Investigation reveals many costly corporate change programmes should be dropped

Professor’s findings suggest focused initiatives to provide direct support to customers and front-line staff can quickly deliver multiple objectives

General, costly and protracted improvement programmes in many companies need to be replaced by fewer but more focused and affordable initiatives that can simultaneously achieve multiple objectives according to Prof. Colin Coulson-Thomas speaking in Prague at a conference for those leading change, improvement and transformation programmes in the energy sector. “Less really can be more” argued the professor “fewer activities focused upon supporting key work groups in demanding front-line roles can result in large returns on investment within a few months.”

According to Coulson-Thomas “Policies and priorities can and do change while many expensive and costly programmes struggle to deliver tangible benefits. Life is too short to burn up precious time on corporate wide change initiatives that have a low probability of delivering. Customers usually have little or no interest in a supplier’s structure, systems, processes or culture. They usually just want to competent, quick, safe and effective response from the front-line staff they deal with.”

The professor believes “Too often corporate bureaucracies are getting in the way. There is little point trying to improve them or change the behaviour of middle managers when increasingly lower cost learning and performance support can help customers and the front-line staff who deal with them to increase their understanding and help themselves. Rather than try to change structures, systems, processes and cultures corporate leaders can simply by-pass them and reduce them.”

Coulson-Thomas has identified critical success factors for vital corporate activities. He believes the key to success is to help people undertake key tasks and important jobs as a top performer would: “Winning more business can be a matter of submitting winning bids rather than re-engineering a bid process and its supporting systems. You cannot re-engineer a process to submit a bid before it is prepared. Key tasks are getting an invitation to bid, preparing a winning response and negotiating a successful conclusion. Our Winning New Business and related reports set out how to do this.”

The professor gave examples of how success can be achieved and support delivered by simple and widely available technologies: “The mobile devices one’s people and customers have bought for themselves can often be a readily available means of providing 24/7 learning and performance support. Speed is important as windows of opportunity quickly open and close. The costly mega-projects advocated by so many external providers would be too late even if they delivered”.

The results of a five year investigation into more affordable routes to building high performance organisations undertaken by Prof. Coulson-Thomas are being set out in a series of reports. They suggest it is possible to simultaneously deliver multiple objectives and benefit people, organisations and the environment. Learning and performance support can enable average people to excel, ensure compliance, increase performance, cut costs, speed up responses and reduce risk and stress.

Dr Colin Coulson-Thomas, an international Change Agent and Transformation Leader Award winner, has the been Process Vision Holder of successful transformation programmes when energy markets have opened up in the UK and Austria and advised on the implementation of certain of the largest change programmes undertaken in the utilities. He was the world’s first Professor of Corporate Transformation and can be contacted via

Publications based upon investigations led by Prof. Coulson-Thomas to identify and develop more cost-effective approaches, including Winning New Business and other reports on how to win business, reports on talent, knowledge and key account management, pricing, purchasing, creating and exploiting know-how, and Winning Companies; Winning People which provides an overview of what high performers do differently in areas examined can be obtained from

Prof. Coulson-Thomas was speaking on Simultaneously Achieving Multiple Objectives at a conference on Advanced Business Process Management and Operational Excellence for the Energy Market. The event was concerned with building sustainable and profitable operational capability and held at Le Palais Hotel, Prague in the Czech Republic.


25 May 2013
Colin Coulson-Thomas