How to Make Leadership Buy into Change

For me, the challenge was not two companies coming together but two cultures coming together.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

In today’s fast-moving business environment change is considered as the survival tool for existence. The success of an enterprise is dependent on its leadership and management’s ability to adopt change and transition. Mostly efforts to introduce a change in an organisation fail because initiatives don’t get enough buy-in from the employees.


Small Changes Making Huge Impact

For legacy businesses or relatively old organizations, the biggest challenge today is to stay relevant and for which the leadership needs to bring in changes in few key areas – technology, people, solutions that they are taking to the customer.

When the leadership is working on the transformation model, it is much easier to incorporate technology or innovating on the solution part. But, the challenge is to work towards changing the workplace culture and people’s mindset. And, it is even tougher to make them take the ownership of such changes. As an executive, I had some of my biggest learnings from the changes which happened within the organisation.

My Learnings from Change

While I was setting up up the office in the North America, I realised that we were very small in the larger scheme of things. And, we had to start from the scratch, even though we thought ourselves to be the best. We started things there as if it was a start-up. I would do cold call to the customer and figure out what my marketing strategy would be.

We would set up our own booth at exhibitions and fairs. Given a chance you have to behave like a start-up even in a large company. After I came back from the US, I got involved in a new sort of project, which is basically involved operations and IT together. The learnings were simple, you will never have a product or a service line which is 100 per cent in place. However, it is important to be in front of the customer and win that first deal Try to meet the market and the customer faster but obviously not with a half-baked product.

Thirdly, I got the chance to start a start-up within the company, a joint venture with Motorola, and I had to move out of the office. I realized that creating a start-up is lot more fun and a lot more pain too. You start learning people’s issues, the brand issue, people don’t want to join the company as they don’t recognse you, they think it is better to join the larger brand but they want the flexibility of the younger brand. With all these challenges, you have to keep working, wrap the first deal and make sure that the food is available on the table.

So, learning from this is don’t act big when you are not necessarily big. Then we as a company acquired Satyam which is also a big learning in terms of how you bring two large organizations together. In this case, the cultures were different and expections from the employees of the two companies were different. So for me, the challenge was not two companies coming together but two cultures coming together. In such situations, question every thing, challenge every function by showing this is the way to do it.

Essential Changes in a Fairly Large Organization

1 . Fairly large organizations need to have some kind of a structure which brings them reviews, opinions about the new organizations that are challenging the status quo. There should be a defined structure through which such feedback can come in. We are doing it this way but someone else is doing the same thing some the other way. I think the leadership need to have a little bit of paranoia, that if they don’t stay ahead of the curve then they might lose out.

2. Moreover, in older organizations you need to have people from newer thinking group in every vertical, not an age-only differentiator but a new thinking person who would not only challenge the status quo but also give a solution in terms of data.

(This article was first published in the  August issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)