Beyond gadgetry: Changing the game in maintenance – Can Consumer Brands regain Control over their Marketing Performance? – Change management – How Good Is Your Company at Change?

TextileFuture’s today issue of the Newsletter is offering to you two interesting items and a feature as infographic.

The first item is entitled “Beyond gadgetry: Changing the game in maintenance” and is based upon a paper of McKinsey and written by Phil Long, andy Luse and Joël Thibert. The examples mentioned offer you some real food for thoughts and let you think of possibilities in the Textile Machinery area, as well as in textile relevant applications. In addition you can download two other items of interest and around the same topic.

The second feature is an infograph as illustration of “Can Consumer Brands regain Control over Their Marketing Performance?” prepared by Bain Company and by guest authors Eileen Shy, Blake Cuthbert, and Ken Fraser.

Item number 3 is written by two partners of Bain Company and published in the Harvard Business Review July/August 2021, entitled “Change management – How Good Is Your Company at Change?”

Even the items are not connected directly with textiles and textile machinery, we are sure that their content is quite apt for management people in companies such as yours!

Here starts the first feature:

Beyond gadgetry: Changing the game in maintenance

By Phil Long, Andy Luse, and Joël Thibert. Phil Long is a manager of client capabilities in McKinsey’s Miami office, Andy Luse is an associate partner in the Philadelphia office, and Joël Thibert is an associate partner in the Santiago office.

Digital work management can transform the maintenance function’s productivity, flexibility, and predictability.

In many sectors of heavy industry, organisations continue to struggle with maintenance productivity. Digital tools, such as increasingly advanced computerised maintenance-management systems (CMMSs), promised to streamline maintenance and reliability activities. They often had the opposite effect, adding complexity and reducing accountability. Our observations indicate that most companies’ frontline workers spend less than 50 % of their time with “hands on tools.” At many, the figure is significantly lower, with levels below 30 % not uncommon.

This low productivity is almost never a result of low effort from the front line. The root cause typically springs from the complexities of bringing together the right skill sets, materials, tools, personal protective equipment (PPE), equipment access, job packages, permits, and supervision to enable effective execution.

In this challenging environment, many companies are exploring the use of additional digital tools to help them with maintenance planning, tracking, and execution. And while digital work management (DWM) systems have been available for decades, the latest solutions are significantly less expensive and easier to implement than their predecessors. A DWM implementation used to be a five- or six- month project requiring large doses of specialist support. Thanks to progress in usability, accessibility, and ease of integration with other systems, today’s DWM tools can be up and running in three to four weeks.

Above all, the value of DWM is now well-proven. The technology has helped some companies to boost maintenance-labour productivity by 15 to 30 %. At others, using DWM systems to optimize the planning and implementation of shutdowns and turnaround projects has reduced outage duration by up to one-third.

Not every DWM implementation is so successful, however. Making the approach work means understanding the specific areas of the maintenance lifecycle where these technologies can add value (see sidebar, “Finding the value in smarter maintenance processes”). And, as with any advanced digital tool, lasting impact is usually possible only when organisations think beyond the core technology and make changes to processes, mind-sets, and wider management systems.

Finding the value in smarter maintenance processes

A digital work-management system is designed to reduce the losses inherent in in many maintenance systems. In a typical chemicals company, for example, maintenance technicians spend less than 30 % of their time actually fixing equipment. The rest is non-value-adding activity: looking for parts and tools, waiting for equipment to become available, or documenting completed work.

A DWM system can only eliminate this lost value, however, if the implementation team understands and addresses the specific sources of loss within their process. In our experience, these opportunities for improvement typically occur at six key points in the maintenance execution cycle.

