Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Pricing and Change Management

Guest Post from Stephan Liozu, PhD, CPP
"Change is the only constant" - Heraclitus

The world is changing. Business is changing at the speed of light. Business complexity increases, environmental dynamics evolve, and competitive strategies are continuously reshaped. One thing is for sure: change is the only constant! And the pace of change is accelerating. The field of pricing is not immune to change. New pricing technologies emerge every year and disrupt the way we price products and services (price optimization, dynamic pricing, scientific segmentation, CPQ, multi-channel pricing). Pricing and competitive pressure have definitely intensified since 2009. Pricing professionals are asked to do more with less and increase their level of productivity by quickly adopting some of the latest technologies, methods, strategies available to them. More and more, pricing professionals have to act as change agents to deploy these pricing innovations and to collaborate with project managers to ensure deployment success. In order to do this, they have to become aware of and proficient in change management techniques as well as understand the importance of change leadership skills.

Change management represent the engine of change. It is composed of techniques, methods, and processes that are used to deploy new pricing resources or to conduct new pricing activities in an organization. Change management deals with the people side of change and ensures that things get done within defined process parameters, agreed upon budgets, and the required timeline. Change leadership is the fuel for this change engine. You can have the best change process you want, it is change leadership intensity that will make this engine run at the required speed. That includes drive, conviction, and passion so that the organization understand why the change needs to be done. Not many organizations have a dedicated change management team. When it is the case, pricing professionals have to take over the change management responsibilities. The upcoming workshop with PPS in Dallas was designed to equip them with the necessary skills.

Here are five more considerations that are essential for organizational change and which will be discussed during the upcoming workshop:

  1. Change needs to be intentional and focused: Change management cannot be reactive. It has to be intentionally design and managed across the organization. Change requires sense of urgency for doing things differently. It starts with an organizational realization that some pricing issues need to be fixed. It is easier to do when the organization is facing adversity or serious pricing problems. It is less easy to do when an organization is successful. Why should I change when we are doing great? How many times have you heard that?
  2. The vision is critical for success: Vision is critical to drive change. The vision rallies people around a goal and an outcome. This is may be one of the most neglected component of change initiatives. Yet all change management methodologies include a shared vision in their change process. Not many firms have a declared pricing vision. In fact, a 2012 survey we conducted with 557 CEO’s showed that only 39% of them had such a pricing vision.
  3. Change management is not project management: These are two different disciplines. They are often mixed up. You might hear “yes we do change management as part of our project” when in fact, business professionals focus solely on the technical aspect of their projects. Project management deals with the technical side of moving from current state to future state. Change management focuses on the people side of that transition. They need equal attention and work hand-in-hand in project teams.
  4. Pay attention to all relevant stakeholders: A big misconception is that pricing changes only concern pricing teams and sales organizations. Organizational change deals with everyone who touches pricing (finance, supply chain, customer service, etc.) and who interacts with customers (technical support, drivers, sales, etc.). That requires different organizational road mapping exercises: from stakeholder analysis, to what’s in it for me analysis, to holistic training plans.
  5. Change requires leadership support: Our survey indicates that change without capable champions and top leadership support is difficult. Resistance to change might come from the top as well. The role of the top leaders are to identify and make resources available to change agents. They remove roadblocks and tackle bottlenecks.

Pricing projects are hard to implement. Pricing transformations are even harder. If your organization is stuck in time or unable to embrace large organizational pricing projects, you have to think differently and bring in change experts. Change management is a science and there are amazing training programs out there. In 2013, I became a Prosci® Certified Change Manager and it opened my eyes on how rich the change management and change leadership fields are. The upcoming workshop was designed to include all these considerations as well as insights from these six change management methodologies. Join us to learn about how change management can improve the chances of success with your pricing projects.

Stephan Liozu (www.stephanliozu.com) is the Founder of Value Innoruption Advisors and specializes in disruptive approaches in innovation, pricing and value management. He earned his PhD in Management from Case Western Reserve University and can be reached at sliozu@case.edu.

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