My purpose of writing this article is to take a look at a well know company and see how they with Change Management. I choose Target Corporation for a couple of reasons. First of all they are very visible and recognizable. Most people know who Target is and have visited their stores. Second I know the organizational structure and business philosophies that lead to the way they deal with change.
I must point out that I have no affiliation with Target but have worked with the company in the past. From those experiences as well as my experiences as a customer and business observer I have come to know how Target performs as compared to other similar businesses and why. Target is not a perfect business but deserves to be recognized for the things they do well. I just call it the way I see it. I have no incentive to give credit where credit is not due.
Businesses succeed or fail for a reason. No matter what a business is selling, if there is a market for what they are selling and they stay true to their business philosophies they have a good chance over the long haul. The challenge, though is in getting started. I can’t be sure of the number but I’ll bet for every successful business there are 100 that fail but had just as good of an idea.
I would like to focus in on the issue of change management and how this company deals with fast pace of change in the retail world. The product sales environment is the most visible and most obvious way for a retailer to keep up. By offering the latest technologies and cutting edge products is only the beginning of the change response. All retailers have procurement and buying strategies to give them the right products to sell.
Target takes sales and merchandising to the next level with their design philosophies. They not only sell good design but they also actively participate in the design of the products they sell. This is not new and becoming a common practice with large retailers. Target is just a bit better at it. They take a more active role in the design than most retailers. After all, this is their niche. Target’s design philosophy and creative environment permeates through the company into all aspects from product procurement, property development to financial services. It is a fast, fun and friendly company.
Property Development and how they deal with change management is what I’d like to use as an example here. Retail product and design change moves much faster than property development, building design and construction can move. This poses a problem. By the time the you are about to build a space to support a retail trend, the trend has passed. This is why retail businesses must plan for constant change. They must build stores that allow for flexible use and change. The difficulty here is that you have to have a plan to get things done and keep moving. You have to land on a direction and move ahead knowing that your direction may change.
In the building design and construction world change costs money. Depending on the timing of change it can cost a whole lot of money. Just in the construction phase, change orders cost upwards to 150% of the original cost. This is not to mention the cost of redesign for the architects and design professionals.
It is a bit of a catch 22. You might think you should settle on a design and build it. This would save you a lot of money. Or would it? Actually it could cost you more money because you would be rebuilding in a shorter cycle because the space would be outdated by the time it was constructed. I’m sure there are parallels in just about every business.
The solution is a change management process that accounts for the dynamics of change specific to the business. This has been oversimplified for brevity but basically to be successful in managing change you must plan for change, have a comprehensive change process and a well developed method of integration.
Planning for Change:
An effective CM system requires a plan that includes diligent identification of change potential a structured CP(Change Process) and a proficient uses of technology. Knowing what lies ahead for your business is the key. The ability to anticipate the next trend is a definite advantage. And if your business can be the trend setter or can drive change this makes planning a whole lot easier.
Target does fall in the latter category for a certain extent. They are on the leading edge for design at lease for discount store design. They have figured out what level of design can reach the masses. In any event they have been pretty good at staying out front and dictating sales trends for mass production. This prepares them, to some extent, to deal with change in the store construction.
Once you feel you can anticipate what lies ahead putting together a process to deal with it becomes possible, albeit not necessarily easy. A change process involves a lot of people and must be responsive to process factors of all roles.
As far as property development goes, Target does have a mechanism to deal with physical change that results from changes in business strategy. This is pretty evident when you look around the stores. They still look good comparatively.
In general, areas with a high potential for change are areas that are impacted the greatest by changes in technology, changes in business objective, retail sales, industry competition etc.
Efficient integration is a key factor in the success of a CP. Integration is expedited by effective communication. For property development, BIM (Building Information Modeling) technology enables rapid development and communication of change initiatives.
Integration is where you want to maximize the potential of technology to assist change implementation. BIM does that.
Integration is really about how does the change process meet its objective.
Effective documentation and tracking of a CM directives can be a critical part of a successful CP and can have a big impact on the cost of change.
Documentation methodologies can have a big impact on how fast the system operates. In the business world, time is money as we all know.
CM is a fact of doing business. Change is constant in the current business environment and businesses must develop an action plan to deal with change to be competitive.
Target Corporation has long been a great company with model business practices. It has a creative business environment, top flight marketing and hits the right niche in this time of abundance and design sensibility. This is a business with morals and standards that resonate with family values. I would be willing to bet they make it through this downturn in the economy. Creativity is a prized asset in this ever changing business world.
Have a plan. Make a plan. It will save you time and money.