  • Microplanning. Maintenance jobs are traditionally planned in large chunks, with little sense of the actual work required to complete the necessary tasks. A DWM system enables planning on a much more granular level, making it easier to disaggregate tasks and record actual job durations. That in turn makes it possible to get more work done with the same resources.
  • Material preparation. DWM solutions make it possible to quickly check which parts are actually available, where spares or rotables are held inside or outside the plant, when the last changeout of a particular component happened, and how the long the component lasted. This transparency obviates the need for mechanics and electricians to spend time looking for parts or specialized tools.
  • Skill matching and individual performance tracking. Some DWM systems allow schedulers to track the skills and experience levels of maintenance personnel. Managers can then allocate the right person to each task, maximizing productivity while reducing quality issues and rework. Another common feature is the tracking of individual performance, which allows supervisors to focus coaching where it is most needed.
  • Remote troubleshooting. A number of DWM systems enable greater real-time connectivity among maintainers, their colleagues, and specialized technicians, who can provide general guidance or specific instructions remotely.
  • Dynamic scheduling. Today’s DWM systems allow frontline teams to record their activities in real time using a mobile device. That saves admin effort while also making it easier to see who is working on which projects at any given time. Managers can reassign jobs almost seamlessly when urgent break-in work occurs or when new work needs arise during maintenance shutdowns.
  • Data capture. DWM systems make it easier to capture data in the field, allowing technicians to use photo, video, or sound media to better document the equipment’s condition and the reasons a job might be delayed. More-complete data capture in the field then translates into better planning and root-cause problem-solving.

Not every DWM implementation is so successful, however. Making the approach work means understanding the specific areas of the maintenance lifecycle where these technologies can add value (see sidebar, “Finding the value in smarter maintenance processes”). And, as with any advanced digital tool, lasting impact is usually possible only when organizations think beyond the core technology and make changes to processes, mind-sets, and wider management systems.

The most successful DWM implementations generally get three things right. First, they redesign their processes to eliminate areas of value loss and take advantage of the system’s capabilities. Second, they take a broad view of value, focusing on benefits for both the overall business and the end users within the maintenance function. Third, they integrate their new systems with the organization’s wider digital infrastructure.

Optimise processes first

Once an organisation understands where digital work management can add value, the first task is to ensure processes are set up to capture that value. This process-optimization step is essential to prevent non-value-adding activities becoming embedded into the new system, and to ensure that maintenance planners and supervisors are able to make full use of its capabilities.

One mining company, for example, planned to introduce a DWM system to manage a major maintenance turnaround. Initially, the company set up an agile team to design a new way of working for preparation, execution, and analysis of the shutdown. The team then worked with the technology provider to ensure the DWM system could help it meet four critical objectives.

  • The system collected input from contractors on all the tasks defined during the planning phase of the turnaround.
  • The team used that data to test a series of scenarios, helping them understand how different approaches would affect the project timeline and resource requirements.
  • During project execution, the team monitored progress in real time using data collected in the field and used those insights to intervene quickly as delays arose.
  • At the end of the project, the team analyzed areas where reality deviated significantly from the plan, identified the root causes of the deviations, and launched a series of initiatives to address those issues.

Over several turnarounds, this work helped the company to improve schedule compliance to 95 %, from a baseline of 70 %, reducing the overall duration of the shutdown by 25 %. “This new, tech-enabled way of working has been a definite game-changer for us,” said the maintenance area supervisor in charge of the project. “We are more effective, more efficient, and people are more engaged. I wish I’d come across this years ago.”

Take a holistic view of value creation

As they redesign their maintenance processes for DWM, companies can take a holistic perspective on the value they want to derive from the system. That means taking both a business-centric and a user-centric approach: the former to ensure the DWM investment pays off, the latter to encourage user acceptance and maximize the value generated. In practice, this holistic approach to value is achieved by including a full range of business stakeholders during the design and implementation of the new system. By understanding the different pain points experienced by frontline personnel, maintenance planners, and plant managers, implementation teams can better design the new, digitally enabled processes to address longstanding problems.

At one chemicals company, for example, the sponsor of the DWM project was himself an end-user of the system. During the initial data-gathering phase of the project, he sought inputs from a large number of maintenance technicians, planners, and supervisors. That effort revealed one overriding concern across the function: the large backlog of tasks that reduced the reliability of the plant.

With this information, the team in charge of the DWM system was able to focus its initial implementation on backlog-management issues. In a handful of months, the new system helped cut the maintenance backlog from 32 weeks to around eight, resulting in a one-quarter decrease in unplanned downtime. “If this had been imposed by the corporate centre, I don’t think it would have worked,” said the project sponsor. “I knew what the people were going through and so could relay their concerns to our technology partner. Now that it’s been two years, I can’t even imagine going back to the way we used to work.”

Build an integrated digital ecosystem

The final consideration for a successful DWM implementation is effective integration with the wider IT ecosystem for operations and maintenance. Data on maintenance tasks captured in the DWM system, for example, can be linked to the organisation’s enterprise-resource-planning (ERP) or computerized maintenance-management system (CMMS). A comprehensive record of asset performance and maintenance history is then available to support reliability and performance improvement initiatives. Likewise, overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) tracking or condition-monitoring systems can be set to trigger a work order automatically in the DWM when specific downtime codes are entered or conditions are detected.

