“The pandemic has forced leaders to get more comfortable with rapid change and pervasive uncertainty… Historically reliable processes, protocols, and mental models are being reshaped to accommodate our new normal, and has reinforced the need for agile and adaptable leadership.”

Garrett Lord, CEO of Handshake, quoted in Fortune.
It is becoming clear to CEOs and C-Suite executives everywhere that business as usual is not going to solve their problems.

Then what?

There are no clearly defined answers to this question. However, if business transformation is your chosen path, there are ways to reduce the risks and enhance your chances of success.

What is discussed in this article comes from a lot of research by various parties on business transformation successes and failures.

Keys to successful transformation

Research shows the following to be important for success:

  • Visioning transformation
  • Considering alternative transformation pathways
  • Having a good plan
  • Learning from transformation failures
  • Learning from transformation successes

Visioning transformation

Before getting into visions of what transformation means to your business, it is necessary to understand what it entails.

Transformation is not a game for the risk averse.

It is the opposite of incremental change. Its scope is organisation-wide, and when it is not, it has organisation-wide impacts.

Transformation is not mere change.

A vision is not merely a feel-good statement, but a guiding light showing the way. But going beyond the vision of the business, you need to come up with a way to help all those that will be affected by the transformation envision what that future looks like.

  • What is going to be different?
  • How is that difference going to be affecting various stakeholders – You need to address how it will impact the employees and the leadership team, shareholders, customers and suppliers.
  • What new customer segments will the transformation enable the business to reach?
  • How will it affect business results?
  • How will that affect the relative importance of existing business units and divisions within the company?
  • How long will it take to get to that vision?
  • How will we get there?

Alternative pathways to business transformation

In visioning your transformation you can go big or you can go on a minimum viable transformation pathway that borrows the concept of minimum viable products.

There are arguments for both and it opens up a good opportunity for discussion.

Going big or the Big bang approach

Arguments for thinking big, or Big Bang, is that incremental improvement is insufficient to win in an exponentially disruptive environment. The sustained growth calls for agile reinvention and merely winning today is not enough. The goal should be to get to a place where you can continue to evolve in the future.

In Thinking big with business transformation: Six keys to unlocking breakthrough value, you see the Deloitte Capability Hexagon, which offers a comprehensive approach you can use for defining and designing capabilities of your business across six dimensions.  Adopting a broader viewpoint will allow you frame and link execution to the values you have defined in your transformation ambition.

Minimum viable transformation

Business transformations are fraught with risk. For those businesses that cannot envisage the big bang approach, the minimum viable approach or transformation lite would be more palatable.

It takes a more iterative approach that focuses on in-process learning and refinement. The rapid prototyping approach we came to know through the lean startup technique of minimum viable products (MVPs) is a model for minimum viable transformations. It helps businesses commit test and learn on the go using insights generated in prototypic. It allows for double loop learning in the business model redefinition. Once capabilities are validated, they can be scaled to achieve the transformation goals of releasing new business value.

Share your thoughts

We will discuss more on keys to successful business transformation in the next article.

What approach do you think you will use in your business transformation? Big bang or the minimum viable transformation? We invite you to share your thoughts in the comments.

In this blog series we explore what conditions and factors are necessary for a successful business transformation. Our goal is to open up the discussion on how those engaging in business transformations—business leaders and consultants—can achieve their intended goals.

Read the earlier posts in this series:

Over the next few posts, we will explore: The Role of the Business Leader in Transformation Success and many more aspects of change and transformation

    1 Response to "Keys to Successful Business Transformation (Part 1)"

    • Mike Jeacock

      Big Bang unfortunately carries the stigma of that before agile methodology was applied to big transformation programmes that the vision that someone switched on new technology and it brought the National Grid down !
      Any change transformation programmes needs to focus and agree the outcomes that are required for the programme and the culture that will support this work,,, this will give you the case for change which can be communicated to ALL staff with the emphasis on answering “what will this mean for me” ,,, and then ensuring that the business requirements are given by those subject matter experts in the business at all levels and not by staff who are simply available … and then keep on communicating as agile delivery releases improvements into the business …easy !

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