Business leaders would be forgiven for thinking that when it comes to turning their business around, they’re probably the best person to over see it. After all, who could possibly understand their business as well as they do?

But ask the same question of experts who’ve been at the sharp end throughout their careers and you get a very different answer.

Award-winning transformation guru Giles Campbell probably sums it up in his response to the question ‘what’s your best piece of advice for leaders managing a transformation?’

“Get help”, he says succinctly.

It’s a view shared by fellow specialists like transformation interim Paul Siegenthaler, who explains: “It is always easier to understand the gaps in your plan than to know what to do about them.

“I strongly believe there’s merit in doing rigorous diagnosis work ahead of time to try and understand the differences in cultures and leadership styles within your organisation. These can be differences in ways of working or, increasingly these days, cultural and behavioural differences.

“The main things to look out for are making sure you’re not under-resourced, investing enough time and effort into communications and engagement and identifying the natural leaders early. Oh, and when you think it’s finished, it’s not really finished!”

For Jim Gunn, BIE Associate, getting the right insight in order to lay strong foundations is the key to success.

He explains: “First and foremost, take the time to shape the programme –ensure that all key stakeholders understand and support the business requirements based on engagement and direct involvement. Don’t rush into a programme based on short-term objectives.

“Then you need to ensure that you focus on the business transformation programme and short- term issues and business-as-usual all at the same time, otherwise they will run into each other and result in sub optimal use of limited company resource.

The next stage, he says: “Is to assemble a high-grade programme leadership team from within your organisation – do not accept second best resources – and make it clear from the outset, who is responsible for the “thinking” and who is responsible for the “doing”, underpinned by a clear governance and decision making model.

“All the time you should continually ensure business sponsorship, alignment and ‘skin in the game’. It sometimes helps, depending on the size and scale of change involved, to get a COO or second in commend to run the programme day to day so you can involve yourself heavily in leading the senior stakeholder management and communication, as this effort is vital.

“Finally, build an internal and external change network with clear objectives and give visibility and transparency to the roadmap and delivery status of the business case. Be honest and open about what is working and what is not.

Formulate any challenges as "wicked questions" to avoid the tendency to "assume" that certain tensions don't exist. Use the energy in these inherent tensions to create sustainable solutions.”

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