DWM can generate significant value for asset-intensive industries, but this value can only be captured if the implementation is targeted (focusing on critical junctures of the process) holistic (focusing simultaneously on underlying processes, end users, and value-creation levers), and integrated (adding value to and deriving value from existing solutions and systems). The next article in this series will look at the other major use case for advanced digital technologies in maintenance—predictive maintenance—and show how successful implementation calls for a similar logic.

More information on the subject can be downloaded here

And how Technicians as Salesforce is concerned here 

Here starts the Infographic:

Can Consumer Brands regain Control over Their Marketing Performance? (Infographic)

As media channels grow more complex, companies can open a view into the data as a first step to owning their marketing destiny.

By guest authors Eileen Shy, Blake Cuthbert, and Ken Fraser 

Here begins the article published in the Harvard Business Review:

Change management – How Good Is Your Company at Change?

A new system for measuring (and improving) your ability to adapt by guest authors David Michels and Kevin Murphy, partners at Bain Company and published in the Harvard Business Review (July-August 2021). David Michels is a partner in Bain & Company’s Tokyo office and leads its global change management and implementation practice. Kevin Murphy is a partner in Bain’s Washington, DC, office and leads Bain’s co-creation centre of excellence.


As they deal with a business landscape that is evolving constantly, rapidly, and unpredictably, executives all over the world are full of questions about change: How much? How fast? How sustainable? And sometimes just How? They can’t hope to answer those questions unless they understand their They can’t hope to answer those questions unless they understand their companies’ capacity for change—but they’ve lacked good tools for measuring that.

Most organisations have a change power profile that corresponds to one of four archetypes. Using company examples, the authors suggest a specific approach to improvement for each one.companies’ capacity for change—but they’ve.

To address this problem, Michels and Murphy, partners at Bain, devised a way of systematically measuring what they call change power. In this article they explain how they devised their system, describe the nine main factors that they believe determine a company’s change power, and present data suggesting that companies that rank high on their change power index tend to perform remarkably well financially and have more-satisfied employees.

It was a month like no other that Delta Air Lines had ever experienced: March 2020. Travel bans and rising coronavirus fears sent bookings into negative territory—more customers were canceling upcoming trips than booking new ones—and at the nadir the airline cut 85% of its flights. Not even the terrorist attacks of 9/11 had precipitated such a sharp drop in business, and the decline was accelerating each day.

Unprecedented change required a serious response. A week after the United States locked down, Delta began calling big corporate clients and surveying leisure travelers. What can we do, the company asked, to make you more comfortable with air travel? Customers consistently said they just didn’t feel at ease being seated next to strangers, even with mask requirements, improved air-circulation technology, and heightened cleaning.

Though it would be costly, the best response, Delta executives decided, would be to block the sale of middle seats. In the first week of April 2020, when Delta’s CEO, Ed Bastian, made the decision, planes weren’t filling up anyway, so the immediate impact was muted, but Bastian and his team were playing the long game. According to Paul Baldoni, Delta’s vice president of Americas pricing and revenue management, the goal was to help customers relax about traveling—in that difficult moment and over the long term. Indeed, Delta kept its block in place for 12 months, until May 1, 2021, by which time, management argued, vaccines and a decline in overall cases had customers feeling much more secure about flying in full cabins again.

Delta made the decision to block the sale of middle seats relatively quickly. But implementing it wasn’t easy. As a legacy airline, the product of multiple mergers over the years, Delta has many different technology systems. Instituting a change of this magnitude across all those systems, executives knew, would be complicated. They drew up a list of 25 to 30 things they would need to do to succeed, from adjustments to the digital site to internal and external communications about the new policy. As they worked through their to-dos, and as more levels of the organization became involved, that list grew to hundreds of items.

To help ensure that no one was placed in a blocked seat, for example, the company laminated cards detailing the new policy and distributed them to gate agents and flight attendants—a simple fix, but it worked. Over time, though, Delta shifted from emergency fixes to systemic changes. “We start with the quick solution,” Baldoni says, describing its approach, “and then look at how we can make it more efficient.” Soon the company was building new rules into all its technology systems, which allowed it to automatically determine passenger limits by plane model. Many of Delta’s competitors eventually followed suit, though often with less clear-cut policies, and most dropped the restrictions within a few months.

