Transformation Horrors!

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Today is Halloween (Boo!), so I thought it would be fitting to share some scaaaary reasons why Transformations can go very wrong.  Change is hard and since a Transformation is a significant change, it is even harder.  It takes time.  It cannot happen overnight, or even in 12 to 18 months, it WILL take three to five years no matter how many resources you throw at it.  Transformation requires visible executive support not just lip service.  It also requires leaders with a particular set of skills and competencies to drive the change AND ensure Adoption which you may not necessarily have in house.  Most importantly, Transformation must be focused on a set of Value Drivers (we call them Stakeholder Value Drivers “SVD”s) that are defined by the “customers” you serve.  Sound easy and straightforward?  It’s not!

We started publishing a Top 10  list over two decades ago and what’s really scaaary for me is that this list is as relevant today as it was back then.

Top 10 Reasons Change Initiatives Fail:

  1. The Voice of the Customer is absent
  2. Lack of a clear vision
  3. Decision processes not clearly defined
  4. Failure to deliver early, tangible results
  5. Everything is high priority
  6. Old performance measures block change
  7. “What’s in it for me” is unclear
  8.  Sr. management wants to help – doesn’t know how
  9. Same resources, same old processes
  10. Lack of a clear requirement to change

If I were asked today – “What are the biggest obstacles to making a Transformation sustainable”,  it really boils down to this:

  1. The Voice of the Customer is absent  – this is Number One
  2. The recommended solution did not meet the Value Drivers of the customer, therefore there was not incentive for the customer to adopt the recommendations
  3.  Lack of Executive alignment / support

 In addition, here are some of the recurring themes that we have experienced over the last two decades of being part of Transformations and we consider them to be “Next Practices:

Successful Launch:  The success of the Transformation is rooted in its’ launch.  Getting off on the right foot is critical to any successful initiative. 

Needed Competencies:  The focus of the organization must shift to Strategic Competencies (consulting & facilitation, communication, collaboration, change management, et.)  because those are the ones that have a far, far greater influence on delivering Value to customers.

Focus on Value Drivers:  if solely defined by the customers, these are a powerful construct that we introduced and have been proving in many client engagements.

Ensure Higher Adoption:  Typical innovations (Transformations) deliver less than 10% of their designed or intended Value!!  We have helped many shared service clients deliver higher value through adoption of Adoption as a key driver in their function.  By going all the way back to how investment decisions were being made to changing their PMO and project management and System development methodology to when and how they were measuring the success of their projects.

Predictable & Inevitable:  Almost all issues and challenges faced by all Transformations are both Predictable (we can accurately predict what they are going to be) & Inevitable (they are almost guaranteed to occur).  The longer you wait to tackle them or if you wait until they occur, the significantly higher the “cost” to deal with them.  Start dealing with them as part of the Launch and constantly update them. 

Change Management:  While it has now become common for all to include Change Management as part of their solution, we have been known to be one of the early pioneers of Change Management when it was not a widely recognized term and was relegated to the “touchy feely” world. 

If you are in the midst of a major Transformation or getting ready to go down that path, please note some of the scaaary challenges noted above.  My hope is that your Transformation is more of a treat and less of a trick.  Happy Halloween!

Let us know what you think and join in the conversation . . . . . 

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Anne Kohler
Anne has been leading consulting and financial management organizations for over 25 years. She has extensive expertise in Strategic Sourcing, change management, contracting & contract management (both the buy side and sell side) organizational design and supply chain management. Anne has a passion for collaborating and educating her clients while helping them to uncover hidden value in their organizations. In addition, Anne has been named by Supply & Demand Chain Executive as a “Top 100 Provider Pro to Know” every year since 2007 and a 2013 Top Female Supply Chain executive.
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