4 Real-Life Examples of Change Management in Business

May 18, 2022

There’s no denying that we’re living in times of unprecedented change. As we discussed in a recent post, companies need to be using the latest change management techniques to build resiliency within their organizations and to keep team members on the same page.

We’ve talked about how to implement these steps, but how can you ensure that the change management techniques are successful? 

Below are four real-world examples of change management in business that will shed some light on how resilient companies have pivoted successfully.

1. General Electric

When Jack Welch became the CEO of General Electric in 1981 he inherited a company with a market value of $12 billion, and by the time he left in 1998 the company was worth $280 billion.

He accomplished this by completely overhauling the company. His gut told him the company, which had been in business for generations, needed a complete change.

The technique used is called Six Sigma, a methodology aimed at reducing defects in products and processes. By continually testing and retesting processes using this technique, GE saved a jaw-dropping $10 billion. 

The other half of the change, according to Welch, came from working on “people issues.” By assembling a team that was aligned in values, vision, and beliefs, Welch oversaw the transformation of a successful company to an international powerhouse in business.

Become a more adaptable leader by learning to manage change.

 2. Lego

Lego’s story might just be one of the greatest turnarounds in corporate history.

The company was incredibly successful for decades, never posting a loss from 1932 until 1998. But by 2003 sales were down 30% year-over-year and the company was $800 million in debt, and the company hadn’t produced anything new for its portfolio in over a decade.

In 2004 the company realized that it needed to completely overhaul its strategy and rethink the business from the ground-up. 

Lego  went “back to the brick” and focused on its core products. The result was to reduce the number of different pieces that Lego manufactured from 12,900 to 7,000. Lego also started expanding into other marketplaces, breaking into video games, physical action figures, movies, and more.

Being resilient and embracing change, Lego was able to roar back from bankruptcy and earn its place as one of the most powerful brands in the world.

3. Domino’s Pizza

Back in 2008, Domino’s was struggling to manage its brand reputation and stay relevant, but through successful change management implementation, the company started to turn around.

Realizing that more orders were being completed online, several key players convinced top management to focus on the online-ordering experience. This move differentiated them from other pizza delivery companies at the time.

The enthusiasm for going digital trickled down from the top through the entire business, and the company implemented new technology to support the changes. Text messages, Alexa, Google Home, Twitter, Facebook, and Smart TVs can now all be used to order a Domino’s pizza.

Next, the company leveraged the wealth of customer data gleaned through their ordering system, which helped them develop customer loyalty programs that continued to drive up sales.

In fact, Domino’s is still embracing change to this day; it has recently tested drone and robot delivery and is partnering with Ford on self-driving delivery options.

4. McDonald’s

In recent years McDonald’s has recognized the value of using technology to create a better customer experience. These efforts are part of the company’s “Velocity Growth” plan that’s been in the process of being rolled out since it was first developed in 2017.

Here are a few innovative ways they’ve developed new processes to transform their business:

  • Hiring teams of data scientists and engineers to back its digital change initiative

  • Using voice technology to take drive-thru orders

  • Customizing the drive-thru experience to time of day, traffic conditions, weather, and menu items the customer is currently ordering

Between 2017 when the plan first rolled out and 2020, McDonald’s digital orders increased by 23% and the company has continued to expand its digital change efforts by hiring a digital customer engagement team and focusing on areas like drive-thru, delivery, and increasing its digital presence.

Implement successful change management at work

Businesses can use change management techniques to create resilient processes and systems. If you’re ready to start developing the skills you need to lead these changes, sign up for our instructor-led “Managing Change” course.