Takeaways from The Change Management & Organization Design Conference – Toronto

May 4, 2017

This was a good week.

We landed our recent op-ed on automation and the next frontier for middle-management in the May issue of The Canadian Business Journal, and had the opportunity to share our customer experiences at The Change Management and Organization Design Conference in Toronto. We were joined by executive and senior leadership interested in knowing more about change and what really helps drive it and make it yield positive impact.

Our focus at the conference was to talk about experimentation and the benefits of prototyping for success. We aimed to share the practical and realized value of experimentation during a change journey.

There were laughs and claps as our Chief Operating Officer, Laurie Clarke, narrated customer experiences of how they overcame unconscious biases and fear of change through experimentation, and grew more capable and resilient as a result.

We didn’t speak and sprint. What’s the fun in that? We listened to other speakers including Cheryl Fullerton, Executive Vice President of People at Corus Entertainment, Valerie Fox, Executive Director of the Digital Media Zone at Ryerson University, and Nitin Kawale, President of the Enterprise Business Unit at Rogers Communications.

Listening has its rewards. Here are some key takeaways from stories shared by fellow speakers:


1. Stick to why. Let the how remain fluid.     

As Cheryl spoke about how Corus Entertainment chose to give their viewership more of what they wanted – especially after the acquisition of Shaw Communications – they made a commitment to listen to their customers to better deliver their media. Through Audience Listening, Corus Entertainment moved away from creating content for certain product channels towards creating quality content that meets audience preferences, which can be adapted to any platform. This change helped increase the utility of their content while improving audience experiences.

2. There’s a way to track organizational culture.

While culture is talked about, necessary action does not follow to bring the desired culture to life. It is also given a backseat in prioritizing efforts to other more measurable activities. Diana Jones, Manager of IT, Change Management and Organizational Development at Nokia made culture a priority by creating a tangible way to measure and track progress.  She did this this while accommodating 115,000 employees across continents, finding ways to gather feedback and specific data points. Tracking organizational culture helped Diana ensure the desired culture was being lived and supported by leaders and individuals at every level, globally.  Culture Tracking isn’t an annual activity but a continuous one, with feedback to leaders and individuals on how they can change behaviour to reach their optimal performance.

3. Leverage technology to keep organizations pulled together.

One of the biggest causes for business inefficiency and companies not sustaining growth and innovation is silo thinking and a consequential vacuum between leadership and the frontline. Technologies like Yammer and Slack present an unparalleled opportunity for leadership to stay connected to employees, helping create a space that invites questions, sets a forum for conversation, clarity and ideation. Such technologies can help sustain the hard work organizations go through to change their internal culture and behaviour, and help keep leaders connected, employees engaged, and business communities active.