Retailers Must Innovate
Everyone agrees with the idea that retail requires innovation. Whether they added subscription services last year, they’re adding curbside pickup capabilities today, or they’ll be adding appointment scheduling or some other new function next year, retailers have needed to and must continue to innovate in order to survive.
Sophelle published research on the 7 Practices of Highly Innovative Retailers. Many retailers have embraced the 7 Practices to innovate and become leaders in the industry. But too many retailers have struggled. For most, it hasn’t been because they haven’t wanted to or tried to innovate. It’s been because they haven’t been able to bring about the innovation successfully.
The 7 Practices are what retailers need to do to be innovative. This post focuses on how retailers can better enable change within their organization to facilitate innovation.
Change Isn’t Easy, Especially for Retailers
Most retail organizations have no shortage of great ideas. The CIO of a large retail client once told us, “There are 2,000 people who work in this building and it seems the job of 1,999 of them is to tell the one person with a new idea why it won’t work.”
No one thinks that they’re “anti-innovation” or against continual improvement. Too many in retail though are preconditioned to a wash-rinse-repeat mentality that fosters consistent operations, but prohibits change.
Change Management Is A Science
All successful executives are change agents. They’ve needed to induce and direct change in order to impact their organizations. While there is certainly an art to bringing about change, there is also a science to the effective management of change.
Sophelle follows the Prosci ADKAR framework. ADKAR offers structure to addressing change in a systematic and repeatable manner. We at Sophelle have fine-tuned the concepts for retail, integrated the methodologies into our processes, and leveraged the approaches into every project.
People won’t want to change unless they’re aware there’s a problem that requires a new approach. This extends throughout the organization. Executives need to be aware of the rationale for change in order to prioritize, fund, and lead the change. Management needs to be aware of the goals and risks to properly direct efforts. And staff need to be aware of their roles, responsibilities, and impact.
Tactic #1: Communicate the compelling reasons for change to enlist supporters.
Tactic #2: Communicate the risks of not changing to combat change resisters.
People won’t want to change unless they desire the outcome. It’s critically important for all participants to want the initiative to succeed. Sometimes all it takes is a small number of detractors to derail a project. Each participant should understand what’s in it for themselves, others (associates, partners, and customers), and the company itself.
Tactic #3: Solicit input from all areas of the business that will be involved and impacted to make them part of the change team.
Tactic #4: Create and distribute a business case that documents the change initiative’s mission, goals, and risks to begin sharing the experience.
People can’t change unless they have the required knowledge. Required knowledge includes how to operate in a new manner and how to affect the change to get there. Considerations include people’s base level of knowledge, their capacity to learn, resources that can be made available, and providing access to those resources.
Tactic #5: Explain new roles and responsibilities to allow participants to understand their contribution to the initiative’s success.
Tactic #6: Conduct training on new processes and tools to lower adoption hurdles.
People can’t change unless they have the ability to execute the new approach. Tools developed with agile methodology better facilitate solution agility. Waterfall development based on six-month cycles won’t deliver the degree of responsiveness that retailers should demand.
Tactic #7: Conduct ability assessment to ensure people have the necessary internal abilities (e.g. psychological and intellectual) and external abilities (e.g. time and resources).
Tactic #8: Conduct testing to ensure people are executing on track to achieve initiative goals.
People will feel forces to undo change. There are inevitable negative repercussions in any new initiative. New processes can be uncomfortable. New processes and technologies can be difficult to master. Reinforcement of positive gains and accomplishments works to offset negative side effects and setbacks.
Tactic #9: Celebrate change initiative gains to counter costs and setbacks.
Tactic #10: Acknowledge change participants to encourage future change initiatives.
In fact, there is much more involved with ensuring a successful change initiative than can be provided in one blog post. Each of the 5 steps have more factors and depths of complexity that should be considered unique to each initiative. There are many more factors as well.
Sophelle Can Help
The tactics provided above are starting points in addressing an organization’s ability to change. Sophelle has helped hundreds of leading retailers for 25 years. For more information and help, please contact Sophelle today.
This is the third in a four-part series on how retailers can come out of the COVID crisis best positioned to succeed in the future.
Part 1 “Begin Planning Now”
Part 2 “Agility Is Oxygen TM”
Part 3 “10 Tactics to Make Innovation Happen”
Part 4 “Today’s Retail Environment Demands No Surprises.”
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