Want to transform fast? Stop doing all transformations in one go.

In today’s super VUCA world, enterprises are facing a mandate to transform in order to meet the ever changing needs of customer / market. Whether it is about launching the next major phase in an organization, executing a new corporate strategy to achieve breakthrough performance, enabling a new executive leader to take charge, or integrating an acquisition—is fraught with challenges. Often we see that departmental silos, conflicting priorities and lack of aligned vision – leads to multiple transformations running in parallel creating a super busy work environment.

Let’s take an example of an organization “BusyBee Incorporation”. Suppose that Human Resources introduces a new leadership transformation program for new age leadership. The CIO has already started a digital transformation initiative to modernise service offerings and customer experience. Marketing initiates a business agility transformation to cater for all business functions in a more nimble and agile manner. Manufacturing kicks off a Lean program that will eventually touch Marketing, Sales, and Finance. IT kicks off a DevOps transformation to transform the application lifecycle. The CEO mandated agile transformation as part of the org scorecard. Finance launches a new budget model to maximise OPEX in every IT spending resulting in a new cloud transformation led by Enterprise Infrastructure Group.
[Update 19 Nov 2021] – With the renewed focus on sustainability and post-Covid trends, leaders launch Sustainability and Future of Work transformations as new shining initiatives.

The state of the organization would look something like this.


Individually, each transformation initiative makes sense, but when launched simultaneously, with no regard for strategic alignment or prioritisation, these multiple layers of activity easily overwhelm the organization. Executives who try to stuff too much into the organisational pipeline will clog it. When you start multiplying the initiatives by the areas of focus, you’ll quickly realise that without prioritisation, alignment and shared understanding, the organization would merely look busy and would not realise the full benefits of any of the initiatives.

With multiple transformation initiatives in play simultaneously, we observe following anti-patterns:

Conflicting or Overlapping Goals

When transformation initiatives are envisioned in isolation, usually we see conflict or overlap of goals with other initiatives. It not only hinders the full benefits but also negates the benefits through chocking the capacity and inducing a feeling of duplication.

KPIs driven behaviours

Related to point above, conflicting or overlapping goals may result in KPIs with direct conflict. KPIs would drive undesired behaviours and would have a larger impact on organisational health, employee engagement and customer satisfaction.

Business outcomes vs Siloed Metrics

When each transformation only focus on its own set of metrics without linking them to the business outcomes, we get suboptimal results. Metrics alone tells half the story – once you link it to business outcomes, you tend to understand the trend and direction where you want it to be.

Create a shared vision and prioritise your transformation

Organisations with a shared vision and laser focus on one or two key transformations across the enterprise, have higher chance of success in terms of business outcomes, employee happiness / engagement and cultural shift. Instead of starting all transformations simultaneously, leaders should adapt evolving strategy to craft a shared vision and prioritise highest business value. Being busy should not be an objective for modern enterprises – it should be about being relevant and ahead of the curve – which can only happen with sharp focus and ruthless prioritisation.

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