How To Successfully Lead Your Business Through Transformation

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In the last decade, globalization, advancements in digital technologies, artificial intelligence, and changing customer sentiments have pushed businesses to reassess how they operate. In most of those cases, businesses have concluded that they needed to transform in order to continue to exist.

Once the imperative for transformation has been confirmed and a desired ‘future-state’ has been identified, the challenge starts with implementing strategy. Execution of strategy is often hindered by a lack of organizational engagement, underestimating the degree of change, and reluctance to adapt as the transformation progresses, according to a McKinsey study.

With knowledge of these challenges, the following principles will help to successfully lead your business through a transformation.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Absence of information during a transformation leads to resistance and fears about job security, which impacts employee morale and has a negative effect on organizational performance (i.e., production efficiency, sales effectiveness, and customer service). Clear and consistent communication is critical during any transformation. Share the case for change, highlighting the benefits for employees at the beginning of the transformation. Commit to providing regular updates, through emails and town-hall meetings, to allow for questions and discussion. Celebrate the successes and recognize individual and team efforts. It is equally important, according to Forbes, to share any challenges and missteps, as this will reinforce transparency and strengthen employee support.

Engage Stakeholders at All Levels

Unknown or missed business requirements can result in inadequate functionality, cost overruns, inaccuracies in operational and financial reporting, and disruption to business (CIO). This can occur when a transformation overlooks or overwrites customizations to IT systems, policies, and procedures that were implemented to accommodate specific business needs. This pitfall can be avoided by including stakeholders at all levels when defining the changes that need to occur. Breakdown the changes and have an open-call for stakeholders to identify the impacts of the changes. Through a collaborative and time-bound process, stakeholders can identify the nuances and intricacies of the business.

Be Flexible on Tactics

There is no list of the unknowns during a transformation. The only certainty is that there will be unexpected changes to the implementation plan. The need for additional funding, unexpected regulatory requirements, delays, accessibility, and scarcity of human resources are all par for the course. Response to these unknowns will require a level of agility and compromise. Build contingencies into the plan. Manage the expectations of stakeholders and be transparent that there will be unforeseen changes. The need to transform the business remains unchanged, but the path to that destination will vary. As Jeff Bezos famously stated: “We are stubborn on vision. We are flexible on details.” 

Transforming a business is a difficult endeavor. Adopting these principles can increase organizational commitment, mitigate risks of implementing change, and ensure the future state is achieved, regardless of the journey.

Nigel Taklalsingh | Contributing Writer

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