‘The business is called Sullivan & Stanley after my two sons because I want to inspire the future of work for their generation’

Employment & Skills | Interview

Business Leader recently spoke to Pat Lynes, the Founder and CEO of specialist change consultancy, Sullivan & Stanley about his business and why having a positive impact is crucial for a company.

What are you currently seeing in the market?

Within organisations, there are currently three different types of mentalities on executive boards. You have the boards who are cutting costs to the bone and letting people go. I fear for these businesses because if they cut too deep, they may never recover.

Then there are the boards in the middle ground who are trying to fix the now, by improving what is already available, to simply weather the storm.

Finally, some boards are innovating their way out of this. They’ve managed to use the existing cash balance to re-engineer their future – these businesses will be the winners.

How are these winning companies you mentioned responding?

The winning companies are the ones that despite the knock backs, are putting change at the heart of their agenda. This is because Covid-19 has given organisations a free pass to build a business of the future. And, the winning companies have built a vision around this and are taking small, but crucial steps to get there.

We’re currently working with a client who has taken a 50% revenue hit. However, the board is being brave and has raised money to tackle it head-on with a focus on becoming the market leader. They’ve decided to invest this money in reinventing their outdated business model, creating a new one fit for the future. Will the company’s balance sheet and share price look good in the short-term? Absolutely not. Will it look good in the mid-term? They’ve got a very good chance.

What have you been doing as a business to help companies work towards this?

When I set up Sullivan & Stanley in 2016, it was created on the premise that we wanted to help solve the change problem. This is because over 84% of transformations fail, costing businesses billions of wasted dollars and pounds yearly.

It’s not acceptable. So, we’ve created a new tool called ChangeReady6, which has been specifically designed to help derisk the change investment. Most boards, private equity firms and companies are scared and fearful of change because it’s hard. ChangeReady6 helps businesses get their foundations right before executing a change programme, increasing the likelihood of success. It’s a way to gamify alignment with the board, the right strategy and the process of where a company is, to where they want to be.

We’re living in a highly volatile, complex and disruptive environment. New technologies, changing climates and unforeseen emergencies such as the Covid-19 pandemic are challenging organisations of all sizes. Why it is more critical than ever that businesses deliver successful change because every pound counts. So, if we can help companies get it right the first time, then we’re doing our part to have a positive impact on businesses and industries.

You mentioned having a positive impact, why is this important to you?

The business is called Sullivan & Stanley after my two sons because I want to inspire the future of work for their generation. We’ve got an incredible opportunity right now to create a better future of work and help executives, businesses and industries do the right thing, driving the business world positively forward. The vision has never felt so close to being achieved!

Overall, our business is built on creating a positive impact with a vision to bring together the best global minds to create a business for good campaign, which will align with the UNs Sustainable Development Goals. We’re living in an era now driven by purpose, instead of profit and we want to be leading the way with this. We’ve still got a lot of work to do with this, but our eyes are set on the challenge.

Do you have any advice for companies and leaders who are maybe struggling right now?

Pause and take stock of what is happening in your business right now. Step back, maybe take a week out, or a least a couple of days to try and get some perspective. It’s an exercise that we do with our clients and internally for us as a business too. We spend the time thinking about what we would like our company to look like in the next three, five years, or even 12 months. Then we work our way back from there and reverse engineer the future, rather than trying to fix the past. I see too many executives trying to fix the past, but you can’t fix legacy, not in a fast-moving environment like we’re currently facing with Covid today.

Also, context is a wonderful thing. Look at businesses that you admire from a culture, talent, delivery, relationship perspective and talk to them. Find out what is and isn’t working in other industries and learn, trial and test in your industry too.

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