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Preparing your organisation for the future

Matthew Tukaki of the Sustain Group presented on change management using as a case study a succession project he conducted for Drake. The presentation notes will be available on Slideshare and here are some snippets from the Q&A session at the end.

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When you went out and spoke to people about the coming organisational change, what was the vision you presented?

Rather than telling people what I wanted them to want, I did a lot of listening to find out what people wanted, to build their trust and to find out what the best way forward was.

 

You were confronted with a huge mess when you began this project. How did you keep yourself going through dark days?

Even though I might quip about getting rid of a whole lot of senior management, there’s no glory in doing what was done to those people. I remain in touch with a fair number of them and helped some of them get new jobs. When you’re doing this type of role you are alone. I had no one I could talk to. Trying to explain things to my partner at home was quite interesting. I tried to keep it out of my private life. Roles like this are always lonely and tough. There are occasions where you wonder if it’s worth it. Also you’re travelling quite a bit, so you’re away from home. There’s no glamour in travelling for work.

 

Are you now a gun for hire?

I try to stay away from the gun for hire tag which I've been called often but don’t like it. Ironically, what I do now is work with soon-to-be-former business heads and ministers of parliament to transition to other role.

 

Why didn’t the CEO act earlier?

He was surrounded by yes people.

 

How did they find you?

I had a bit of a reputation. The CEO had heard of some work I had done for another organisation and approached me.

 

How did you build trust to share knowledge?

Empowering people, getting them feeling like they were involved in the decision making process. Giving them small wins.

 

During the initial four-month evaluation period, did everyone ask you what you were doing?

No, that’s about your personality. I don’t look like a traditional CEO or consultant. I went in and become part of the organisation. I became their friend, listened to and contributed to water cooler talk. It’s not something you learn right away, it’s something you develop as part of who you are. Talking to people and listening is key.

 

How do you walk away after investing so much?

You never really walk away from a group of people who have become part of your corporate family. Hopefully you’ll know them for a lot longer than either of you were at the company. You do need to detach but I remain a supporter of the business and business strategy. In five years’ time, you’ll need to go back and do it again so you keep those relationships going.

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