Fall back in love with your transformation
One of the most important pieces of advice I ever received was to look at business people as people who just happened to be at work.
They carry the same stress as people at home, except this stress can be amplified by a bad day at the office or an unreasonable brief. They feel frustrated, they know tiredness, they don’t want to leave the office late and miss their little girl’s football game. They enjoy humour, and occasionally laugh out loud to confirm the matter. They don’t like to be made to feel stupid by an adundance of acronyms, and they certainly don’t want to bat back narcissist behaviour from consultants promising to revoluntise their business.
When you begin to look at business people as people not so unlike you and I, you begin to see why the human factor has such an influential effect on the success or failure of a transformation.
Now, transformations fail for a number of reasons, but there are some which hit the top ten list week in, week out. And almost all of them have people at the heart.
Do any of these sound familiar?
1. Lack of executive sponsorship
Driving a transformation effort to completion without executive sponsorship is the same as attempting to push a 30kg rock up a hill – possible, but eventually you’ll wear out, the rock will roll back down the hill and you’ll be left with a clear-up operation to remedy all the chaos that ensues. Get buy-in from your senior management. Ensure different members of your leadership take ownership for the project. And then, deliver a clear and unified message from the top down. Read more about why top down support is critical here.
2. Poor planning
Transformations rarely take place without impacting other dimensions within the business – people, process, data and technology enablement to name a few. Detailing your project plan can help get the right resources in place to keep efforts within agreed scope and budget. It can also go a long way to remove sticker shock and keep your end goals in sight.
3. Lengthy timelines without UX built in
Nobody expects a transformation to be an overnight project, but if you’re a year in and there has been no demonstrable value, the risk of the plug being pulled grows substantially. Focus instead on introducing a UX-approach. Prioritise transformation efforts that deliver quick wins and tangible results and then play this value back to your stakeholders. In doing so, you can keep your team motivated and allow different parties to tune in with the transformation at every stage of the project.
4. Lack of agility
Planning is important, but having flexibility built in is perhaps even more so. As mentioned above, transformations have a way of impacting other areas of your business – which, let’s remember, is a living, breathing entity that has to have the flexibility to change its strategy in response to internal and external factors. Change also takes considerable time, so being able to work in an agile way is paramount if you’re to keep your transformation on the right course for your business. Which leads nicely into number five…
5. Focusing too much on the now
In a world of increasing innovation and disruption, failing to future-proof your solutions and goals has fast become a “school-boy error”. Whilst quick wins such as reducing costs can create short-term savings, they can also detrimentally impact the long-term viability of the business. When planning your transformation, determine whether your solution is capable of solving problems three to fives years ahead from now, or if it will become obsolete before its been implemented. Doing so could save you time, money and years of headaches and heartbreak.
6. Poor change management
If you forget to send out the invites, don’t be surprised if nobody shows up to your party. Going ahead with a transformation requires aligning the whole of your business to one idea, and communicating this clearly across all levels of the organisation – external parties included.
An example of this being executed perfectly is Netflix. After deciding to transform the technology platform and purpose of the business, CEO Reed Hastings released an 11-page memo to employees and investors detailing a commitment to move away from being a digital content distributor, towards becoming a leading producer of original content that could win Emmys and Oscars. Since then, Netflix’s revenue has almost tripled and its profits have multiplied 32-fold.
If you’re not communicating, you won’t be transforming any time soon. People resist change, but they also buy into people. Ensuring you’ve adopted top-down support can be the confidence your team, stakeholders and external investors to buy into a multi-year transformation and help drive the success from every level of the business.
7. The wrong team
While having a full team of internal personnel invested in your transformation efforts is a desirable position to be in, they may not have the right capabilities to complete the task at hand. Equally, part-time resources with the wrong skills won’t cut the mustard either. You need to bring in resources that supplement the team you do have, and can add additional value to your existing capabilities. Internal know-how matched with a clear objective and external insights can go a long way to serving the best chance for transformation success.
When you consider that 70% of transformation programs fail* (a statistic first reported by Hammer and Champy in 1993 – goes to show that times really haven’t moved on that far…), it’s time you got to grips with what’s going well, and what’s not going so well with yours.
Maybe it’s not you. Maybe it is them. But burying your head in the sand isn’t going to solve the problem.
Much like a real life break up, if something isn’t working in your transformation, you either need to spend time fixing it, or send it down the river and look for a new partner who can give you what you need.
This here is Ben. He is one of our many DevOps & Continuous Delivery consultants, well versed at helping enterprises achieve transformation by rescuing failing projects or reigniting those that have hit a deadlock. Together, we do this by introducing a Pod-based methodology that provides three benefits in one: the rapid upskilling of existing teams, accelerated release cycles and more meaningful innovation.
With over 13-years experience in digital transformation, we can be that new partner you’re looking for. Or if it’s another perspective you’re after, we can do that too.
It all starts with a phone call.
If you could benefit from a few new ideas, reach out to someone like Ben today. Once on the phone, you’ll have our undivided attention so we can begin to understand what it is you’d like to achieve, and where you might need a helping hand to get there.
If you don’t want to commit to more than a phone call, we understand! Hopefully we are able to offer some guidance to you on the phone, or certainly point you in the direction of some useful information.
We’re not here to judge where a transformation may have gone wrong, we’re here to inject a new lease of life into your change program so you can fall back in love with your transformation and start driving double digit success.
Call us: 020 7403 0477
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*McKinsey and Company