Change is a constant in today’s fast-paced and constantly evolving global marketplace.
In BIE's recent research of over 100 business leaders, 82 per cent say leading and delivering step changes in how the business is conducted is their highest priority. There is a clear acknowledgement of the necessity to "adapt or die", with 94 per cent reporting that being more agile is a priority for organisations.
Enacting a fundamental change in the way your business operates can be a long and arduous journey - but the benefits to be gained are immeasurable. No business transformation is the same. However, there are four vital steps that every organisation should take:
The first stage is to scope out your change programme, informed by a strategic review to define a clear vision and strategy.
In their report, Business Transformation and the Corporate Agenda, Forbes and KPMG say: "Getting the right strategic vision is critical. This means being able to anticipate what the customer is going to want and how best to achieve it. It also includes defining the depth and scope of the changes and the redesign of internal processes and structures. Is a major transformation necessary or will a more surgical, limited repositioning be enough? Is the current state of our organization optimal for this type of a transformation?"
So what will your programme look like? What people, skills and resources will you require over time? How will you maintain your day-to-day operations? What are the potential risks and other issues? Scoping out your programme ensures that every base has been covered before you forge ahead with your transformation, and that everyone in your organisation is on the same page.
Once you’ve defined top-level, you need to plan out the details. How will you realise your vision in practice? How will you access the people, skills and resources that you’ve identified as being necessary to successful transformation?
Your journey starts with your current operating model and moves to your target operating model - and beyond. Consequently, you need to map out the best possible route and identify potential alternatives too.
Do you have the internal capability to deliver your programme or will you require the support of interims? An interim leader will be well-versed in the specific challenges of transformation and can lead the charge while your current leadership board focuses on keeping day-to-day operations working optimally. And will you need different people once you’ve reached your goal?
If you are installing new technologies, how will you integrate these seamlessly with your current platforms? And who will you turn to for help during the potentially rocky changeover period?
You know what you want to achieve and you know how you will go about making it happen - now it’s time to move into gear and get going. And this is the really difficult part.
Writing for Forbes, Kasia Moreno says: "Most companies get the vision right, but the execution is the hard part […]. In the current complex and fast-changing business climate, organizations often underestimate the significance of operating model refinements necessary to effect transformation across people, process, technology, data management and risk management components."
The fact is, no matter how well prepared you are, business transformation has a low success rate - 70 per cent of programmes fail. However, there are things you can do to increase your chances of not becoming a statistic.
It’s best practice to treat your programme as a changeable entity that you should adapt as you encounter new challenges along your transformation journey. Review your strategy and plan on a regular basis and don’t be afraid to abandon something if you don’t think it’s going to work out.
You’ve done it - you’ve successfully implemented your change programme. After go-live, it can be tempting to hang up your boots, but you are still walking the transformation path. True success comes in embedding and continually evolving your target operating model. The characteristics that defined your transformation - ambition, an open mind, determination etc. - should be a constant as you continue your day-to-day operations in a new way.
You might be interested in reading our previous post about post-delivery, for more information about this important step in your transformation journey.
Whether strategic or tactical, evolutionary or radically transformational, change is the one certainty for business leaders today. Embarking on a change programme is an important decision for your organisation and one that you want to ensure bears fruit. Taking the steps outlined above will help set you on the road to success.