Making Transformation Happen – Part 1

If transformation is the lifeline for businesses desperately in need of leaping beyond their current state to a place of higher value why do so few organizations achieve sustainable transformation? Why is transformation so challenging.

Let’s take a look at what usually happens.

Transformation efforts are commonly dominated by the planning and setting strategy. As you have surely witnessed anything having to do with strategy is a natural magnet for opinions, points of view, and involvement. That’s all well and good. Strategy requires input from a range of internal and external voices – from customers, analysts, partners, competitors, the product group, sales, services, marketing, finance, shareholders, and the board. But, once the strategic direction is determined transformation efforts often suffer a precipitous – and predictable – drop-off in attention, focus, and follow-through.

Why? Why do transformation efforts fall down as you shift from strategy to execution?

Making it Happen is Hard

First, the actual making-it-happen and bringing-it-to-life work is a lot harder than simply identifying what to do. Look at what’s required to achieve sustainable transformation.

  1. Your entire organization needs to be galvanized to do things in a purposeful way – a way that is often different than how things were done before.
  2. The new way requires a steadfast focus on what needs to happen.
  3. Inertia, a force more formidable than momentum, will rear itself. You need to be resolute in your commitment to doing battle with the inevitable return to how things were done before.
  4. You’ll also need to be courageously clear. Shutting down work that’s not on the transformation agenda is a lot harder than starting new things.

No One’s in Charge

Second, someone needs to be in charge, but often no one is. You don’t have a Chief Transformation Officer in your company, do you? What would such a transformation leader look like?

  1. A transformation owner/driver needs to have the executive charter to make transformation happen and hold people accountable for new behavior.
  2. Charter aside, the job requires someone who has the credibility, intellect, and leadership qualities to gain commitments from critical stakeholders across all functions of a business.
  3. A transformation leader needs to have a full grasp of the opportunity, a deep understanding of the state of the current business, a pointed plan for where it needs to go, the wherewithal to orchestrate the effort inside the organization, and the personality to motivate, inspire, and drive momentum.

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