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Change Management

7 Real-Life Examples of Successful Change Management in Business

Any change management programme must identify areas of potential conflict, address the needs of everyone in the business and most of all, bridge the gap between the aspirations of executives and those affected by change. That’s exactly what the seven businesses below managed to do.

Here are real-life examples of successful change management in business.

meeting laptop

  1. British Airways
  2. Netflix
  3. Lego
  4. Domino’s Pizza
  5. A Regular Church
  6. Nokia
  7. Coca-Cola


1. British Airways

In 1981, British Airways appointed a new chairperson, John King. Early on, it was noticed that the company was extremely inefficient and a lot of valuable resources were being wasted. 

To help the organisation become more profitable, the chairperson decided to restructure the entire business. He decided that the most efficient way to do this was through a change management plan.

The organisation soon began to reduce its workforce. However, before this was completed, the chairman - through his change management leadership - provided the business with reasons for restructuring British Airways to help prepare them for the upcoming change.

His plan saw him axe 22,000 jobs - including half of the board - replace older planes with modern jets and eliminated unprofitable routes. One of his successors, Martin Broughton, paid tribute to King for the role he played in the transformation.

He said: “Lord King transformed the airline from a position of state-owned weakness to one of financial strength and global renown as a pioneer privatised carrier.”

So, through leadership and communication, he managed to direct the business through an incredibly difficult time and turned British Airways into a profitable business. 


2. Netflix

In 1997, the gargantuan media-services provider Netflix was born. Previously, the model offered customers monthly subscriptions to have movies posted to their door. This meant they avoided the late fees which traditional movie rental business imposed upon customers.

From the beginning, Netflix proved to be a disruptive organisation which has likely resulted in its capability to transform and adapt to the digital world. Streaming began in 2007 for the business and meant subscribers no longer needed to wait for DVDs to come through the mail.

Netflix successfully implemented change management to meet the needs of the consumers that would begin to watch content online. At one stage, it was at a crossroads, when its long-term sustainability was dependent on how it managed the change to a digital future.

netflix on ipad

After surviving a drop in subscription numbers and stock figures, Netflix subscribers grew from 23 million in 2011 to more than 137 million in 2018. So trusting their plan worked, as the business knew DVDs were on their way out and they needed to shift gears.


3. Lego

Lego’s reinvention has seen its story hailed as the greatest turnaround in corporate history. From 1932 until 1998, Lego had never posted a loss. By 2003, it was an entirely different story. Sales were down by 30% year-on-year and the brand was $800 million in debt. What didn’t help their situation was that Lego hadn’t added anything of value to its portfolio for a decade.

So, what happened between Lego’s CEO, Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, admitting that the brand is running out of cash and he wouldn’t survive, and when it overtook Ferrari as the world’s most powerful brand in 2015?

Much like Netflix, Lego eventually realised that its lifespan of physical products wasn’t going to have an infinite interest. After a period of expansion, this beloved toy company was near bankruptcy in 2004. With this realistic yet disastrous outcome on the horizon, Lego decided it was time to start restructuring.

To begin, the business implemented digital transformation. Instead of putting their sole focus on physical toy products, Lego is increasingly concentrating on bridging the physical and virtual augmented reality (AR) experiences.

Now, Lego’s revival has gone down in history. A book has been devoted to the subject - Brick by Brick: How Lego Rewrote the Rules of Innovation - while the likes of Google, Adidas and Sony all refer to it.

By finding new sources of revenue, LEGO has managed to transform its brand and keep up with the requirements of its target audience today.


4. Domino’s Pizza

The changes implemented by Domino’s Pizza finally saw the brand lift its sales over Pizza Hut for the very time. Using savvy marketing, creative ordering methods and innovative technology, things were finally looking positive in 2010.

Back in 2008, Domino’s Pizza was struggling as stock had hit an all-time low. Despite the importance the business had put on maintaining a positive brand image, its struggles were making this a real challenge.

In 2012, however, Domino’s Pizza was back on its feet due to a successful change management implementation. The organisation’s pizza turnaround, thanks to digital transformation, rested on the fact that key transformation players managed to convince top management to get on board. Eventually, their enthusiasm trickled down throughout the entire business.

The brand implemented new technology to support the chance. A new custom delivery vehicle with a heating oven was introduced, dubbed the DXP, which acted as a form of advertisement despite only 150 being on the road at the time.

