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Arif Durrani 

Does your team have a winning mindset to change?

Does your team have a winning mindset to change?

Partner contentThere is one topic currently uniting the entire C-Suite as eyes, and budgets, focus on H2 2021, says Bloomberg's Arif Durrani. How much has been changed for good, and which parts of the business will go back to pre-Covid times?

These deceptively simple questions are currently echoing throughout business functions around the world right now, and provoked some navel-gazing from industry leaders at last month’s Advertising Week Europe.

“We’re not going back to how things were,” proffered WPP’s CEO Mark Read. “Covid has accelerated everything in business… The company used to take 16 weeks to make a TV commercial, now we’ve done it in 16 days… We’re working faster, the processes are faster.”

Read, who had already set his growth strategy around “radical evolution,” went on to lift the lid on what embracing change looks like at the world’s biggest marketing group, noting the insight that 98% of footage taken on any shoot is never used.

WPP’s ad agencies are now rethinking about that 98%; “Can we store it? Can we index it using AI? Can we re-use it?”

Also at AWE, Tim Ovadia, global vice president of Stella Artois, recognised the need for “strategic agility” – noting that the pandemic has underlined the importance in having a flexible blueprint: “Our North Star is the same but how we get there has adapted,” he said. “In an environment of change you have to be able to change and learn.”

It’s clear even global organisations can no longer dictate trends. Leaders must try to anticipate them, adapt to meet the needs that result from them, and reflect on their own place in this ever-changing landscape.

The sentiments of both Read and Ovadia resonate with a global study Bloomberg Media has conducted with Maersk, called Transforming While Performing.

Launched this week, Transforming While Performing identifies what we’ve termed “winning mindsets” that lie at the heart of successful companies.

The international study found significant differences in how individuals approach business challenges at companies, which have experienced a compound annual growth rate of more than 5% over the past five years, with a notable shift from problem-solving to opportunity-seeking.

Conducted by research agency Sparkler (part of PA Consulting Group), Transforming While Performing captures views of more than 400 senior executives in large companies (500+ employees) across Europe, North America and Asia.

Phil Robinson, EMEA head of data science and insights at Bloomberg Media, says: “This is a timely study about the importance of embracing change, coming as it does during a period of dramatic recovery and ongoing iteration. From our extensive literature review spanning 50 years of transformational models, to interviews with senior business directors navigating new revenue streams, we’ve uncovered five guiding principles of successful organisational change that should make interesting reading for anyone in business.”

The five key principles in leaders more likely to be working at companies outperforming the market.   

1. Detox the word 'change'

Successful leaders and businesses understand the need to detox the word 'change'.

Change is no longer something that is only decided in a boardroom and then delivered through the ranks. Change is constant, fluid and unpredictable. It requires organisational alignment, strong, positive leadership and individual empowerment.

Change as a positive constant is a vision that should be embedded throughout an organisation, clearly articulated and utilised to motivate the workforce to adopt winning mindsets and help achieve company targets.

2. Demand vitality

Business transformation should not be viewed as a destination, but a journey. Along the way, leaders with a Winning Mindset are able to monitor and respond to change, while embracing risks and a “fail fast” attitude. The mindset for successful change also accepts that every new idea carries potential risk.

Planning, modelling and forecasting all have very valid places within the organisational structure, but rather than looking at five-year projects, the business should be reassessed and readjusted constantly.

3. Devolve to empower

For successful change to be successfully implemented, employees must be empowered with responsibility and trust.

Leadership and senior management must be closely aligned with a shared vision for the organisation. This vision should be formalised in a strategy and accompanied by actionable plans that provide clear guidance for employees at all levels.

Within this strong framework, trust is essential. With the right training, strong and positive leadership, and the freedom to make decisions, people are empowered to act fast without fearing consequences.

An employee who feels constantly watched will likely deliver exactly what is expected of them—nothing more. They’ll tick boxes and meet outcomes, but fixed performance parameters do not allow for agility.

Organisations must strike a balance between achieving central goals and localised implementation of change led by individuals with winning mindsets.

4. Clarity and insight

Every organisation needs a solid foundation. Knowing a business’s legacy and where it comes from is crucial to successful change. Whether an organisation was built on solid values that still apply today, or outdated and even outlawed practices, we must understand the old to embrace the new.

A strong leadership team with a winning mindset should be aware of the legacy of the business and evaluate it against the ongoing social and political landscape, both within and outside of its business sector.

Leaders need to listen to the people within their organisations and accept their experiences to be true. They cannot assume that events they haven’t lived through are not real, neither should they expect those who have lived these negative experiences to provide all the answers. Organisations must seek clarity, and be prepared to act on insights in a positive and structured way.

5. Recruit and develop for a new skill-set

To succeed, a company’s new recruits need to thrive on change and leaders need to feel comfortable feeling uncomfortable. Every good leader needs a well-established set of core skills with their workforce, but to drive transformational change requires agility, humility and the ability to influence.

Those who are most motivated to drive change will recognise the benefits of change beyond the immediate business goals or the effort involved in the upheaval; for leaders with a winning mindset, change is not a burden. They thrive in an environment of uncertainty, challenging assumptions and pushing bold agendas.

Leaders who successfully drive transformational change encourage and develop others to do the same. They recruit people who thrive on change, but at the same time help their existing employees develop the skills they need to adapt.

Maersk, an industry leader for 117 years, has been on a five-year transformational journey that has seen it evolve from a shipping company to a fully integrated logistics business.

Robinson notes: “We all know them as the shipping giant, but by focusing on providing full end-to-end solutions, Maersk now combines its unrivalled physical assets with people expertise, data management and full digitisation. The result is a roster of customers with whom the conversation has moved on from being about risk to one about exploring new opportunities.”

Whether you’re a client-side marketer, at an agency or working at a media owner, our research, produced by Bloomberg Media Studios, suggests the more aligned organisations can be to these five principles of change, the more capable they will be to navigate tomorrow’s business challenges.

Download the report Transforming While Performing here

Arif Durrani is Executive Editor at Bloomberg Media Studios, EMEA@DurraniMix

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