What could Brexit mean for those implementing business change?

Last week, two of Nine Feet Tall’s leading change consultants attended the 2017 Cranfield University Alumni Conference. Joe Nellis’ keynote presentation on ‘Is there life after Brexit?’ particularly stood out and provided some valuable inspiration for this article.

Where are we now?

In the aftermath of the Brexit decision, what is the state of the UK economy? Well, the picture isn’t as gloomy as some would suggest. Growth for the year is on track, at around 1.5-1.7%, with many originally predicting much worse! Whilst the pound has fallen, the stock market is at an all-time high. We also seem to have bounced back from recession, with record employment reported. It’s not all good news however. Whilst many companies haven’t deserted the UK just yet, there are many that are holding back on key strategic decisions and investments as they wait for some clarity on the implications of Brexit.

What change will happen and why?

This is the key question everyone wants to know answers to. Whilst there seems to be some forward progress in EU divorce negotiations, the true answer here is that currently nobody knows! What can be assumed however, is that the current delays in investment decisions will start to build up. Then suddenly, once there is more clarity, there should be a surge in investment – in systems, processes and personnel changes. A likely rush can be anticipated to catch up on the current void and a subsequent increase in export led growth, as foreign companies take advantage of the pound’s depreciation.

What opportunities might there be for change implementation?

As the UK leaves the EU we can expect a rapid and expanding set of opportunities for those charged with implementing change in their organisations. Whatever your political viewpoint on Brexit, the future looks bright for change practitioners. The demand for those able to deliver effective, rapid and incremental changes will be high. Factors driving this demand include:

  • A pick up in investment in key areas, such as technology, to drive organisational change
  • Disruption led opportunities created by political changes, subsequently leading to increased activity, such as mergers and acquisitions
  • High demand for rapid adaptation of systems, processes and personnel to new market conditions
  • An increase in the requirements for incremental changes, as well as rapid change in some sectors to ensure survival

In summary, we know where we are now. Even if that is a period of high uncertainty. What exactly is going to change is not clear, but as clarity emerges the only certainty is that change will need to occur rapidly. The delivery of change effectively and reliably is crucial for businesses to respond in a complex environment. Hold on tight, change upon change is ahead!