Delivering business transformation is usually daunting enough. But increasingly, organisations are recognising that the ability to respond rapidly and effectively to change needs to be ingrained in their business model.
So how do the people who’ve been there and done it in some of the UK’s leading firms think you should build an internal capacity in managing business transformation?
“First, it’s about identifying highly creative thinkers with multi-industry and multifunctional experience, good leadership and analytical skills, experience of difficult/crisis situations and experience of delivering transformation,” explains turnaround specialist Giles Campbell.
“However, these people are very few are far between. They might not be good long-term general managers but they will bring the spark of creative commercial thinking that will be required to initiate and drive a transformation.”
Jim Gunn, BIE Associate, agrees, adding that the key is embedding disruptive thinking into your everyday business. “You have to treat transformation as an integral part of the on-going conversations within the organisation,” he argues. “It’s about realising that the success of any business transformation is to change the conversation, and that the target operating model (ToM) should be to enable continuously emerging, sustainable conversations to happen successfully.”
“You also need to think about drawing up a picture of how this approach would mature and intersect with the current transformation programme and show how key elements of the new operating model interface with and support the business and functions.”
For seasoned transformation interim Paul Seigenthaler, the key challenge is giving your identified change agents the right tools to do the job well.
“There’s really just one main piece of advice and that’s around knowledge transfer and knowledge retention,” he says. “If you really want to build internal capability you need to use the extra bodies as backfill and put your own people in the transformation driving seat. The process tends to take them out of their functional world and give them a unique opportunity to get an end-to-end insight into the business, which can be extremely valuable.”
So, the advice from the experts seems to be that building an internal capability revolves around identifying the right type of person, creating a constant dialogue of change and flexibility within your organisation and taking every opportunity to transfer skills and knowledge internally.
But, as HR transformation expert Ruth Moreland concludes, you also need to provide the right level of training and support.
“I can’t recommend strongly enough using internal or external experts to help build internal capability deep within your business”, she explains. “Don’t assume this is something that people just know how to do.”
“Develop a common language, methodology and framework that everyone can relate to and should utilise. Coach leaders how to be effective sponsors and develop change agents right across the business and functions to guide and support the change activity.
“Finally, try to develop a strong internal communications team to help manage effective communications. Review and evaluate the effectiveness of each transformation programme and use lessons learned in future.”