Connecting Business – Growing Opportunities

How change management can support entering new markets

Change management is the way in which businesses manage organisation-wide change and can refer to changes in culture and people, processes and technologies and much more.


Research by McKenzie estimates that up to 70% of change programmes fail. However, when change management is done well, the results are significant.


Change Management Specialist at Pathfinder, Catherine O’Doherty shares her experience and views on change management and how it could impact Causeway members. 


While sometimes considered a new practice, the roots of change management lie in psychology, with research helping us to understand how humans experience change.


Catherine said: “In the 1990’s change management began to enter the business world, with thought leaders such as John Kotter advocating the importance of leading change. This new focus on people and change has led change management to become a formalised practice, with method and rigor. Today, organisations recognise the need for and value of change management. Organisations know that to survive, they must change.”


Change management enables organisations to successfully navigate complex change by putting people at their centre in order to deliver sustainable results.


Catherine added: “For change management to be effective, it must relate to the people the change is impacting. The designed approach should speak to them, motivate them, and tell the story of the transition or transformation occurring. Understanding this will allow companies to approach change in a way that is right for their environment, as opposed to applying a standard method which does not ‘fit’, and hence does not deliver results.”


Considering or entering new markets poses a significant change management challenge for all levels of any organisation, from strategic to operational.


Catherine commented: “Regardless of the type of change, the vision and ambition of the change programme should be clear from the start, and leadership should be aligned before engaging a wider audience. Once there is alignment, the type of change will determine the involvement, and timing is often key when bringing people into the change process.”


It is vital that those at management level consider the wider impacts of entering new markets, from structure to supply chain implications. Entering new markets may also require consideration of the culture which the organisation is entering, and the challenges this may bring in terms of resources, technology, risk and compliance.


Culture change requires everyone in an organisation to be receptive to it. This will then help when it comes to forming a new value system and developing new behaviours.


Similarly, to avoid the change being resisted, a technology change will also require those impacted by the change to be fully engaged. Organisational redesign work may have wider impacts, potentially even externally, and involvement will need to be carefully managed to avoid any undesired consequences. 


Catherine shares her top three considerations for companies approaching change management.

1. The organisation’s capacity for change: When embarking on a change programme, it is important to understand the organisation’s capacity for change.The ability to absorb change is imperative to success and is created through a combination of the right culture, structure and leadership. Most change programmes will consider an organisation’s capacity to develop and deliver change, but few will consider how the change will be absorbed and embedded so that it becomes the new norm. 

Understanding your organisation’s capacity to deliver and absorb change will provide a balanced view on what is the right pace of change for it to be successful; this pace must be one which can be sustained. Without understanding this, organisations run the risk of change saturation and fatigue, resulting in decreases in productivity, increased absenteeism and attrition, and ultimately failure to realise the desired benefits of the programme.

2. Commitment: Once the intention to change has been set, follow through must be demonstrated by leadership. Without this show of commitment from leadership, a sense of despondency grows, while those trying to deliver the change feel as though they are swimming upstream.

Leaders must be aware of their influence, and the importance of demonstrating their commitment through action and behaviour. People respond to seeing action, and then a call to action. It engages them and encourages them to get involved, creating a sense of connection and being part of something significant.

3. Change Impacts: When embarking on a change journey, understanding the impacts of the change from the start will provide valuable insight and direction. Completing a Change impact assessment from the outset will identify hidden impacts, allowing for adequate planning and risk mitigation

This understanding not only uncovers potential pitfalls, but also identifies opportunities in how the change is identified. Change is an opportunity, and by having a view from the start of where impacts lie, this opportunity can be harnessed and used as a lever through the change journey.


As a specialist in change, Pathfinder has countless examples of successful change initiatives. Check out the Pathfinder LinkedIn page for examples, with videos on how the team worked with Circle K to mobilise a channel strategy, and with Scottish Water to deliver a new Customer Engagement Model.


If considering entering a new market, change management should be on your radar from the outset. Meeting and talking with business leaders in similar situations is of huge benefit when it comes to any business change. Seeking out networking and contact building opportunities will be an important step in any change management activity.


Whether you’re already doing business across both sides of the Irish Sea, or just exploring the options, a Causeway membership gives you the opportunity to meet fellow professionals, share business ideas and hear from business leaders in Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland.


Interested in becoming a member, or just finding out more? Contact us

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