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Transformation tasks: leading natural change

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Strategic Business Partner

My name is Richard Trevor and I’m Director of Transformation and Change at DIO. I started in this role on 3 September 2014 as a part of the DIO’s Strategic Business Partner team.

Richard Trevor, DIO's Director of Transformation and Change
Richard Trevor, DIO's Director of Transformation and Change

Before taking on this role, I led HP’s UK Public Sector, providing IT services to the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Justice, Department of Work and Pensions, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and other government agencies. I have some experience in dealing with large government departments, and in managing large and complex organisations.

Optimising Organisations

My passion is optimising organisations: they are unique and complex systems with lives of their own, and generally respond well to careful nurturing, occasional judicious pruning, and appropriate TLC. This means clarifying and rationalising structures, putting in place governance mechanisms, streamlining processes and workflows, establishing clear leadership and administration, and ensuring that the workforce is understood and properly scoped and skilled.

Half a millennium ago the renowned Niccolò Machiavelli wrote in The Prince:

“It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things”.

His warning holds just as true today, and I am very respectful of the challenge of making changes to an organisation.

Transformation Tasks

I have spent the past three months getting to know DIO: my first impression is of an organisation whose people make it work despite itself. The DIO’s structure today tells us more about its past than about its future, notwithstanding the intensive transformation programme which it has been through.

The first task of the new management team is to hit the ground running, not to stumble, and to deal with “business as usual”.

A couple return to married quarters at Tidworth on Salisbury Plain (Sgt Ian Forsythe, Crown Copyright)
Business as usual - supporting the military to live, work and train. (Sgt Ian Forsythe, Crown Copyright)

The next task of the new management team is to improve things. The contract lists no fewer than 67 initiatives to be embarked upon during the next few months, most of which must be completed within the Transformation Period ending in February 2016. One part of my job is to oversee the progress of those early deliverables, the Short-Term Transformation — but equally important is the implicit organisational improvement which we need to undertake in order to unlock the potential of the DIO.

Natural Change

Despite my title, and perhaps influenced by Niccolò’s sage counsel, I have no intention of running a grandiose Transformation Programme.

Instead, what I intend to do is to harness the natural, evolutionary background change which happens almost unseen every day, as people move on, projects progress, customers demands change, suppliers come and go, new staff join, and so on. This is change so natural that we accept it as normal and non-threatening. I intend to harness that change and, working with skilled staff from my team and across the business, carefully and thoughtfully guide it and shape it.

By implementing necessary and well-planned incremental changes in a measured and steady fashion, with as little fanfare as possible, we shall realise the potential of the DIO to be a high-performing, efficient and energised organisation — almost without staff noticing the extent of what we’ve done.

If I can do this, and largely unnoticed introduce a new order of things, then I shall have succeeded in my task— Niccolò notwithstanding!

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