How to build a future-fit organisation

A large number of organisations are not rated by their leaders as ‘future-fit’. So how can they prepare themselves and gain competitive edge?

Making sure their organisation is future-fit is one of the most important things leaders can do. In a world where so few life sciences companies are future-fit, it’s a process that will set you apart and bring clear competitive advantage.

Recently, some thought-provoking figures were published by Indegene: only 10% of life sciences leaders strongly agree their company is future-ready, and only 23% of leaders believe they have the executive sponsorship to be future-ready.

Not only that, but while many people in life sciences do feel that their company celebrates innovation and learns from other industries, at the same time far fewer leaders (although not all) feel they work in organisations that encourage them to take risks and failures, and break down silos.

These figures are not necessarily surprising, but they are concerning. Clearly, there’s a way to go for the industry to prepare itself for the challenges of the future.

So, how can the leaders of healthcare companies set their organisations up for the future?

Hygiene factors won’t set you apart

One of the biggest reasons that organisations can fail to ensure they’re future fit is by assuming that they’re doing enough. Yes, you might have the right jobs, the right systems and the right processes. You might have found operational efficiencies. You might have the right technology and be a strong digital adopter. However, these are all hygiene factors. In the competitive, fast-changing world of healthcare, ‘enough’ will not set your organisation apart.

What does set you apart?

Firstly, realising that you cannot just be internally focused or focused on what you know. And people sense it when you are too insular – hence picture the Indegene survey paints of some life sciences companies as tending towards being siloed and hesitant to change.

Instead, look at your economic environment, your political environment, and the market, country and region you’re working in. Think about the priorities in these regions and therefore what you can do to align with these priorities. Be open and learn to listen to a broad range of perspectives.

Also, look at how your organisation can become a talent magnet. This is not merely about getting the right people in the right jobs (a hygiene factor), it’s about realigning culture and finding out what your people want their culture to look like. It’s about working out what good talent really means to your organisation and thinking clearly about how to plan for that strategically – from hiring and developing the right people to proactively planning for vacancies.

Future goals and how to achieve them

When building a future-fit organisation, it’s also worth looking for clarity around your goals.

Future-fit organisations have a clear understanding of their strategic agenda. This means asking yourself questions like: Where does your department/business want to be and why? What are the three biggest changes you want to make in your department/business over the next five years? What is your department/business goal in the next 12 months, five years, and 10 years?

For more information on questions to ask yourself, try downloading our Inventory list of questions to understand your business.

But while a future-fit organisation starts with a firm grasp of goals, you must also ensure that you implement ways of working that will allow you to discover opportunities. It’s these opportunities that will lead you to your goals.

This means constantly looking to the future, to shifts and trends which you can capitalise upon. It means continually seeking fresh thinking, as well as ensuring that your customer remains at the centre of every decision. And it means taking a positive attitude towards discovering and addressing roadblocks – seeing them as opportunities to improve.

To become a future-fit organisation, you must approach this steadily – looking for constant, small improvements that are informed, planned and well-executed, rather than rushing towards the next thing. It’s about being persistent but also agile, so you’re on a steady path, but able to adapt to whatever changes come along – and where possible, anticipate them ahead of time. All this while continuing to deliver on business objectives in the present.

Making implementation considered

Once you have plans in place, carefully consider change management. Rather than assuming it will all be okay, have a plan from the very beginning. Also, have someone who is in charge of managing change – as it’s a job in itself, and one that requires specific skills and attributes.

It’s also important to get the pace of change right. Too fast and you risk alienating people, too slow and you might lose momentum. If you walk into an organisation and suddenly declare that everyone needs to do something different, then it’s natural that people will find that difficult.

Instead, leaders need to make sure that they bring people on the journey with them. People are an organisation’s most valuable asset, and it can cause significant damage if you lose their trust and support along the way. Instead, make them advocates for your cause.

This means being inclusive, considerate, respectful and humble towards your people. It means sharing strategic plans with them and inviting comments, so they feel part of the process and can understand the rationale behind everything that’s happening. It’s being compassionate when they struggle with change.

Making sure their organisation is future-fit is one of the most important things leaders can do. It involves plenty of work and tough questions, plus a strong plan for bringing the organisation along with you. However, in a world where so few life sciences companies are future-fit, it’s a process that will set you apart and bring clear competitive advantage.

For more information or help, have a look at our organizational development services, or contact Hunton Executive for a confidential discussion.


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