Systematic approach to change, Client & Consultant relationship

22/03/2021 0 By indiafreenotes

Systematic approach to change

The Systems Model of Change or Organization-Wide Change lays more emphasis on the fact that a change must be implemented organization-wide instead of implementing it in piecemeal.

This model provides a whole new dimension to the concept of organizational change and describes the role played by six interconnected or interdependent variables like people, task, strategy, culture, technology and design. All these 6 variables are the key focus of planned change. The model has been represented in the diagram below:

  1. People: This variable involves the individuals who work in an organization. This would take into consideration the individual differences in the form of personalities, goals, perceptions, attitudes, attributions and their needs/motives.
  2. Task: The task is related to the nature of work which an individual handles in an organization. The nature of the job may be simple or complex, repetitive or novel, unique or standardized.
  3. Design: This variable refers to the organizational structure itself and also the system of communication, authority and control, the delegation of responsibilities and accountabilities.
  4. Strategy: The organizational strategy is the road map of action for realizing the future goals both short term and long term in nature. Strategic Planning involves identification of existing resources, a careful assessment of internal strengths and weaknesses, identifying the opportunities in the environment and threats as well for a competitive advantage.
  5. Technology: It takes into consideration the advancements in the technology in the field of IT, automation, new methods and techniques for enhancing productivity, the introduction of new processes and best practices for remaining ahead in the competition.
  6. Culture: It takes into consideration the shared beliefs, practices, values, norms and expectations of the members of the organization.

Steps to follow:

  • Dedicate time for planning

This may sound silly but you need to actually plan for planning. Always think of things, needs to plan for and to-do lists I need to write but not until recently did I realize that I was leaving the actual planning to the last minute. That’s because one wasn’t dedicating enough time to just sit and plan things out. Set up a recurring event in your calendar to just sit there and put your plans in writing.

  • Batch your time

I’ve tried so many “productivity hacks” and I find this one to be the most useful. It might not work for everyone but it’s worth the shot. Batching your time basically means that you divide your day into time blocks dedicated to only one task or multiple tasks of the same nature. This ensures that you don’t get distracted with doing other tasks and minimizes your tendency to multitask. It also allows you to enter the flow state of diving deep into one task.

  • Create checklists

Make checklists of things you need to get done and keep looking at those checklists. Many of us are guilty of writing down a to-do list, feeling good about it, and then never looking at it again. Put the checklist somewhere accessible like your notes on your phone so that you can pull it out easily. Track your progress and check off things that you’ve completed. Once you finish a checklist you’ll feel so good about yourself, trust me!

  • Prepare for the unexpected

No matter how hard you plan or how much you think you’ve thought ahead, always mentally prepare yourself for things to go wrong. There’s a saying that says “you plan and the universe laughs”, which is so true. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t plan, but just make sure you have back-ups and prepare for some crisis management.

Client & Consultant relationship

Consultants are expected to maintain professional and ethical standards when dealing with their clients. This can take the form of maintaining arm’s length relationships, not intervening in the internal affairs and politics of the client’s organizations, keeping confidential information away from interested parties looking for insider knowledge, and reporting any violations in the conduct (financial, operational, and behavioral) by the client’s organization to the regulators. This is the code of conduct that is usually prescribed for consulting firms whenever they take on work from client organizations.

Realities of Consultant-Client Relations

However, this is rarely followed in practice as evidenced by the large numbers of corporate scandals that have emerged in the last decade or so where the consultant was found to be aiding and even abetting the malfeasance conducted by the client. For instance, the Enron scandal manifested itself because the consulting firm was in cahoots with the client in cooking the books. Indeed, in this case, it was found that the consulting firm’s partners went beyond collaboration and were indeed one of the culprits.

Some Examples from the Corporate World

Similarly, the Satyam scandal in India was also found to be a case where the consultants (or some of them) knew about the goings-on in the company and were in breach of the code of conduct and even legal aspects since they did not report the matter to the regulators. However, the saving grace in this case was that when the malfeasance became too big and too hot to handle, it was the new consulting firm that had been roped in for another purpose that blew the whistle on the scam.

Consultants have to Walk a Thin Line between Professional and Personal Obligations

These examples indicate that the consultants have to walk a thin line between fulfilling professional obligations and reporting unethical behavior. Since the client is the one who pays them, it is often the case that the consultants are reluctant to report malfeasance to the regulators. Further, considering the extremely competitive nature of the market wherein there are several consulting firms competing for the same client, money talks and hence, consultants are often found to go along with the client. There are no easy answers when one considers all the aspects and it would be indeed a brave and conscientious consultant who would be the whistleblower.

Some Solutions Which Were Proposed

Having said that, there are some solutions that have emerged in recent years about the course of action to be taken by the consulting firms. For instance, after the Enron scandal, the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) and other regulators ensured that new rules separating consulting and investment banking so that the same consulting firm which was also advising the client in financial matters would now be two different firms. While this was intended to reduce the conflict of interest since it was thought that when consultants and investment bankers represent two firms they would automatically be in a position to wink at malfeasance, it is debatable as to how far this law succeeded given the Global Economic Crisis of 2008 wherein several case of malfeasance came to light.

Conflict of Interest is at the Heart of the Problem

Of course, as some experts have mentioned, the real issue here is of conflict of interest. How far would a consultant go in reporting unethical behavior to the regulators which is expected from him or her when such case involve the very clients who are giving them business. Further, the fact that many consultants often are embroiled in the internal politics of the client wherein they take sides in corporate and boardroom battles. This indicates the tricky nature of the problem of consultant client relations wherein the temptation to use confidential and insider information to one’s advantage is motivated by greed and power.