The brand ramped up its digital efforts as well to meet consumer demand. Text messages, Alexa, Google Home, Twitter, Facebook, Smart TVs - they’re all methods used by consumers to order a pizza. 

Domino’s leveraged the wealth of consumer data through its custom operating system. This helped keep the transaction costs low and provided Domino’s with insights about its customers. Then there’s also the case of developing loyalty programmes and introducing special offers to continue to drive up sales.

Despite the successful change, it hasn’t stopped there. The brand has also tested drone and robot delivery - even partnering with Ford on self-driving options.


5. A Regular Church

Nobody has ever claimed that change management is limited to large corporations and well-known brands. Take this example from a blog post by KM Jeff, whose church was building a new sanctuary. Since it was the congregation that was going to be paying for the sanctuary, the church created a steering committee of members of the congregation.

Members were invited to participate and provide feedback during each step of the construction. They were made to feel like a valuable part of the process. The reason behind this was so that they’d embrace the change as they’d have provided their input.


By doing this and getting members involved, the church decreased any negative feelings towards the sanctuary. The lesson to take away from this example is that getting everyone committed to the process is an integral way of ensuring that your change management strategy will be a major success.


6. Nokia

Before smartphones entered the mainstream market, Nokia was enjoying the success it had built, as the business had claimed 40% of the market share in 2007. Five years later, however, the Finnish organisation was almost finished! It edged closer to disaster as shares plummeted and the company logged more than $2 billion in operating losses in the first half of 2012 alone.

The problem? Nokia realised that it had missed the opportunity to lead the smartphone revolution. Nokia then hired a new CEO and embarked on a journey to reinvent itself. After selling its struggling mobile device division to fellow giant Microsoft, the concentration shifted to network and mapping technologies.

In 2008, Nokia introduced a Booster Programme that helped the company match the ever-changing aspirations of its customers, as well as new technologies among competitors. They went from nine to four business units and streamlined development into just three business units.

Nokia also purchased Siemens and then Alcatel-Lucent. The result was billions gained in shareholder value and Nokia became a full-service infrastructure provider. Nokia’s amazing transformation from a borderline bankrupt hardware manufacturer to leading technology players shows how major organisations can respond to serious disruptions by transforming themselves.


7. Coca-Cola

Perhaps no organisation has been through change management challenges quite like the Coca-Cola Company. One example is from the 1980s when bitter rivals Pepsi started to aggressively target Coca-Cola.

In response, the latter released New Coke - a sweeter version of its classic drink.

New Coke wasn’t a success and didn’t appeal to the public. Coca-Cola wasted no time in replacing it with the older formula. Here, the brand was able to respond quickly to consumer preferences so that the product’s appeal was maintained.

It even stretches as far back as World War II. By offering free drinks to soldiers, Coca-Cola quickly marketed itself as a symbol of the US war effort. At the same time, it boosted brand recognition in destination countries that allied forces were occupying. During this process, Coca-Cola cemented its presence through 64 extra manufacturing sites across the world. 

This accelerated the company’s post-war global expansion strategy.

coca cola bottle

These are just some of the change management examples which show how Coca-Cola manages to stay ahead of the curve. To respond to greater health consciousness, Coca-Cola released Enviga, Diet Coke and Coca-Cola Zero to appeal to this target market. Then during the Asian financial crisis, the organisation pursued an acquisition strategy to better deal with consumer preferences.

By reacting quickly and acting proactively in anticipation of changing trends, it’s clear how change management is a vital component in Coca-Cola’s overall strategic vision.

In today’s environment, organisational changes are constantly happening and have become a critical component in adapting to the constantly changing dynamics of the marketplace. Whatever your business, your goals remain the same. 

If you want to succeed, stay innovative, anticipate the future and capitalise on opportunities as they emerge, then you need the tools to make decisions in real-time through Connected Planning. By aligning your internal teams and having the ability to see around corners, stay ahead of change and make better-informed decisions you can deliver successful change management at scale.


Get Your All-in-One Guide to Connected Planning

To help, we’ve created an all-in-one guide for everything you need to implement Connected Planning successfully in your organisation. From its benefits and purpose to the tools you need for implementation, we’ve covered it all.

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Change Management

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