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Zero basing – charting the human journey

Zero basing – charting the human journey

Many challenging change journeys are non-linear and zero basing is no different. If organizations are to realize the potential to optimize costs and make investments that deliver greater value, they need to fully appreciate the human journey.

In this, the first in a series of articles, we discuss how a series of structured interventions can deliver sustainable change, by placing people at the center of zero basing.

Align stakeholders – make it clear

Leadership behavior is the single biggest determinant of effective zero basing and senior teams should demonstrate strength, passion and drive and, crucially, be fully aligned. This means defining a clear and compelling case for change that unites the entire organization.

Create transparency – make it known

Zero basing can be an emotional experience for all involved. It forces difficult trade-offs between risk and value and the right narrative balances a push for savings with an inspiring strategic vision. Fact-based debate helps take the emotion out of decision-making.

Reset costs – make it real

Inclusivity is an essential component of zero basing, to build ownership, using structured decision-making forums to achieve buy-in. The experience of a zero basing program should be empowering, instilling greater commerciality and a clearer focus on what drives value.

Design the end state – make it happen

It takes exceptional rigor and discipline to implement a completely new design for the future business. Comprehensive scenario planning enables the organization to swiftly adapt to fewer activities and people, and help ensure a stable, viable future.

Build capability – make it stick

Zero basing is not a one-off exercise. It requires sustained effort to embed behaviors and ways of working that consistently challenge how expenditure is allocated and align investment with strategic priorities. Companies should develop capabilities, supported by training and performance metrics.

Ultimately, the single characteristic that’s most difficult to pin-point, yet essential to zero based success and ever-present across all of these five phases, is the emotional intelligence of those who lead the process.

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