CIPD14 – Maintaining drive and enthusiasm during change and innovation in SMEs

Jill Miller (CIPD) introduced a popular session, talking about how agility is easy in the early stages of a start-up, but it takes a conscious effort to maintain this as a business grows.

Jane Middlemiss (ILG) talked about what she found when she first started working for ILG, and that there was much that needed to be addressed following a significant period of growth. Jane talked about how she developed a HR Strategy starting by focusing on employee engagement and management capacity, and then establishing fit-for-purpose HR policies and procedures. Jane reflected that this was different from her experience of tackling similar challenged a few years ago, when the first thing to be addressed was the policies; A sign of the more strategic focus in the HR profession?

More recently, there has been a focus on agreeing the OD strategy for ILG and Jane talked about the main building blocks of this, including getting really clear on Board priorities and retaining the company culture whilst also challenging the status quo.

Jane talked about how important it was for them to develop their leaders,
– Develop a manager competency framework
– 360 feedback
– MBTI
– Executive coaching
– Board development
– Management team development
– Feedback

This made a big positive impact and resulted in some role changes so that people could play to their strengths (I’m delighted to hear that!) and that it really helped people to understand each other and appreciate their differences.

Jane talked about the challenge of time (balancing transactional and transformational), focusing on the business priorities, being flexible, and overcoming resistance to change.

Keith Jackson (JRI Orthopaedics) talked about the origins of JRI, and how they started as an innovative but somewhat autocratic company. They’ve done a lot to transform the organisation, including:
– Purpose: Remind people about why the company is there and what they do, including sharing patient stories.
– Create a culture of innovation: Moving to a new premises helped, along with creating the right climate and culture. Innovation includes new products but it has to apply to more things, and it can be applied to services.
– Communicate so that people really know what is going on and what the priorities are (patient first)
– Let go, giving people the headroom to innovate and focusing on a mantra of ‘just test it’ rather than ‘just do it’, to emphasise the importance of experimentation and learning.
– It is important to accept different perspectives and JRI make an effort to triage ideas in a way that isn’t seen to kill ideas. Everybody in the business is trained in business improvement techniques so that they are equipped with the tools they need (especially important in a regulated industry). There is a real focus on recognising that good ideas come from anywhere and everywhere… not just from the top down.
– Collaboration is a key focus, both within JRI and with other organisations.

Keith concluded by saying that JRI now feels like a real learning organisation and that seems to have transformed the way they think, act, and engage with other organisations.

(This was live-blogged during the session at CIPD14 – I’ve tried to capture a faithful summary of what was said, but my own views might occasionally creep in.)

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