Recently, The Parker Avery Group published our latest point of view titled, “The New Pace of Change” where Senior Manager Marty Anderson outlines a prescriptive approach to engaging retail organizations into leading and embracing change as a culture.  Marty’s perspective is that retailers should not limit change management as a toolset applied to specific initiatives–but expand this mindset into a corporate environment of continuous innovation and evolution.

Building on last week’s “Ask the Experts” blog post on implementation, where the importance of solid change management execution was clearly a consistent theme, this week we provide an excerpt of this new publication.

Recently CNBC published an article which depicted a snapshot of the top retail companies in the 1970s versus the top retail companies of 2017. The article painted a very sobering picture—primarily that only a handful of the retailers on the list from the 70s were actually still in business today. This unfortunate situation was attributed to the leaders of these companies failing to react to the world’s changing dynamics—and more importantly the consumer behavior and the resulting impacts to the retail industry.

Tony Rogers, Walmart’s Chief Marketing Officer, acknowledged this challenge, “Those retailers that are afraid of change are the ones that end up lagging behind.” Their lack of agility and inability to stay relevant in our ever-changing socioeconomic climate led to the down-trend and ultimate demise of these once shining retail stars.

In recent years, retailers have come to understand that with the rapid advancement of technology and analytic applications, as well as the constant evolution of ecommerce and social media, they need to stay agile and adaptive. The seemingly easy answer is to prescribe new technology—and many retailers will admit their foundational systems are in dire need of replacement. However, the answer to succeeding in an uber-competitive world goes much further than simply installing a new system.

Particularly for established retailers who have been around for several decades, we often see long-tenured executives and associates who hold deep knowledge of the traditional retail environment, as well as intimate familiarity with the innerworkings of their company. While this level of aptitude can be invaluable in many aspects of running the business and crafting strategies, it can also prohibit the organization from being nimble and adaptive to true change. The mindset we often encounter is “that’s the way we do things,” and many organizations believe their ‘secret sauce’ must not ever be touched or evolve. It is this mentality that must change to embrace perpetual innovation in order to achieve true transformation.

While there may not have been as many resources related to change management 30 or 40 years ago, it has become a common phrase today, particularly in larger American organizations. Parker Avery regularly works with companies in providing change management programs to support new system implementations and the associated process and organizational changes. This commitment to incorporating comprehensive change management to support well-defined business transformations is vital to a successful system implementation. However, for a company to continue to grow, adapt, and stay relevant over the long term, it is critical to also build an effective and sustainable change environment. This may sound redundant or, to some, synonymous but these are very different things.

Change management during major process redesigns, organizational realignments, or system implementations is a very prescriptive approach to supporting organizations through major transformations while trying to mitigate the impacts. Traditional change management consists of an expansive toolbox that covers impact assessments, communication plans, associate training programs, and other governance and mitigation protocols to ensure that projects stay controlled and manageable.

There is usually an established group of stakeholders and a leadership committee to make decisions and give direction throughout the project or to help course-correct if things go unexpectedly. Several task force teams may even be created to work through particularly difficult problems. These tools are common tactical components of a good change management program that should not be under-appreciated. However, long-term change leadership is a bit less contained and more difficult to master.

Change leadership is about creating a positive climate for change by engaging the entire organization in a way that enables embracing a mindset of sustainable and ongoing innovation. This is much more open-ended and facilitates the generation of new ideas that will propel the company forward and continuously challenge the organization to think broadly about what can and needs to be done.

Marty goes on to detail how Kotter’s time-tested 8-step change model specifically applies to today’s fast-paced retail environment, and he adds some pragmatic recommendations.  To read the full point of view, please visit

For more Parker Avery thought leadership on change management, we invite you to read the following publications:

Published On: June 28, 2018Categories: Change Management, Marty Anderson, Retail Strategy