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FITC CEO: Adopting innovation key to navigating business landscape

Organisations need to maintain agility, seize growth and innovation opportunities in navigating the ever-changing business landscape,  Managing Director/CEO, Financial Institutions Training Centre (FITC), Ms. Chizor Malize, has advised.

Speaking at the Leadership Workshop for the National Executive Council of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) hosted by SmartCity Plc, in Lagos, she said that adaptability is key to remarkable success in an evolving business world.

Malize, who spoke on the theme: “Leading Organizational Change and Building a Culture of Innovation”,  emphasized the utmost significance of organizational change and innovation.

“In the current landscape of disruptive technologies and ever-evolving customer expectations, businesses must wholeheartedly embrace innovation in order to not just survive, but truly flourish. Resisting change leads to stagnation and obsolescence, while embracing innovation ensures relevance and the ability to anticipate market trends and seize new opportunities” she said.

Chairman of the Board of Directors at SmartCity Plc,  Sir Ademola Aladekomo, highlighted the transformation of SmartCity Plc into a fully technology-driven entity.

He emphasised that this achievement was due to the organisation’s persistent drive for organisational change, constant reinvention, and unwavering commitment to remaining at the forefront of technological trends that shape today’s world.

Former president of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS),   Adesina Adediran, placed significant emphasis on the imperative for organizations to leverage emerging strategies to fuel growth. He specifically highlighted the criticality of technology adoption as a catalyst for innovative digital transformation.

He underscored the importance of embracing technology and harnessing digital platforms to enhance the effectiveness and reach of professional associations. This entails establishing user-friendly websites, online membership portals, and digital communication channels to facilitate seamless access to information and services.

Adediran also highlighted that building the capacity of professionals and association leaders has emerged as a crucial strategy for managing professional organizations effectively.  According to him, in order to address the technological skill gap, an increasing number of training programs and workshops now focus on leadership development, governance structures, strategic planning, financial management, advocacy skills, and technological advancements. “By prioritizing technology adoption, embracing capacity building initiatives, and investing in the development of professionals and association leaders, organizations can successfully navigate the challenges of the digital age and position themselves for sustained growth and success” he stressed.

Continuing, Malize highlighted the imperative for change in multiple facets of an organization, spanning structure, processes, systems, and culture, stating that a transformative mindset is pivotal in addressing inefficiencies, improving performance, meeting market demands, and fostering employee engagement. She added that identifying areas necessitating change is essential for leaders seeking to guide their organizations toward success.

Drawing upon the remarkable example of FITC, she revealed the organization’s astounding feat of seamlessly transitioning to a remote work environment within 24 hours after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown in 2020.

She said, “our ability to swiftly adapt to a fully remote mode of operation was not a result of foreseeing the future, but rather a testament to our unwavering commitment to innovation, and staying abreast of technological advancements in our daily organizational processes. This proactive preparedness empowered us to effortlessly navigate and adjust to any situation we encountered”.

This exemplifies the power of preparedness and the need for organizations to proactively embrace technological advancements, ensuring agility and resilience in the face of unexpected circumstances. By cultivating a culture of innovation and readiness for change, organizations can position themselves for long-term success in an ever-evolving business landscape.

According to Malize, to effectively lead change, it is imperative to possess a comprehensive understanding of the change process and its impact on individuals and organizations alike. “To lead transformational change, one must be able to Adapt, Develop, Adjust, Modify, Advance, and Innovate. These principles apply not only to organizations but also resonate with teams, families, and individuals. There are moments in our personal lives or careers when we must embrace these principles to thrive” she said.

She further advised that leaders diligently assess change catalysts and align them with organizational goals, recognizing that change is propelled by various factors such as market forces, technological advancements, and the pursuit of progress, each presenting both challenges and opportunities.

In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing world, leaders who are adept at navigating change serve as catalysts for growth, fully understanding its significance and fundamental principles. However, change may trigger fear, uncertainty, and resistance amongst employees. Consequently, Malize emphasized the crucial need for organizations to effectively address these emotional aspects which are necessary for successful transitions.

“To navigate the emotional impact of change, leaders must cultivate an environment of psychological safety and promote open communication” Malize highlighted. She underscored the importance of creating platforms that encourage individuals to express their concerns, while simultaneously providing clear explanations for the reasons and goals behind the change, and dispelling any misconceptions. By genuinely acknowledging and empathizing with employees’ fears, a foundation of trust is established, paving the way for a workforce that feels empowered and deeply engaged in the transformative process.

Malize added that effective communication plays a vital role in guiding employees through change. By establishing a connection between the change and the organization’s purpose, leaders can inspire commitment and alignment, creating a culture where individuals embody the company’s mission, vision, and core values.

She also emphasized that leaders must navigate the organizational impact of change, which may involve disruptions, realignment of roles, and shifts in power dynamics. “During the period of change, it is crucial for leaders to empower and support their employees, by providing training and resources, and creating a supportive environment that encourages experimentation and learning. By involving employees in the change process, leaders foster loyalty and commitment”, Malize noted.

Adopting these approaches will help leaders to effectively manage change, leverage it as an opportunity for growth and innovation, and create a resilient organization capable of thriving in the face of continuous transformation.

She also stated that sustaining change and innovation requires ongoing effort. Leaders must establish mechanisms to monitor progress, provide necessary resources, and continuously reinforce the importance of change and innovation. Regular evaluation and feedback loops can help leaders identify areas for improvement and ensure the sustainability of transformational efforts.

Malize further encouraged employees to embrace change, think outside the box, and maintain a positive mindset even in the face of challenges. A culture of innovation encourages creativity, agility, and adaptability. To achieve this, leaders must foster a workplace that genuinely appreciates novel ideas, recognizes the value of experimentation, and actively encourages collaboration across different departments, dismantling any existing silos.  By nurturing a culture that wholeheartedly embraces innovation, organizations can seamlessly adapt to the ever-evolving business landscape, while leveraging emerging strategies, thus ensuring their continuous growth and success.

In her final remarks, Malize charged leaders to be adaptable, creative, collaborative, and effective.By listening actively, being present, embracing uncertainties, taking risks, and building on novelle ideas, leaders can create a dynamic and engaging work environment that allows for positive changes and fosters innovation and growth” she opined.

Malize also lauded SmartCity Plc for their “Smart Parcel” innovation, which enables contactless package delivery using secure verification and authentication processes.

Overall, Malize and other experts stressed the importance of adaptability, innovation, and continuous learning for organizations to thrive in an ever-changing world. By embracing change, nurturing an innovation culture, and leveraging technological advancements, organizations can position themselves for long-term success.
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