Business Transformation & Q&A with Francesca Valli
We recently held a Business Transformation event at Brasserie Blanc to discuss the topic of “Demystifying Change” in a small roundtable setting. Our speaker was Francesca Valli, a business change expert who has helped to transform organisations such as Orange, Inmarsat and Reed Exhibitions. We caught up with Francesca after the event to find out more about her background in business transformation and to get her advice for businesses who want to start the change process.
Hi Francesca, could you tell us a little bit about your background?
I have a background in finance, business and system analysis and my work has taken me all over the world from Asia to the US. Over the years I’ve worked for a variety of organisations including Meteor, Inmarsat and Spark Now where I’ve helped them with all aspects of their transformation processes
That sounds great. So, what sparked your interest in business transformation?
Building on a lifetime of experience in finance and IT, I found that business transformation is where my skills, my ability to connect people and my personality unite. So much so, that I decided to focus on it full-time by starting my own change management consultancy, Chrys, this year.
We recently learned that you’re a non-executive director on the board for Front M, an innovative tech start-up that provides digital experience solutions. What does this role involve?
I help Front M with their performance and in their conforming to certain rules, regulations and policies. Again, after a lifetime in business, I’m happy to share all that I have learned to help and support smart, young companies.
We see you’ve previously worked with some big clients and organisations, could you tell us a bit more about those?
I have been fortunate to ‘learn the ropes’ with some fabulous organisations– especially when I was starting out back in the 80’s. Back then, you could dedicate more time to completing tasks properly and in greater detail. Throughout my professional life I have remained a global corporate ‘animal’. I feel most at home when I’m navigating my client’s complex, global universes. My previous roles have also given me the opportunity to develop my cultural awareness by allowing me to live and work in many different places.
How do you think business transformations should be approached?
The organisations I have worked with generally already had the right people that can deliver the change and assure its adoption. The trick was to be able to work with this layer of people and to give them the support and the accountabilities to deliver the strategic organisational change. We make change SO difficult. It doesn’t need to be, when it’s done right. We just need to demystify it with the right tools and teams and with a strong plan.
I always try to bring as enthusiastic energy, cultural understanding and an appreciation for diversity to my transformation processes. This is something I encourage my clients and their teams to adopt also.
What can a business gain from going through a well-planned transformation?
Return on investment, first and foremost. Then, you can actually achieve the transformation. But only if you plan it carefully and with the right participation from relevant business communities.
Do you think that people are an essential part of the change process?
They are definitely essential. There’s no transformation without people delivering it. You can achieve both a people and a cultural transformation if you encourage everyone to work together around a delivery plan. This collaborative, accountable way of working is what creates a true cultural transformation. The strategic transformation then follows.
Are there common problems you seem to uncover time and time again when implementing your transformation methods?
Yes, absolutely. Typically, organisation thinking change is so complicated that it needs to be ‘outsourced’ out to consultants.
Do you have any tips for businesses who are planning on implementing an organisational transformation?
‘Plug’ your team directly into the definition of the transformation and keep them there, from definition to implementation. Have the difficult organisational-design-based conversation early and be as open and as honestly as possible.
You were recently a speaker at a Deltra networking event about “De-Mystifying Change”- what encouraged you to do this?
I had been invited to talk at some of Deltra’s previous networking events. I loved the format of the evening, where various experts gather and share their experiences. It’s very helpful and of course I love having the role of someone that draws out everyone’s input! This is actually what I do with the team I work with: it’s essential to be able to make everyone contribute.