysis tool. On one side, you have financial executives concerned about the ability to perform enterprise- wide analysis, on the other, you have individual finance professionals lauding the power of the tool allow them to flexibly analyze data. I’m not here to argue the merits of either position. I will comment on the magnitude of the change required to move away from the current state of Excel dependence.
Microsoft Excel makes it easy for financial analysts, and others, to perform analyses when large, complex, enterprise-wide software solutions could not. Particularly those ad-hoc analyses that they are often asked to perform. Asking analysts to give up that which is easy in favor of that which is integrated is an enormous change management issue.
On the other hand, Excel drives silo thinking since every function can pretty much do what they want, and in their own way. If an executive wants to see a consolidated view, it’s difficult, if not impossible, because each function has approached their work differently. This is a fitting example of cross-functional dysfunction.
So, more power to those executives to drive more consistency and have a consolidated solution, but be prepared to manage and lead through a significant amount of cross-functional dysfunction in the process.
Uber. Seems like not a day goes by that Uber is not in the news. I counted 22 articles in the Journal in the last week of November alone. When I read these, and think about one underlying issue, the word “integrity” comes to mind. If you don’t lead with integrity, and if you don’t hold your people accountable for integrity, your stakeholders will begin to question your fitness for leadership. Just ask former Enron executives.
Mergers and Acquisitions. Fox/Disney/Comcast, CVS/Aetna, ATT and TWC, Marvel/Cavium, and Qualcom/Broadcom. Some won’t happen, some are still in the works. Be sure of this: if the executives of the acquiring firm don’t swiftly integrate operations, which also means swiftly integrating cultures, these mergers will fail to deliver the intended value. Make it a priority, structure the process with winning leaders, engage employees to drive the change and focus on behaviors as much (or more) than financials.
Best Run Companies. On December 6, 2017, the Journal Report listed the top 250 best run companies. They included several criteria to justify their ranking. One important criteria were missing – how well they lead change. In an era of constant change, companies, and their leaders, should be evaluated on how well they lead change, including transformation and project success rates. Financial stability means nothing if you can’t shift with the tides.