We conducted a Q&A interview with Jess Tayel, Global Business and Digital Transformation Coach and Mentor, about business transformation, where it should sit within an organisation and the importance of value-add business transformation to an organisation. If you missed Part 1, you can view it here.
Business transformation projects tend to fail, so how can a clear strategy and a set direction affect this?
In my opinion, and from my experience, business transformation fails mainly due to one or more of the following reasons:
- A transformation that has jumped straight into execution without taking the time to design the transformation program and without a clear vision (as mentioned before)
- Solutionizing, i.e., failing to gather enough requirements to gain a good understanding of the existing landscape, followed by assuming what is right for the business, then developing a solution in isolation, and finally forcing the solution on the organization
- Not having the right transformation team in place.
- Lack of leadership commitment to the change. Leaders must be committed and believe in the change so they can convey a clear message about the change, motivate staff and provide assurance in times of stress, fear and anxiety.
- Lack of customer and employee engagement. Ignoring the human side of the change is one of the most common reasons for having a failed transformation effort
- A transformation that is cumbersome and made to be complicated is almost always confusing and loses momentum quickly.
- A continuous shift in priorities creates a lack of focus and wastes transformation effort.
How do we reinforce a focus on value throughout the transformation journey?
Reinforcement can only work and be useful if the transformation program is designed in a way that creates value. Following the question in Part 1 around the Business Transformation Building Blocks, it is essential to reinforce:
- The process of designing the transformation program
- The process of continuously tracking against business outcomes and value
- The inclusive process that fosters co-creation to ensure that solutions are fit for purpose
In many organizations, reinforcement is perceived as the “Police” of the organization taking form in:
- Steering Committees that are:
- Long and repeated
- Lacking the proposer decision-making capabilities and personnel
- Lacking the right level of details and information to ensure we are tracking business outcomes
- Measurements – KPIs that are:
- Not well thought of
- Too many
- Focuses more on processes rather than outcomes or customer success drivers
- Not driving the right and intended behaviour
- Project status reports that:
- Only make sense to those who create them
- Are too granular with not providing value
- Does not provide a line of sight to the intended business objectives and outcomes
- Are "water-melon" status reports (marked as green but, indeed, are screaming red)
Reinforcement should be looked upon as a mechanism of improvement, that is not a blame-ditching or a pointing-fingers game, keeping us true to our cause and ensuring we are all delivering value.
Why is it essential to extend value beyond the transformation to ensure it can make a long-term impact?
Transformation, by definition, is about creating a long term sustainable value across the entire organization with various degrees of intensity. This means that in order to ensure that the change is sustainable, the transformation program needs to ensure that the transformation team and the on the ground change agents are empowered, have the right skills and the right capabilities and decision-making forums to continue to deliver and sustain the change
Transformation is rather a journey, not a destination. Any transformation will have a significant element of delivery, but no successful transformation ends on a set deadline. Transformation’s ripple effects continue to ensure, through the mechanisms implemented by the program, that the transformation outcomes are monitored, sustained and continuously improving.
Transformation is putting together different cogs to give the organization leverage and unique competitive advantage it needs to drive better outcomes for its customers, employees, and shareholders.
Ensuring that value is extending beyond the transformation lifetime is as important as the transformation itself. It is important that this aspect is incorporated as a part of the design of the transformation program. Transformation should start with the end in mind and work backwards in designing the different components to then deliver a holistic and integrated program that truly serves the organization while the program is alive and after
How can organizations ensure that the transformation goals and objectives support their business strategy?
This is a question of design! An organization must put significant effort into designing for transformation before embarking on the execution of the transformation.
Otherwise, this becomes like driving an expensive car with no set destination, not knowing the roads you are driving through, reaching a place that you are not sure that you wanted to go to in the first place, while spending time and money getting there.
At the start of the transformation program, alignment to business strategy, business outcomes, benefits, current and target business capabilities is essential to ensuring that we create the intended transformation.
Lack of clarity and alignment to business strategy, makes the transformation efforts daunting for organizations and adds a layer of confusion to its already complex structure.
Aligning the transformation program to the business strategy means clearly defining:
- The Why: The objectives? The burning platform?
- The Who: Who is impacted? The stakeholders required to make this happen.
- The guiding principles.
- The change message and the change heat map.
- The desired business outcomes and benefits.
- Clearly define what success looks like for this program, our customers, employees and the organization’s ways of working.
- Assess this change against other changes that the organization is undergoing to make sure that the timing and the messaging are aligned.
- Incorporate lessons learned from other failed change efforts and understand how to address change fatigue.
- Assess changes needed to uplift capabilities
- Assess mindset changes needed.
- How do we make this transformation Lean and not complicated and cumbersome?
- Assess if we have the right decision-making mechanisms.
- Define the team required to drive this change, their skills, expertise, and character.
Another important aspect is to continuously keep an eye out on the transformation efforts to ensure that we have not deviated from the intended business outcomes, that we are consistent in our communication about the change and that we are still abiding by our guiding principles. Combined with the regular program management status tracking and progress reporting, both provide valuable insight into the real progress of the transformation efforts.
This Q&A has been split into 3 parts. If you missed it, you can view Part 1.
Jess Tayel is a Business and Career Coach, Consultant and Mentor, who helps individuals and businesses design, build, manage and achieve true success in business transformation.
She also helps business transformation individuals achieve their career goals, grow it and win contracts/jobs and achieve fulfilment.
Jess has global experience, having worked in 4 continents for over 20 years, giving Jess well-rounded, hands-on experience specialising in business transformation, PMO setup and management, program management, business process improvement, business analysis, user experience design CX, service design, business systems support, technology implementation and change management.