Delta’s quick response to the pandemic illustrates how a large-scale, complex organization can lean into its strengths and effect major change in rather short order. In the fourth quarter of 2020 removing the middle seat left the airline with 9 % fewer seats to sell than its competitors had, but even so, Delta’s revenue was 12 % higher than the average of American, United, and Southwest combined—a difference management sees as an indication that its customers were willing to pay for the extra space. Delta’s overall Net Promoter Score also skyrocketed to an all-time high, demonstrating that its long-term focus paid dividends.

The lesson: A company’s capacity for change matters. A lot

We talk to executives all the time, all over the world, and no matter how we start out, we always end up discussing change. These executives are seasoned professionals—experts in their fields, with a deep understanding of their companies and their markets, and usually very well schooled in the art of management. But the current business landscape is evolving so rapidly and unpredictably that they are full of questions about change. How much? they want to know. How fast? How sustainable? And sometimes just How?

In our experience companies can’t hope to answer these questions unless they understand their own capacity for change. Traditionally that has been hard to determine, because they’ve lacked effective tools for measuring it. To paraphrase the old adage: If you can’t measure it, it sure is hard to address.

Two years ago, in response to the rising chorus of questions, we began devising a system to help companies measure their capacity for change—their change power, as we call it. Some people were sceptical. The idea seemed impractical, even quixotic. How can you possibly measure something as amorphous and intangible as the capacity for change? But the more we thought about it, the more we felt that question demanded an answer. After all, we have metrics for many things in business today that once seemed impossible to measure. Just a few decades ago companies had no good measure of customer loyalty. Then, in this magazine, our Bain colleague Frederick Reichheld introduced the Net Promoter System. Today NPS is so widely accepted as a barometer of success that many companies report it to their investors. That example inspired us to develop a roughly analogous system for measuring change power.

We had been studying corporate change efforts for more than a decade, tracking which programs worked and which didn’t. From that research we identified nine common traits and abilities that make companies excel at change: purpose, direction, and connection (necessary for leading change); capacity, choreography, and scaling (necessary for accelerating change); and development, action, and flexibility (necessary for organizing change). Delta Air Lines has strengths in each of the three groups, which helps explain why it responded so well when the pandemic hit, relative to its competitors. The company is particularly strong in purpose, connection, and action.

The Elements of Change Power

Nine traits and abilities help companies excel at change. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses in these categories allows you to determine your capacity for change and or create a blueprint for increasing it over time.

To determine the change profile of an organization, employees are asked to score it on statements related to each of the nine traits. The scores are combined to get an overall change power number, which provides a ranking relative to competitors and other companies on our change power index.

In developing our system we conducted a survey of close to 2000 employees from 37 large global organizations representing a variety of industries. What we found is that a company’s change power is a strong predictor of its performance. Companies that appear in the top quartile of the index are more profitable, with margins twice those of companies in the bottom quartile. Companies in the top half grow revenue up to three times as fast as do companies in the same industry that rank in the bottom half. Each move into a higher decile on the index (from, say, the 50th to the 60th percentile) correlates with a margin improvement of 150 basis points and an increase in total shareholder return of more than 250 basis points. In addition, companies that appear in the top quartile of the index tend to have leaders and cultures that rate significantly higher in the eyes of their employees than those in the bottom quartile, and they have employees who feel more inspired and engaged. These findings on leadership, culture, inspiration, and engagement were consistent with Glassdoor rankings for the same companies.

What we learned in our research convinced us that change power is a valuable metric for companies to focus on. By working to understand their capacity for change, they can identify their strengths and weaknesses, take stock of how they compare with their competitors, and use that knowledge to develop focused plans for getting better at change.

Four Common Archetypes

Every company will have its own balance of factors that affect change power. But we’ve found that most fit a pattern corresponding to one of four common archetypes: In search of focus, stuck and skeptical, aligned but constrained, and struggling to keep up. Each archetype has its own symptoms and remedies.

In search of focus

This archetype describes 37 % of the companies we reviewed. Their strength is their energy. They’re beehives of activity and have had many successes. They’re constantly innovating, and their people have the capacity to take on a lot. But, like young children playing soccer, everyone in these companies seems to be chasing the ball. Statistically, this group shows weakness in the traits of purpose, direction, and connection.

