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Transformative Change: Are You Ready?


Over the next few weeks we will publish a series of guest blogs by Lectra discussing critical factors in the Change Management process within the Fashion Industry. In this, the first instalment, the PLM supplier examines the importance of team motivation. 

Changing direction


Embarking upon a PLM project is a long-term investment that requires asking yourself some important questions about your commitment to transformational change. To attain maximum ROI, the project must be accompanied by a well-thought out change management strategy from the very beginning. Leaders need to ask themselves if they are prepared to commit for the long haul, and if they are willing to go wherever the change initiative takes them.  Implementing a PLM impacts not only technology and process, it transforms roles and relationships. Even after completion of the project, the change will continue to resonate throughout the organization, ultimately affecting company culture and impacting diverse areas such as marketing strategies or hiring policies.

As a leader, you are the driving force of change and must be able to motivate your teams with a vision of the future while keeping your eye on the bottom line results. You’ll need to gather your best soldiers, and sometimes even some of your weaker warriors, to your side. Your vision must be crystal clear and you must show the confidence and enthusiasm to lead your teams through some potentially very uncomfortable changes. A robust change management plan is the key to a smooth transition.

Identify Your Change Ambassadors

Before even deciding on a PLM, it is wise to ponder who on your team can drive change, who will act as your ‘ambassadors’ of change? Sure, some obvious choices will come to mind, but don’t forget to include some lesser shining stars in your plans. Change is a wonderful opportunity to give a wide variety of players the chance to score a goal, by giving them accountability and enabling them to become change champions within their particular teams. In fact, sometimes it is even beneficial to engage a ‘squeaky wheel’ as a change ambassador. Those with a more critical mind-set can help you to identify potentially troublesome areas, and by making them active in the process, they take ownership and help to drive the change agenda forward.

The one common denominator for an effective change ambassador is that they are highly motivated for the project, and understand the commitment required. They will need to devote a few hours each week outside their normal responsibilities to the change project. If you find that one of your ambassadors is less than fully committed, you must replace them!

The Change Vision

When deciding on a PLM, it is also wise to give some thought to the change vision you will want to communicate. The vision needs to be clear and convey a sense of urgency – why it is important that we change now, why we cannot just continue in the same way – what the consequences will be to our company and its place in the market if we do not change immediately. Also important to communicate is exactly what actions are needed from each role.  It is generally taken for granted that a change initiative will necessitate training, but the skills learned will need to be applied, and it is the behaviour change that is most challenging.  Each employee must have a very clear understanding of exactly what change in behaviour is expected of them in measurable terms, in order to facilitate a sense of accountability.

Ben Hanson Ben Hanson is one of WhichPLM’s top contributors. Ben has worked for magazines, newspapers, local government agencies, multi-million pound conservation projects, museums and creative publications before his eventual migration to the Retail, Footwear and Apparel industry.Having previously served as WhichPLM’s Editor, Ben knows the WhichPLM style, and has been responsible for many of our on-the-ground reports and interviews over the last few years. With a background in literature, marketing and communications, Ben has more than a decade’s worth of experience, and is now viewed as one of the industry’s best-known writers.