By Farrell Tan
CHANGE is constant. Change is more apparent now with the big “C” wreaking havoc on people, places, corporations and everything in between. There are essentially two ways to understand change: evolutionary or incremental change, and revolutionary or transformational change.
Evolutionary change is incremental and takes place gradually, over time. Slow, gradual change often takes place to ensure the survival of the organisation. Organisations undergoing evolutionary change may have been prompted by outside pressure, as in keeping up with technology or addressing the needs of stakeholders more effectively. In some cases, evolutionary change may be spurred by competition.
For example, hospital and healthcare providers have evolved by transforming their paper medical record keeping to electronic medical record keeping due to external financial incentives. Retail and food chains typically evolve due to outside pressure from competition, eg a new “Musang King” boba topping at one bubble tea chain invariably becomes an offering picked up by all the others. Whether healthcare, fast food, retail, or a service industry, evolutionary change keeps everyone in the game.
By contrast, revolutionary or transformational change is profound. From an organisational perspective, revolutionary change reshapes and realigns strategic goals and often leads to radical breakthroughs in beliefs or behaviours. When an organisation decides to engage in revolutionary change, radical transformations to products or services often follow.
The movement control order restrictions associated with recent government policy initiatives in Malaysia have seen businesses, both big and not so big, adjust in efforts to stay ahead of the curve and reach evolution.
Condom manufacturer Karex Bhd responded early on by converting two lubricant lines immediately to hand sanitiser production, specifically for medical customers.
Gardenia bread, now a prized commodity from the supermarket shelves, was able to maximise its output of bread within days, responding to the panic buying wave that overcame society. Its full capacity production was a direct response to increased demand.
Top Glove Corp Bhd followed suit by preparing a facility to produce face masks, with an anticipated capacity of 110 million masks a year. That is excellent news as current estimates are suggesting the current stockpile of such items is limited.
On a non-linear transformation, Permaju Industries Bhd went on record recently as investigating bottling and distributing Penaclo, which it claims has been proven as one of the most successful sanitising solutions in eliminating the virus.
SCGM Bhd pivoted from food packaging to facial shields, with orders from Malaysia, Singapore and abroad. Public Invest Research is quoted as expecting double-digit profit margins from this new segment for SCMG.
Overseas, HP and Smile Direct (Australia) are working on 3D printing of parts like ventilator valves and breathing filters, while local Penang-based engineer Louis Ooi Shiong Yirk has teamed up with local 3D printer owners and Prestige Dynamics Industries Sdn Bhd to produce face shields for frontliners. Working with the Penang Science Cluster to source additional raw material supplies, and to get state government involvement and buy-in, these collaborators have shifted resources to 3D printing for this specific purpose.
The challenge in today’s organisation is not in learning how to accept change, but in how to orchestrate the most efficient change leading to organisational evolution. Staying in touch with core values, maintaining a culture of innovation and learning to make the most of resources during change is the key to success. – June 26, 2020
Farrell Tan is the founding director of Orchan Consulting Asia.