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The joy is in the journey: how remaining open to learning and embracing change helps you to improve

“The Transformer relates to the ability to manage change, not only in the day-to-day operations of the firm, but also in finding space to think strategically about the future” [1]

On Tuesday’s Business Bunker Show we were lucky enough to be able to welcome Martin Daniel of Siegrist Orel to discuss his experience of transformation in his role as Managing Director of a small ambitious business.

We explored the key stages of transformation in the business and the how this had been for his team, the company and him. Martin began by pointing out that:

“It sounds easy to say those things however, there was some incredible pain and some fantastic fun on the way”

So what were ‘those things’, and why are they important?

Understanding your relevance in the marketplace

Businesses that believe things have reached a point of stasis, a point where there customer base will always remain loyal to them and everyone else will too, are at great risk. An overly internal focus can mean that changes in the external environment can be being ignored, or even denied. This is potentially fatal, whether slowly “death by a thousand cuts” or fast and furious, the risk of becoming ever more irrelevant is very real and must be avoided for long term, sustainable, business success.

This is where the transformer comes in, the transformer recognises that the way the firm is manages has to continually change and evolve and for this to happen they draw on external and internal expertise. For Siegrist Orel this meant significant and hugely impactful transformation. What Martin recognised was that the firm had a great reputation, a long and proud history and a loyal committed workforce and also needed to address its relevance to its customer base, to maximise its potential.

Steps that Martin took to transform his business

Steps Martin took with the management team to promote this transformation were:

  • Gaining a financial sense of the firm and stopping any unnecessary losses
  • Creating a shared sense of the organisation’s aspirations, and being really clear on what these were
  • Painting a picture of the future
  • Engaging staff throughout the firm
  • Building a strategy to take the firm forwards
  • Focusing on the senior team and ensuring they were able to deliver
  • Taking on a personal learning journey of his own, and accessing a wide range of business support

This enabled Siegrist Orel to develop two main new strategies for growth; enlarging the product portfolio and internationalising the business. Rather than cutting costs, they balanced the long and short term, and focused on what their customers expected from them, developed a globally relevant product portfolio and in the process secured the future for the workforce. This meant taking the needs of employees seriously; developing them and helping them find the place for them to be at their best as the organisation moved forward.

To succeed, remain open to learning and embrace change

This development of people and their thinking and practice, included Martin himself who had begun this organisational transformation with no real training, leading the way from gut feel and prior experience. What was a challenging, and at times uncertain, certainly proved to bear fruit. There were no super quick wins, there were longer term gains. The process of transformation being one that needs to be very carefully balanced and delicately managed over a period of time, as opposed to rushed through.

To achieve this, business owner-managers need to find the time and space to really think through where their business is and where it is heading. This requires a focus on internal capabilities and external demands and realities to really understand what can be achieved and how the organisation and its people need to change to fully exploit those opportunities.

It may not be easy, and it may require a lot of work however, it can also be hugely rewarding and of course, fantastic fun.

For further information…

Click here for further information on the collaboration between the Kent Business School and the Business Bunker Radio Show. Should you have any questions in regard to this piece of the wider work please do not hesitate to get in touch with Dr Simon Raby [email protected] or Paul Andrews [email protected]


[1] Gilman, M. Raby, S, and Turpin, J. 2012. The ‘BIG Ten’ Characteristics of Success. ISBN: 978-1-902671-76-5