Business Transformation is a phrase that is very often associated with IT enabled change programmes of big scales that automate business processes. The context of this article however is different. The transformation I refer to is the level of performance when processes/capabilities are improved to the point at which it can offer breakthrough levels of service to the customers and deliver substantial financial benefit.
Change of this nature does not happen because of one, two, or even three successful improvement projects. It takes a concentrated effort across the business, co-ordinated around strategic priorities. This very shift from tactical to strategic thinking requires ‘Transformation’ at all levels of the organisation.
Tactical thinking often fails to deliver strong and sustainable improvement. Tactical solutions tend to focus on ‘here and now’, have a small impact and require a lot of follow through to ensure their limited effect is completed and sustained. Tactical thinking does have its place when it comes to day to day operations and service delivery, though it is ill suited if a business is aiming to achieve breakthrough results.
Strategic thinking enables senior leadership to provide a purpose and sense of direction to drive change that translates into financial and operational impact at all levels of the business.
Simply put, it is imperative for a business to understand ‘what needs to be done’ in order to survive and/or thrive in the marketplace in the short as well as the long term. Defining these strategic priorities enables the senior leadership team to formulate short and long term objectives that need to be delivered. Structured change programmes provide a platform through which delivery of these objectives can be clearly linked to the levels of breakthrough performance a business is aiming for.
This can be achieved in the following way:
1.Understanding Opportunity – Understand the extent of opportunity available in order to make a breakthrough improvement clearly defined into short and long term objectives.
2. Planning – Once the opportunity is understood, choosing which path to take allows for better planning and control. This can be done through continuous improvement projects, targeted interventions or transformation programmes. All three approaches can be successful in the right situation.
3. Building Internal Capability – This is an area that is quite often overlooked as businesses do not realise that it takes different skills (and people!) to delivery breakthrough levels of performance. Investment in training and development provide people with the necessary skills to be able to execute these change programmes. Institutionalising project management processes allows for consistent approach and better control when executing these projects. Another important question to consider here is whether the present culture is ready to deliver the change or does it require a ‘transformation’ of its own?
4. Implementation & Delivery – This is where the rubber meets the road! Successful implementation and delivery is essential to ensure change programmes deliver the objectives that were set out in the previous steps.
5.Sustaining Improvements – Lack of focus around ensuring the benefits/improvements from these change programmes are realised and sustained is another area that is overlooked. Many a time this step requires more focus than the earlier steps to ensure change is embedded within the culture and the processes.