Doordarshan, the Indian government controlled bouquet of TV channels has become the butt of jokes. Hardly anybody in the cities watches these channels. The reasons are many, some of the important ones being that the programmes are not flashy like the private channels, the content follows a set of rules for programming that were made by the government a few decades back. Most of the programmes are not appealing to the young generations from the big cities and metros which are the drivers of TRP.

On the other hand there is BBC, another public sector broadcaster which provides world class programmes which are watched by the same set of people in India who despise its Indian equivalent the Doordarshan. The silver line is that Doordarshan has realised that it needs to change. This acceptance of the fact that there is a requirement to change is the first step in the direction of strategic change of any company or organisation.

What is Strategic Change?

It is a lasting change in the purpose of an organisation, its processes, its structure, the skills of the organisation and the services or products that it provides to the customers. This strategic change should provide a major improvement in the performance of the organisation. While undergoing a strategic change, the organisation not only needs to change what it is doing, but also change how it does it. The change has to be brought in keeping focus on the needs of the customer. The organisation needs to keep a track of the demands emanating from the customers and how they change with time. Any insensitivities to these signals or the change in these signals becomes the main cause of problems in the organisation.

If the products and services are not aligned to the demands, initially the demand for these products and services will slow down and then slowly dry up. This will affect the revenues and hence the profits of the firm. It will affect the cash flow and the working capital and slowly the organisation would find itself in the midst of a financial crisis.

To overcome these problems, strategic change in the direction of the organisation becomes essential. Strategic change is more than just improving efficiency and reducing costs. It must re-align the organisation with signals being sent out by the customers.

Fine, we have realised that a strategic change is required. But what are the requirements for affecting a successful strategic change?

  1. A clear understanding that the organisation is facing issues that need to be resolved and they can be resolved through major changes. Because unless you understand the problem, you cannot solve it.
  2. The people of the organisation should be convinced that change would be good and it is possible.
  3. The changes which are being brought about should be new and not something which is incremental and would have been done anyway in the natural course of time.
  4. Take large bold steps, because if that is not done, the survival of the organisation itself would become a question mark.
  5. The leadership of the organisation should be fully committed to the strategic change and it should not be a half hearted affair. Leadership should ensure no small turf battles are fought which would impede the change being implemented.
  6. There should be clearly defined and undersrood timelines within which the changes are to be executed. Open timelines would only lead to procrastination and delays which would dilute the changes.
  7. Goals which are to be achieved should be clearly marked and metrics should be in place to identify the rate of execution and the scope of execution implemented.
  8. An finally, strategic changes need funds, may be large infusion of funds. These should be made available as and when required.

There are stories galore of firms which did not wake up to the changing customer preference and perished. For example Kodak did not realise the change in imaging preference of the customer from film to digital imaging and went bankrupt. On the other hand there are firms which realised the requirement to change and rose like Phoenix. IBM realised the decline in hardware business and remodelled itself into a computing company from a computer company to retain its position as one of the largest and most innovative companies in the world.

So, assess the environment around and change before the world around you changes and leaves you a misfit.