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 November 19, 1999

New year good time to revamp organization?

As firms make final preparations to combat Y2K problems, some wonder if there is opportunity amidst the anxiety. Might companies use the coming millennium change as a theme for change in their organizations?

Management consultant Pamela Dennis, president of Destra Consulting in Boulder, says the new year can serve as a catalyst for getting managers and employees alike to think fresh about their work.

“To me, the turn of the century is an opportunity to say, `What does it mean to be moving into this new century. What’s going to be different?’ ” says Dennis.

Her firm, which counts GE, Sun Microsystems, and Hewlett-Packard among its list of clients, has seen “a couple of clients that are revamping their entire management and leadership development approach into a more effective way of managing a very different work force in the next century.”

A key theme for consultants, says Dennis, is helping firms implement processes that foster maximum use of employees’ skills. Getting workers to function as a team, even though they’re often in different locations, is a common goal.

Bob Dressler is a Louisville-based senior consultant with Computer Sciences Corporation. He says CSC is focused on helping its customers think past the Y2K computer bug and on how they’re going to implement a strategy focused on e-business.

Once the Y2K driver is gone — and for many firms, it already is — Dressler says companies will be “free to focus more fully on the emerging model, built around the Internet and e-technology.”

Patrick Perugini, director of marketing for Artemis Consulting in Boulder, says the Y2K problem has some of his clients seeing the big picture.

“Y2K was the tip of the iceberg for just inspiring companies to relook at the way they do certain things,” says Perugini. “Businesses are using our software to re-adapt their business to the e-commerce kind of business model.”

Perugini admits much of what’s written and said about the Y2K problem and how it’s affecting consulting is speculation. Still, he says that “companies are using Y2K as a change agent, as a catalyst to look at how they can re-invent their business.”

David Hannegan, also of Destra Consulting, says he hasn’t seen a lot of firms coming to him and asking for services, using Y2K as a catalyst for change. Rather he sees trends in management consulting in late 1999 as driven more by “shifts in the marketplace” that have been occurring for several years.

Hannegan says firms are especially concerned, naturally, about competitiveness. But the definition of competitiveness has expanded and includes a hard look at internal processes, such as keeping costs down and maximizing efficiency.

Being competitive also means keeping and attracting the best talent to your firm. “I don’t know if it’s a millennium shift,” says Hannegan, adding “it’s more being people-friendly, family-friendly, realizing that you need to do what it takes to attract and keep good people.”

Another trend Hannegan sees as 2000 approaches is a growth in what he terms “outside-in” thinking. Firms are thinking about “how do we redefine the business we’re in … a lot of that is, ‘let’s think bigger,’ ” says Hannegan.

Aspen Mountain, for example, might think of itself not as a ski resort, but as “a vacation experience that soothes the mind and spirit.” Managers and staff also need to see themselves as performing a service that is purposeful and valuable to others.

Part of redefining the business, says Hannegan, is “getting people in touch with (the idea that) ‘we’re not just making stuff or doing stuff; there’s a fundamental service that we’re providing that’s unique.’ ”

As firms make final preparations to combat Y2K problems, some wonder if there is opportunity amidst the anxiety. Might companies use the coming millennium change as a theme for change in their organizations?

Management consultant Pamela Dennis, president of Destra Consulting in Boulder, says the new year can serve as a catalyst for getting managers and employees alike to think fresh about their work.

“To me, the turn of the century is an opportunity to say, `What does it mean to be moving into this new century. What’s going to be different?’ ” says Dennis.

Her firm, which counts GE, Sun Microsystems, and…

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