To address this, leaders should focus on the big picture, connecting company activities to purpose and strategy. Defining a multiyear ambition—and then telling and retelling the story of how you and your company will make that ambition a reality—is important to a sense of common purpose. It can also be helpful to identify top initiatives and assign them to agile teams that connect various disciplines, functions, and parts of the organization. But you must prioritize ruthlessly: To stay focused on the best initiatives, you’ll have to say no to some good ones.

Some people were sceptical. How can you possibly measure something as amorphous and intangible as the capacity for change?

Delta has harnessed its proclivity for action by focusing on purpose and connection during this time of change. The company has accelerated a number of its airport-renovation projects despite the drop in air travel, and it is now 18 months ahead of schedule on one of the biggest: a USD 1.9 billion project to connect and refurbish two terminals at LAX in Los Angeles. Speeding up construction meant closing an entire terminal, so Delta management worked with frontline employees to understand what the implications would be, from mapping new shuttle bus routes to adjusting staffing. Executives consistently made the case with employees for the value of new technology and the better door-to-door customer experience the upgrades would enable. To build connection and ensure that its workforce felt part of the process, Delta (which, unlike many other airlines, manages its own construction projects) invited all employees, from gate agents to pilots, to come out and sign the beam that would be placed over the new terminal entrance before it was hoisted into place. “It’s making everybody a participant in the process,” says Mark Pearson, Delta’s vice president for corporate real estate. “Change is hard. People don’t like change in general. The more you can get people excited about better service, the community, a better airport, the better.”

Stuck and sceptical

Of the companies we reviewed, 20 % fit this archetype. They have good ideas and a history of success, but too much of their change gets stuck at the local level. They tend to underestimate the full scope of what they have taken on. They are commonly weak in connection, scaling, and action. Innovations seem to stall and don’t spread across the organisation. That makes people impatient: How can all our hard work have so little impact? The elusiveness of success comes to feel almost unfair. Scepticism, even hopelessness, grows.

No single leader can lift a whole company out of this state. Success will come only from reigniting the enthusiasm of your teammates, which starts with convincing them that they can in fact succeed. One way to do that, and to build energy fast, is to quickly put some wins on the board.

A few years ago, the CEO of one of the world’s largest transportation and logistics companies found himself in exactly this situation. After a year of hard work on a strategic transformation designed to ease competition with digitally native rivals, he noticed that the pace of change seemed to be slowing. This was frustrating. There was still so much to do. His team struggled to convey the urgency of the challenge. Operating in a highly competitive, increasingly commoditized industry, the front line was focused on day-to-day execution and thus easily distracted from the broader strategic challenges.

After some debate over the best approach, the company’s leaders tried something they had never done before. They invited 40 influential and respected executives from across the company to meet at the European headquarters. Their task was to create a shared story of the company’s future—its common purpose. Together they would articulate why they had to change and what was needed to get there.

Two days later they had come up with a narrative that they all owned. It did more than set targets and make logical arguments. It had emotional goals: to create a sense of belonging and purpose at all levels, to tap into the staff’s love of the industry, and to cultivate a culture of caring, humility, and honor. The 40 leaders returned to their respective markets around the world inspired, aligned, and connected. They were able to catalyze the next phase of transformation for the company, including an energetic new focus on data analytics and artificial intelligence, which they are now using to improve capacity utilization, cut energy usage, and better predict and plan for required maintenance.

Aligned but constrained

This archetype applies to 24 % of our companies, which share important strengths: Their employees work well as a unit, have locked arms, and are headed in the same direction. Early success heightened their expectations, and now they find themselves pushing against hard constraints. These companies often don’t have the people they need to fill key roles in managing greater amounts of change and its accumulating disruption. Picture running a race in the mud. Each step requires more energy than the one before, which saps optimism. Teams that fall into this category struggle with connection, capacity, and development.

To counter these problems, companies need to identify and address their capacity bottlenecks. They may have to reorder their priorities and add resources where most needed. That involves closing key capability gaps across the organization by bringing in new talent and helping existing talent develop new skills.

Talent development has played an important role at Worley, a global company that provides professional project and asset services to the energy, chemicals, and resources sectors. During the past six years the company has met a series of difficult challenges and established a record of effectively managing change. The first challenge came when a glut of oil overwhelmed a slow-moving economy, causing prices to plunge by 70 % from mid-2014 to early 2016. With many of Worley’s customers and much of its revenue vulnerable to changes in the price of oil, the downturn forced a significant restructuring.

