Thursday, 10 April 2008

Redesigning Sales Forces

Redesigning pharmaceutical sales operations is probably one of the most strategically important things on the table of senior commercial executives in an operating company today. And this redesigning doesn’t only involve the field forces, but also their connections with other HQ functions such as Marketing, Medical or Sales Force Effectiveness groups.

Leandro Herrero has published a new white paper describing the methodology his company, The Chalfont Project, has used for years in their client work. This methodology combines strategy with group decision analysis, creating a shared common understanding amongst stakeholders, a common sense of purpose and shared commitment to action. This proven method will enable companies to find their most preferred option that will work.

Although the white paper is focussed on the pharmaceutical industry, the methodology equally applies to all industries when looking to redesign their sales forces.

You can read the full white paper here.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Difference in conduit of change

That brings me to item 7 on my list: the difference between traditional change management and Viral Change concerning the conduit of change, i.e. how change flows through the organisation.

Following the conventional approach, the primary vehicle for the change is the management tree/structure represented in the organisation chart. VPs fire the shots and take care of directors so they are on board. Directors repeat this at their level, involving managers and their groups, sections or divisions. Managers take care of their own trees. Change is created by a sequential cascade down, via ‘the plumbing system’ of ‘burning platform signals’, communications and activities, training and review processes. Buy-in is assumed as part of the rational process. All people are equal under the tsunami!

However, in Viral Change, networks of people are the primary conduit. Signals (language, strategy, ‘burning platforms’ and directions of change) may have been started at the top, and indeed communicated down via hierarchical ‘pipes’, but change is created by social imitation in networks of influence and driven by few individuals who act as key nodes. They constitute either an informal, natural network, or they may be aided by a designed network of ‘change agents’ or ‘Change Champions’. Viral Change does not subscribe to an egalitarian view: there is no point in communicating to all and cascading down as the only mechanism to spreading change.

If you want to read more about Viral Change, you can read it all in my book of the same title: Viral Change: the alternative to slow, painful and unsuccessful management of change in organisations

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Formal process of ‘the change management programme’

In this item – item 6 on my list – we take a look at how Viral Change differs in its process, its approach on the change management programme.

The conventional approach's formal process is consistent with the assumed and lived model of the organisation. It stresses sequence: create a ‘burning platform first, communicate strategy, plan, distribute tasks, train, roll-out, check. It relies on processes above behaviours.

Viral Change approaches the formal process of change with the understanding of the organisation as a living, adaptable network. It stresses multi-directional influence and creation of stable change by the combination of four elements:

(1) language
(2) behaviours and their reinforcement
(3) creation of tipping points (with emphasis on ‘social imitation’)
(4) establishment of new routines or ‘cultures (see later).

In Viral Change mode, the emphasis is on behaviours above processes.

If you want to read more about Viral Change, you can read it all in my book of the same title: Viral Change: the alternative to slow, painful and unsuccessful management of change in organisations