If you’re new to a senior leadership role, or perhaps just keen to make 2020 the year of fundamental, long-lasting change within an existing role, now is the time to consider implementing a business transformation program. It could be that you’ve been promoted and now have the authority to make executive decisions, or you may have identified a lack of efficiency in a new business you’ve joined. It could be that the company has relied on the knowledge of a few individuals, rather than effective, robust systems and processes, and there’s a gap in knowledge now they have moved on. Or it could be that those in control of the purse strings are unaware of the loss of efficiencies resulting from old, manual systems, and are loathe to invest much-needed funds to make change.
Whatever the reason, as we enter a new decade, it’s the time to think about how to implement a solid business transformation program that will lead to genuine progress, increased productivity and the opportunity to compete more successfully. Whilst cost-savings might be your primary objective, it’s also a time to think about how new systems will improve employee engagement, company reputation and streamline future growth.
The first thing to consider is the focus on the triangle: linking up leadership, strategy and culture. Unless these three factors are considered in conjunction with one another, the program will fail. But what exactly does this mean in practice?
Leadership sits at the top – it’s essential that the management team is fully on board with the process, and are strong, unified and able to steer the ship. Beneath this are the two other pillars – strategy – ensuring you have a robust plan with clear deliverables that can be reached. And last but certainly not least, culture – this is as important, and without it you’ll only fail. This essential element considers the people that work within an organisation. Clear communication at every step of the process is vital to keep employees engaged, and fully across the company’s philosophy and reasons for the change.
This all drives the intersection of the work and the people. Without this alignment, any business transformation program will be a challenge. Get it right and the process will be far smoother.
Some questions to ask yourself and those sharing responsibility for implementing the program are –
- Does your organisation know the work it needs to do and why? If they aren’t clear as to the objective and their individual role in it, you may face hurdles. If they do know what needs doing, it’s essential that they know how it needs to be done. People are always the number one key to success, so the intrinsic culture needs to be right. What are the cultural norms the organisation has become used to. And do they flow from the top? Make sure the leaders ‘walk the talk’ so that the team will be open and enthused about a transformation program, and won’t treat it with suspicion. If the leaders adhere to the ground rules, and fully comprehend what the company’s inherent culture is, respect will follow. A strong, open and honest culture, adhered to by those at all levels will encourage high performance and increased likelihood of a positive transformation process.
- Is the work linked back to a strategic imperative or is it just ‘busy work’? Is it just about cutting time doing unnecessary administrative tasks, and therefore reducing costs, or is a new system clearly connected with strategy, such as ‘break into new markets’ or ‘launch a new product’?
- Does the work contribute directly to a customer or market need, or does it enable some other areas in the business to do this? If not, why are we doing it?
For real, long term success, make 2020 the year that every tactic within the business is linked to a strategic outcome, be it solving a customer problem or meeting a market need. Make it a resolution not to be just ‘doing business with each other’ inside the organisation and think ‘bigger picture’ for longevity.
At every stage, consider the holy trinity – and make sure the leaders fully understand the link between strategy and culture, and the equal importance that needs to be placed on both. It’s no good being great with people if we can’t get work done, and it’s no good getting the work done at all costs to the detriment of the people. Neither are sustainable. A successful business transformation program is about balancing both culture and strategy, and a great leader will have the skills to drive transformation in both, and be a key player to ensure the organisation thrives in 2020 and beyond.