Five Keys to Powering Your Transformation Effort

In a recent HPA blog post, we discussed how business transformations are trending, and how many organizations are engaging in multiple transformations at once. These efforts are all-consuming and hard to get right but, when executed well, they accelerate improvements in a business’s operating effectiveness and efficiency across automation, marketing, go-to-market, customer service, and cost.

Transformations offer a massive upside in a variety of organizational areas: They help businesses enhance productivity by streamlining processes, eliminating what’s not working, and optimizing resources. They also push firms to become more agile and adaptive to better roll with the punches and take advantage of new opportunities while mitigating risks.

With the right planning and process, a well-designed transformation effort sets businesses up for strategic, continuous, and sustainable improvement.

What are the keys to getting Operational Transformations right?

If your business needs meaningful evolution, HPA has found these five approaches instrumental in unlocking a business’s potential with transformation:

1. Establish a clear vision

Before initiating the transformation, establish an idea of where the business wants to land on the other side. Start by defining the desired future state and prioritizing specific goals and outcomes the effort will help your organization achieve. Having a collaborative process when choosing and sequencing what issues you tackle will make success more likely. This upfront work provides guideposts throughout the process and helps the transformation ensure a unified purpose.

Bonus insight: Even if specific goals don’t end up being prioritized immediately, keeping them on “the list” makes it more likely that people who are advocating for those goals remain engaged and committed to the overall transformation effort.

2. Loop in diverse stakeholders

Getting input from senior leaders and stakeholders is critical for any transformation. Offer them a role in choosing the high-priority initiatives and issues, so they feel invested in the work needed to achieve the intended outcomes. Bring in stakeholders throughout an organization: Individual contributors, managers, and executives from various departments and layers within an organization will have unique perspectives. Capture their insights, align, and foster a sense of shared responsibility to build a strong foundation for change.

Once you’ve determined the initiatives, decide who should lead each one. This is one of those make-or-break moments: When making assignments, don’t always give key initiatives to your favorite 3 “rockstars.” Sure, they may be highly skilled, but often have competing priorities that can get in the way of making time for the transformation.  Give them to high-potential team members with not only the capability, but also the capacity to drive them successfully.

Bonus insight: We’ve seen success when assigning people to champion initiatives outside their wheelhouse. This is effective with rising stars and potential future leaders because it gives them valuable experience pivotal to their growth. Consider using your transformation as a development tool to push people outside their comfort zone and transform your talent.

3. Clearly communicate expectations

Encourage stakeholders to make time for the transformation and paint a realistic picture of roles and responsibilities, milestones, reporting cadence, timeframes, and time commitments. This will help them understand expectations and their scope of work, so they can manage their “day job” in addition to the transformation.

Bonus insight: Communication to teams and stakeholders during the rollout of a transformation effort is core to its success. Equally important is making sure that change sticks. In Overcoming Organizational Resistance to Change, HPA Senior Advisor Alex Nesbitt walks through what’s needed to ensure your transformation is successful after rollout.

4. Iterate and adapt

Transformations are an ongoing process that require a structured approach with continual adjustments. By adopting a continuous improvement mindset, this will ensure the organization remains agile and adaptable even after the initial transformation effort is complete.

Leveraging SCRUM methodology, we often divvy projects into sprints and refine to move transformation milestones forward in shorter timeframes. Being nimble and adaptable is key, especially for operational transformation.

5. Manage change with oversight

Transformation involves significant changes to processes, roles, and responsibilities, so it’s crucial to manage modifications effectively. Who provides this oversight? A seasoned PMO is capable, but they frequently act as to-do list-keepers. While this level of project management has value, what’s really needed is to facilitate rapid de-bottlenecking by partnering with leaders, removing roadblocks, and holding owners and stakeholders accountable.

Bonus Insight: In Keeping the Change: Making Business Transformations Work, Alex speaks about ditching passive Steering Committees and instead building a powerful coalition of leaders committed to and marshalling the change.

Navigating the complexities of transformation is no small feat…

But by thoughtfully identifying strategic priorities, involving the right stakeholders, communicating expectations, adapting, and ensuring motivated oversight, organizations can achieve the accelerated evolution that is otherwise elusive.

For more on how HighPoint Associates helps clients enable successful transformation efforts, check out our Transformation Highlights.