According to Worley’s CEO, Chris Ashton, the stark circumstances demanded that the company create a transformation team staffed by its best people—those with the ability to learn quickly on the job and engage the broader organization. Many of these people were emerging leaders, and the operations they worked for often had a difficult time letting them go. But given the circumstances, they had little choice. The new team built a turnaround strategy that helped Worley survive the shock. And for the leaders who took part, it was a big development opportunity, says Francis McNiff, the company’s executive group director of transition and change, who estimates that the time they spent on the transformation team probably accelerated their careers by several years. When they returned to the business lines, these leaders were armed with a new network of connections from across the organization and quickly became effective local evangelists for the company’s strategy.

Worley followed a similar blueprint in 2019, when it merged with the energy, chemicals, and resources division of Jacobs Engineering Group: It assembled a team that was able to ensure a successful integration of the businesses. Then, in 2020, came the “double black swan” of Covid-19 and another oil-market crash. “We had to get right back on the horse,” says Mihaela Carpo, a member of the new transformation team. Job one for the team: almost immediately equipping 45,000 people to work from home. Carpo, now the director of Worley’s Group Project Management Office and Innovation, gained confidence in earlier transformation projects. “If this had happened a few years ago,” she says, “I’m not sure if we would have been able to mobilize everybody as quickly or know what to do or what levers to pull. The last few years prepared us for this.”

Worley recently tapped more than 1000 people, from support staff to PhDs and senior executives, for 70 structured workshops held around the world and designed to help develop and codify a shared purpose and values for the company. At them, groups of 20 to 25 people spent three to four hours exploring questions about what got them out of bed in the morning, what they saw as the company’s greatest business opportunities, what behaviours they believed were key to success, and what they understood Worley’s key strengths to be. Karen Sobel, the group president of Worley’s business in the Americas, took part in a number of workshops. She recalls that at a large fabrication facility in Norway, teams working in a mix of Norwegian and English really put their hearts into it. “It allowed the people in our organization to tell their story and share their perspective on the direction they thought the company should take,” she says.

The workshops produced a huge amount of data that the team distilled into a core purpose—“Delivering a more sustainable world”—and four company values. According to Ashton, everybody from “graduates to grandparents” agreed that this was the right focus, and the process gave employees a valuable feeling of connection. That sense of purpose, he says, became “a powerful force for change.”

Struggling to keep up

Among the companies we reviewed, 19 % fit this archetype. They’re like teams of cyclists in the Tour de France, battling a gruelling race of many stages. Each day the riders must adjust to changing terrain, unpredictable weather, and the strategies of their competitors. They must plan how they’ll work as a team, supporting and even sacrificing for one another. They’re great athletes whose single-minded focus and action orientation have delivered results. As the race wears on, fatigue sets in, and adaptability becomes increasingly important. But these companies struggle to cope because they’re weak in choreography, scaling, and flexibility. Their single-minded focus, once a virtue, begins to morph into a vice.

Companies in this category need to get better at anticipating what’s around the corner and changing their plans accordingly. To catalyse this shift, they must first take stock. Is their strategic direction still the right one? If not, they need to reprioritize and reallocate resources to be ready for the next leg of the race.

Seven years ago, Assurant began just such a transformation. In 2014 it was an insurance holding company, a conglomeration of independent businesses acquired over several decades by its former Dutch parent. Each division had its own chief executive and its own leaders of finance, IT, HR, marketing, distribution, and operations. The business units were so distinct that in 2015, when its recently appointed CEO, Alan Colberg, travelled to Atlanta to meet with senior leaders from three of the company’s businesses, he discovered that those executives had never been together in one room, even though they worked in the same office building.

Among the companies we reviewed, 19 % are like teams of cyclists in the Tour de France, battling a gruelling race of many stages

Not long after that, it became clear that Assurant’s health insurance business—the oldest in the company’s portfolio but recently upended by market changes created by the Affordable Care Act—no longer had a sustainable business model. Colberg and the board seized the opportunity to make dramatic changes. Since then Assurant has exited three of four business segments, made a number of significant acquisitions, and centralized many functions. “It’s been perpetual change,” says Keith Demmings, a 24-year veteran of the company who will succeed Colberg at the end of 2021.

