Transformation Essentials

In 30+ years in the corporate environment, predominately in executive roles, I have been astounded by the inability of organisations to learn from mistakes – either others’ or their own.

Despite huge anecdotal evidence of what can cause failure of a transformation strategy, initiative, program or project, companies refuse to plan thoroughly, involve the ‘right’ stakeholders, resource adequately or fund appropriately. The disappointment expressed when the benefits fail to materialise is hard to comprehend, when the deficiencies are obvious to most and have been called out by at least some. How is this?

Successful transformation has distinct top-level requirements:

  • Shared Vision
  • Clear Strategies
  • Committed resources
  • Expert Execution
  • ‘Whole company’ buy-in
  • Succinct, clear and unambiguous communication

Dilute any of these components and you will be staring disaster in the face.

Once a top-level vision has been formulated, many companies will try and offload their strategy definition to other organisations to provide the roadmap to success; this abrogation of a business fundamental won’t work. Expertise and experience should be brought in to bolster the internal resources – but not as an alternative to core capability.

An essential element of business transformation is owning the initiative – at all levels of your organisation. Don’t even start the journey without the commitment and support of all your leaders, the buy-in of all your staff and a clear understanding of what the cost and timeline will be. If your company is working on a ‘3-month strategic horizon’, i.e. our strategy is driven by the last quarter’s results, then it’s likely that any ‘strategic’ program is doomed to be delayed, diluted, destabilised or discontinued. Without clear, unequivocal backing from the entire organisation and a transformation team that works without fear of resource and funding disruption, change of scope or political/factional interference, you’re wasting your time and money.