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The key to managing transition: lessons from Twickenham

17 December 2018

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What are the keys to managing transition within an organisation? At a lunchtime seminar between the men’s and women’s Varsity rugby matches …

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What are the keys to managing transition within an organisation? At a lunchtime seminar between the men’s and women’s Varsity rugby matches at Twickenham on 6 December, Dr Allègre Hadida of Cambridge Judge Business School outlined how the mission, vision and values of an organisation are crucial in adjusting to change.

The key to managing transition - Nick Koster
Dr Allègre Hadida
Dr Allègre Hadida

We are all creatures of habit, so change and corporate transition are often painful, but Allègre Hadida, University Senior Lecturer in Strategy at Cambridge Judge, outlined how change is fundamentally needed to allow organisations to evolve and grow. Organisations need to work together during times of change, to soften the disruption and to remind everyone what resources, capabilities and decisions made them successful to begin with.

Allègre invited Ian Ritchie, former CEO of the Rugby Football Union and now chairman of Premiership Rugby, and Rob Andrew, former England and British Lion fly-half who is now CEO of Sussex County Cricket Club, to present examples of their experience in successfully navigating transition when they took on new challenges.

Ian Ritchie discussed his work to improve the relationship between the RFU and professional clubs, including the development of junior age group sides to harness the power of the English game for the future. He also emphasised how the basic values of the game – teamwork, respect, enjoyment, and discipline – must be preserved in the midst of any changes. In addition, he stressed the importance of clearly communicating strategic sense of direction to both internal and external audiences.

Rob Andrew discussed the importance of values he learned as a senior England player, including good behaviour and holding people to account. While ambition is essential to success, he emphasised that it is also vital to understand the building blocks necessary to achieve one’s goals. Other key elements to achieving success include reducing internal politics, raising an understanding of strategy and values across an organisation, and focusing on the top priorities to lift the level of ambition.

Summing up the session, Allègre identified three key takeaways:

  • To be effective, an organisation’s values need to align with those of its CEO, other top managers, employees, and key external stakeholders.
  • Values cannot be parachuted into an organisation, but must be bred from within. Values imposed by a new CEO or outside consultants without regard for a firm’s culture tend to be ignored and buried in the bottom of a drawer.
  • Values must be lived within an organisation, as otherwise they are simply a list of buzzwords. To check that your firm’s values are still relevant, discuss them with colleagues and ask for concrete examples of how those values are demonstrated within the organisation.