Constant change has led to a lot of questions at Assurant, so management has put a strong focus on communicating its strategy to employees and making the case that as the business evolves, they personally can have a bright future at the company. Today half of every meeting with employees is devoted to Q&A, and executives are always on the lookout for signs of change overload. “I step back every once in a while,” says Francesca Luthi, Assurant’s chief administrative officer, “and ask myself, Can we still absorb all this? Because it has been fast and furious. There are opportunities for growth, to stretch yourself, but is this just too much? Are we going to break?” Since Colberg became CEO and began to shift its operating model, Assurant’s annual shareholder return has risen to 14.6%, up from 10.1% in the decade prior.

According to Luthi, Assurant in recent years has developed new “muscle” and “elasticity” and as a result is better equipped than ever to handle change. The company is more open now to trying new things—and to learning from failure. It has trained 1,000 employees in agile principles of IT management and has introduced a new focus on customers, innovation, testing, and learning.

Steps to Take Now

We live in unprecedented times, and our challenge as leaders is to build businesses that will thrive in a world of unpredictable and accelerating change. So, what can you do to boost your change power?

1. Get the facts

Too many companies and executives are wandering in the dark, speculating about what might or might not be. Dig in, determine your change power baseline, and understand where you are relative to your competitors. Identify specifically what you can and must improve. Small moves now are better than big ones later—test, learn, and iterate, as Delta did when implementing its middle-seat block. 2. Disrupt how you work.

Approach your current and upcoming changes by thinking not in terms of distinct projects but, rather, in terms of an organizational shift—just as Assurant did when it transformed itself from a disjointed group of independent operators into an organization focused on evolving toward a shared future. Consider these changes a balance-sheet issue and invest actively to build the strength necessary for sustained success.

2. Disrupt how you work

Approach your current and upcoming changes by thinking not in terms of distinct projects but, rather, in terms of an organizational shift—just as Assurant did when it transformed itself from a disjointed group of independent operators into an organization focused on evolving toward a shared future. Consider these changes a balance-sheet issue and invest actively to build the strength necessary for sustained success.

3. Mobilize your leaders

Transformations provide the best training ground for the next generation of leaders. If you want to disrupt old patterns, embrace a new approach, and improve critical change capabilities, you’ve got a lot to do: You’ll need to orchestrate a team effort, develop a shared ambition, and map an action plan. That’s what the logistics company’s 40 executives did at their European retreat.

More than ever before, companies need to measure, understand, and boost their capacity for change. The ideas we’ve laid out in this article can help with that. By studying and improving your change power, you can build a nimbler and more resilient organization and become a more formidable competitor in the process.

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Digital Euro: EU Commission welcomes the launch of the digital Euro project by the ECB
Immigration law enforcement in the EU – figures for 2020
Single Market: new rules to ensure safe and compliant products on the EU market
EU Commission adopts proposal for a Pact for Research and Innovation in Europe
Truetzschler welcomes you to SINCE/ANEX!
Flexo Solutions
XSYS joins forces with Nilpeter and Reproflex Scandinavia to deliver high quality flexo solutions
Getting real about mitigating price inflation
Huge Swiss demand for new funding initiatives from Innosuisse 
Joint News Release – BASF Venture Capital invests in Indian hydroponics pioneer UrbanKisaan
Report: Italy sees drop in piracy
Dissolving design boundaries – 4D-KNIT articles in a new gauge offer style, lightness and a soft touch
Over 1 in 6 young adults not in employment or education
Swiss Empa – Optics – Molecules in collective ecstasy
Swiss Lonza extends Collaboration with major Biopharmaceutical Partner for Large-Scale Monoclonal Antibody Commercial Supply
Fila and Oliver Spencer collaborate on a sustainable collection
Asos launches Nordstrom joint venture to sell Topshop clothes in US stores
Palm Report
BASF publishes fifth Palm Progress Report
The European Commission appoints a new Director in DG MARE
New, Biweekly Imaging of Things Podcast Tackles Trends, Workflow and Print Opportunities
Buzz Off, Bees. Pollination Robots Are Here
What are the plans for 2022?
Swiss Empa: Climate friendly building – Filled energy saving bar
The tech shaking up fashion’s inventory load
Sales meets Science
Social Rights
European pillar of Social Rights
Fila and Oliver Spencer collaborate on a sustainable collection
Nestlé explores emerging technologies for cultured meat
Gerber commits to carbon neutrality for US products
Third financial dialogue between Switzerland and Saudi Arabia Commercial European air transport in June 2021: preparing for take-off?
Artistic Fabric Mills adopts traceability technology in its supply chain
Venture Capital
Women in Venture Capital Group presents recommendations to increase venture capital for women-led companies