Recently, I was in San Francisco at the Conscious Capitalism 2013 Conference. Now, San Francisco is one of my favorite cities for many reasons, not the least of which is the food. One evening I had a wonderful panna cotta dessert similar to the picture on the right (of course, I had devoured most of my own dessert before it hit me that I should have taken a picture, ha). There were some unexpected flavors and textures, all of which were delicious by themselves but when combined, made a unique and inspired dining experience.  It struck me that this not only symbolized the principle tenets of Conscious Capitalism but also effective change management.

Conscious Capitalism is a philosophy or movement that posits organizations have 5 key stakeholders – Society, Partners/suppliers, Investors, Customers, and Employees (or SPICE). Each has their own unique flavor and texture and are equally important to the overall success of the company. The business is managed in such as way that the interests of each stakeholder are brought to the table and result in a simultaneous win rather than the all too common win/loss scenarios. For example, how many employees have felt they’ve been on the losing side of decisions to satisfy investors? Ironically, the companies who embrace the Conscious Capitalism tenets have been shown to financially outperform the S&P 500 by 9:1 and the companies found in the book Good to Great (by J. Collins) by 3:1 over a ten-year period. (Source:  Firms of Endearment: How World Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose, Wharton School Publishing). Sounds like an inspired dessert to me. Sounds like a change I would like to see throughout the business world!

What if that win/win approach was taken in your change management efforts? Are your decisions solely based on economics or are the interests of your employees, your customers and vendors considered? We all know that about 70% of change initiatives fail because of lack of focus on the human element. Certainly the lack of attention to employee needs is paramount in this dismal statistic. But what about a lack of attention to customer needs? And how does the human element impact the Receivables Management solution provider selection process?

Attunement to your employee interests all revolves around communication. How well are you soliciting – and then LISTENING – to their input and feedback? Do you understand the manual A/R environments’ pain points and account for suggestions for improvement while you’re in the data gathering and solution provider selection phases of the project? Are you talking to the subject matter experts who actually do the work and bear the brunt of customer complaints or do you rely solely on high level bosses and the view from 10,000 feet?  Do you listen to the diversity of opinions and then make well-informed modifications when necessary or do you stand in a position of pride or stress and dismiss anyone who thinks differently as just not being on board with the project?

Change can bring about the fight, flight, or freeze response in many individuals. Do you have a change management program from experts in the field who can teach leaders how to help employees (and themselves) manage through this process with respect? What if the new Receivables Management System results in job changes? Are you handling this with open, honest communication and support?

What about the interests of your customers? Have you solicited their input directly? Are you listening openly and non-defensively to their needs and incorporating that into your solution? Do you strive to excel at customer satisfaction and exceed their expectations or is “no news good news”? How well are customers integrated into the change process? Is there a communication plan and implementation plan to address their questions as the process changes? Listening to the customer reflects how much you value them and is reflected back to you in customer loyalty and revenue.

Is there a true partnering with you’re A/R source system? If so, I wonder what different questions might be asked during the selection phase beyond pricing.  Is this Receivables Management System provider one you want to be in a relationship with for the long haul; a company with integrity that you can trust to meet your needs as a customer? Will they be there when things go wrong?  In short, is this a company you are proud to be working with?

The financial analysis is often the only consideration in the Receivables Management System decision. So, how much more effective could the change and your company be if all the unique flavors of your stakeholders were combined into an awesome solution – a beautifully inspired dessert, worthy of multiple spoons?

Do you include the key stakeholders in your change management efforts? What challenges have you faced?