Some concepts and matters are quite complex to grasp, especially if one is not in that particular field. For this reason, it is sometimes quite handy to look at what the concept or issue is not, or why the project, idea, or strategy has not worked as well as it could. This piece below by Scott Rottmann and Thomas Roland are quite insightful as we explore how to bring about transformation within a particular department.
Why Do Transformations Fail?
Despite the evolution of corporate transformation, both Big T and Little T still have the potential to fail. In fact, corporate transformations have an alarmingly high failure rate of more than 70%, and transformation fatigue often sets in as the result of repeated lengthy, mismanaged, or failed efforts. Organizations can ensure transformation success by avoiding eight primary pitfalls.
Lack of executive sponsorship: A clear tone at the top is imperative when trying to see a transformation effort through to completion. Senior management’s buy-in affirms the transformation’s legitimacy and verifies it is not an uncoordinated, ad hoc initiative.
High costs: System redesign and new technology implementation are costly. A detailed business plan will ensure transformation efforts stay within scope and budget. Establishing a clear roadmap will eliminate sticker shock and keep the end goal in sight.
Lengthy timelines: Implementing systems, designing new processes, and training employees require significant time. Prioritizing transformation efforts and setting tangible, short-term goals will keep employees motivated and establish check-ins to evaluate progress.
Intimidating process: Announcing a full-fledged transformation can overwhelm employees and cloud priorities. Using a precise approach—aligned by process or department—will allow the organization to focus on pain points, avoid transformation fatigue, and realize a faster return on investment.
Lack of agility: The economic and regulatory environment is constantly in flux and impossible to predict. Engrossing an organization in a two-year transformation project may limit its ability to adjust quickly to changes in the market. A more pointed approach to transformation will allow the business to adjust course if needed.
Poor communication: Transformation teams need clear, firm direction around what they are attempting to install, create, consolidate, or eliminate. Otherwise, transformation initiatives can be perceived as offloads from management. Communication is not merely an array of emails, but rather tracking, managing, and communicating progress—and celebrating the small successes.
Unclear goals: A team with an end goal of reducing costs by 10% needs to refine its objective. What is creating the excess cost (or the perception of excess cost)? Cutting headcount by 20% may create short-term savings, but it can also negatively impact the long-term viability of the business.
Misaligned talent: While beneficial to have internal personnel invested in a transformation effort, it is critical to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the project team so external resources can be brought in to supplement. Internal know-how combined with fresh, external perspective will drive the best chance for transformation success.
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