3 Challenges to the OPEX community in ‘the new normal’

Last week the OPEX Europe Summit 2020 was held virtually for the first time ever. Despite being originally planned to be hosted in Amsterdam, the organizers IQPC successfully delivered engaging presentations from great brands and companies virtually. Nintex also made an appearance at the event, with a virtual booth showcasing the latest in the Nintex Process Platform.

During the presentations, OPEX leaders from around Europe, including Burberry, Costa Coffee, Nationwide Insurance, Cisco, and Siemens Energy, joined forces to focus on the impact to the OPEX community during the current pandemic. They discussed the role OPEX has to play at this stressful time and how their businesses are looking to them to deliver world-class performance.

In this new ‘business unusual’ environment, the role of the OPEX leader has become vital as we face challenges like moving to a 100% remote workforce in a matter of weeks.

Burberry managed to set themselves up for early success, as their employees went to a work from home setup before the pandemic hit Europe. This gave them more time to set up and give guidance to their staff that they will be working from home until December, regardless of what happens. Unfortunately. Not all organizations have been that forward-thinking, and have faced challenges.

Accelerated continuous improvement

Traditional approaches to continuous improvements typically build on what’s currently there and tend to evolve. This differs from the approach of disrupting the culture and changing quickly.

While the latter may have short term benefits, it is not sustainable for longevity.

In a pre-COVID world, according to Emily Viarmaud, Operational Excellence Manager at Costa Coffee, the “slow change and explain as you go” approach provides the best results. But now, in today’s environment, people are more willing to adapt and embrace a “change now” culture based on necessity.

Organizations have needed to align on a single collaboration and communication platform like Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Zoom. And whilst not everybody likes their video on, using online conferencing facilities has quickly become business as usual.

That’s not to say the ‘change now’ culture works everywhere and that every process is a candidate for change. To have any chance of success you need to educate and bring along your key asset for the ride – your people.

The language of change

All OPEX leaders explained that they all had the same experience when it came to the language of change. They emphasized how it isn’t related to buzz words and TLA’s – it’s about how you communicate change to your teams.

It’s important to understand your audience, how much detail they need, and what sort of information is relevant to them. For example, Viarmaud spoke about when Costa Coffee began rolling out a change management project, they found that the communication needs between leadership and the workforce differed.

They found that for leadership, they needed to convey that “this is what we need to do and this is the impact on the business.” Whereas for the workforce, they relayed that “this is what we need to do and this is the support you will be provided.”

Giving the workforce a sense of support and leadership buy-in is crucial for success.

Georgina Turton, Head of Continuous Improvement & Process Automation at Burberry, highlighted that the choice of language was vitally important. They found that chatter about productivity increase and cost-cutting immediately puts people into job protection mode, whereas conversations around value creation and benefits to the organization demonstrate the end result to which people can aspire.

Find your friends in the OPEX community

Continuous improvement must be seen as part of any organization’s culture. Further, it should not be seen as something solely coming from the Change Management team. Buy-in from all involved parties is crucial to success.

A common theme running through multiple sessions was to find your advocates and nurture them. Getting a positive voice from outside the change organization can be a powerful tactic, whether it’s from leadership or a different team, you should ensure they have the latest information to help spread awareness.

Advocates will spread the word beyond your individual capability to teams far and wide, and remember if you don’t have the people with you on the journey, you’re not going to get anywhere.

Five pieces of advice to Change Advocates from OPEX Europe

  1. Nurture advocacy: Find your followers – you can’t do this alone
  2. Know your audience: Speak their language and align the messaging appropriately
  3. Engage leadership: Make sure they talk the talk and engage with the teams
  4. Maintain focus: Projects fail when focus wavers and people become disinterested
  5. Celebrate success: Changing how we work for the better is something to be proud of

Looking towards the future, organizations are going to be reliant on OPEX leaders to carry them through periods of disruption to come out stronger on the other side. For those actively involved in or accelerating their digital transformation, it will be a busy period, as now is the time to make necessary changes.

At Nintex, we’ve already helped hundreds of customers change how they work during the pandemic using process automation. Watch our Case Study video with the Zoom to see how Nintex helped speed up the account provisioning process when the “Zoom boom” began at the start of the pandemic.

 

 

Interested in learning more? Contact us for a tailored demonstration where we show how the Nintex Platform can help your organization as it does for many others across the world.

 

 

Karl White

Karl White is the Field Marketing Director for EMEA at Nintex. He has over 20-years experience in the marketing industry, both marketing agency and client side. He’s built marketing solutions for companies like Dell Computers and General Motors, and spent 4 years at Microsoft where he implemented Skype’s marketing platforms and operations teams. Now based in Nintex’s London office, he is responsible for marketing within the EMEA region.

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