Written by
Changeboard Team

Published
31 Jul 2015

Transforming transformations

31 Jul 2015 • by Changeboard Team

Large-scale transformations are rapidly becoming a reality of everyday life. Instead of solely focusing on ensuring a specific transformation effort is successful, how can your organisation build a transformation capability to execute programmes regularly?

Transformational change

The rapid pace of change in the business environment and ongoing market disruptions are forcing companies to carry out large-scale strategic transformations that impact every aspect of their business more frequently than ever.

All too often, however, companies view such transformations as one-off projects, to be engaged in only when needed, and then shut down. This view is short-sighted. Such transformation projects typically fail to maintain tight alignment among their initial purpose and scope, the talent needed to execute them, and the metrics that will determine success in the longer term. These efforts are all too likely to derail quickly, as business units move in different directions or unknowingly duplicate efforts, programme requirements multiply, resource requirements increase, and senior leaders lose interest.

A capability for transformation

As the need to transform how they operate arises more frequently, companies must turn their capacity to carry out transformations into a true capability. To achieve this, they need to bring together their top leaders to pull five key transformation levers:

  • Communicating a clear purpose: Creating clarity regarding the firm’s strategy before embarking on a transformation, and aligning transformation outcomes to strategic intent
  • Engaging the right talent and resources: Ensuring that every major transformation has the right people in the right positions, and that they are given the resources — the people, funding, and technology — they need
  • Focusing on business value: Linking the programme explicitly to all sources of value creates a platform for dynamic discussions about the entire portfolio of projects in the transformation that can inform critical trade-off decisions
  • Building trust: Undertaking a transformation programme demands that senior leaders are fully aligned to the overall success of the programme, and that a cross-business perspective is embedded in the programme’s governance structures and in an empowered, involved, and accountable team of senior leaders
  • Establishing a foundation for enduring change: Leaders should aim to create an environment that will enable them to realise the transformation’s objectives by challenging and inspiring employees to change their existing ways of working

Building transformation maturity

Companies vary considerably in their ability to carry out successive major transformations. Many are held back by a variety of distractions and derailers — for example, poor leadership, change fatigue, managing to time lines and not business value. Building a fully-functioning transformation capability requires understanding just how mature your current capacity is, determining where the gaps are, and then filling those gaps to reach full maturity.

Building such a capability, however, can’t be done overnight. It requires proactive planning and a recognition by the senior executive team that the next major transformation may be closer than they realise.