Implementation Insights Blog

Implementation Management Associates help organizations around the world achieve large-scale, complex change. This blog discusses our insights into organizational change.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Two Big Questions About Transformational Change

Virtually every week we have clients contact us about their organization's efforts to implement transformational business changes. Transformational change is "business change on steroids"-- highly complex, large in scale, and mission-critical. Why is transformational change on the short-list for global businesses right now? (Question 1) And more importantly, what are organizations willing to do to position themselves to get benefit realization for transformational changes? (Question 1)

The answer to Question 1 is relatively clear. As organizations continue to dig out of the remnants of the Global Financial Crisis, senior leaders see that the competitive landscape has been altered significantly. The marketplace has shifted radically, causing these organizations to re-think their business models, identify opportunities for major cost savings, and re-structure for greater efficiencies. These transformational business changes are rational, reasonable, and required. For most organizations we talk to, transformational change is not a choice-- it is a business imperative.

Why, then, do organizations approach radical change as if it were just a series of incremental step- changes? If the organization's track record for success on getting benefit realization for small changes is moderately positive, at best, why would leaders attempt transformational change with less than a complete arsenal of weaponry? What are these leaders doing to model to the organization that these changes are, indeed, transformational changes in size and scope, and are so important that they must be approached radically differently from past business changes?

That is the missing answer to Question 2. If leaders aren't willing to demonstrate significant investment, including the investment of one of the most precious and finite resources, their personal time, then why go down the path of transformational change? If transformational change is indeed mission-critical, then leaders must demonstrate this by their own actions! What the leaders do on a daily basis to express, model, and reinforce their commitment to the transformational changes is absolutely critical.

If transformational change is approached with too few resources, no compelling story about why the change is needed, no opportunity for expressing ideas or taking risks that will drive innovation, no change in the all-important reinforcements, and limited sponsorship, then the organization is likely to get what it has always gotten: weak accountability and spotty implementation. In a competitive environment that demands more to survive and thrive, this is probably insufficient. How much money is being left on the table?

And by the way, isn't the classic definition of business insanity doing the same things but expecting different results?

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