A staggering 72% of business transformation projects fail 1 . One of the reasons cited is the lack of clear understanding of the business’ and project’s vision 2 .
Every transformation project is filled with a range of initiatives from process, data, application, governance, and organisation design to name a few. Each of these initiatives will bring value to the business but it’s how the vision of each initiative is communicated and re-enforced across the organisation that will drive its adoption and acceptance within the business.
It is even more critical to communicate and re-enforce the vision when undertaking long-term transformation projects as many unforeseen challenges can impact the integrity of the project along the way. This can include anything from the vision being forgotten as employees leave the company and time pressures to challenges such as how the implemented initiatives will be integrated, maintained and governed within the business on an ongoing basis moving forward. Without the clarity and a constant reminder of the vision, stakeholders will begin to question the integrity of the transformation project.
They will fail to understand the fundamentals such as:
Why is the business undertaking this project?
How do all these changes impact my role?
What are the real benefits and value adds to me?
To alleviate these negative concerns it is important to:
Build a vision that really captures the true value of what the transformation is going to deliver
Continuously re-enforce and communicate the vision and value that will be realised so that ultimately the vision will become a reality.
This re-enforcement provides:
Commonality - Project teams, functions and employees remain constantly aligned and understand the commonality in which their work is dependent on another areas of the business doing their bit.
Touch points - Understanding the touch points vertically and horizontally between functions and departments within an organisation
Future ways of working - Understanding what people in the business are working towards to achieve.
Ownership – clear understanding of who owns each part of the transformation project and lines of responsibility. This becomes even more important during business as usual.
How do you ensure the vision is enforced?
The answer lies in communicating the vision from the top down. This is something that one of our major clients who is under-going a transformation programme has been particularly successful with. The vision has been communicated by top level management throughout the entire transformation process.
In particular they build and offer complete and targeted communication packages for different business units with the messages delivered by the Board of Directors.
The message is delivered via various mediums. These including the ‘town hall’ style roadshow – conduct an internal trade show for all employees to be informed of the vision through illustrative material which re-enforces the core vision and reminds them of why this is being undertaken, the benefits to the company and to the individual.
Now bearing in mind that it is a leader’s role to provide a vision, let me end with this inspiring thought: When former US President John F. Kennedy was on a visit to NASA, he asked a janitor “What do you do here”. The janitor replied “Mr President, I am helping to put a man on the moon” 3 - Now that is the epithome of a well-communicated vision from the top - all the way across an organisation!
1. McKinsey & Company study “Beyond Performance” and Deloitte Global Survey 2008. 2. http://www.zdnet.com/article/five-top-priorities-for-cios-in-2016/ 3. http://views.washingtonpost.com/leadership/panelists/2009/03/man-on-the-moon.html
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With more than two-thirds of companies having started major transformation projects in the past 18 months and another 10% planning to do so over the next 18-24 1 , managing transformational change is currently at the forefront of many executives’ minds.
Whether the key drivers are to deliver operational improvements through process consistency, enhance innovation to increase the companies’ footprint or reduce costs, managing these transformational projects can become a major challenge if the company’s assets are not analysed and understood. Not only does it make it difficult to ascertain where the business currently is, where it wants to go and the best routes to get there, but it can also have an impact on understanding what resources are required and how obstacles and risks would be managed along the way.
But that is not all. The change initiative could become even more challenging if information about these assets are not shared with all parties concerned to aid business as usual or programme activities.
Typically, organisations analyse their fundamental assets to gain an in-depth insight into:
What the current and future processes and function that underpin the operations consist of
How efficiently these processes are running against objectives
If there is any risks associated with these processes and what are the controls used to mitigate these
What data runs through the processes
What IT applications impact processes
How well are the processes adhered to
How these changes impact decision makers, executives, process owners and the business community.
However, simply undertaking this exercise is not enough to ensure the success of a transformation programme. This is because, although this information is important, it is what you do with it – how it is communicated and used, that adds true value to an organisation.
In reality, research over the years shows that well over half of major change initiatives fail. Kotter 2 , McKinsey 3 and Blanchard 4 put the failure rate at 70% whilst a recent IBM Corporation 5 study reports a failure rate of almost 60%.
One of the reasons for this is that organisations have not thought about how this valuable information aimed at supporting the programmes vision, will be captured and delivered consistently across the business from the offset…does the information provide an accurate representation of the organisation during the transformation project? Are process maps and models and all the other information collated in a standardised format?
The above would not only ensure that changes can be communicated all the way from top level management teams down to individual members of staff in a format so that can be interpreted unambiguously, but would also allow businesses to re-use the same descriptive information to map out alternative scenarios if the transformation project needs to change course. Overall it offers organisations greater agility to manoeuvre around any unforeseen challenges that arise while ensuring that the change initiative remains on the right tracks.
Further to this, with functions not being properly integrated within organisations today, valuable information is often stored in silos. As a result, vital interdependencies between processes and functions are left uncovered. Management teams essentially gain an inaccurate view of the business, which in turn can impact any change decision that is made.
Therefore in order to ensure that the transformation has a real chance of succeeding, organisations need a centralised platform for communications. A one stop shop for stakeholders to access the company’s asset which includes all the latest, accurate information in a comprehensive format, accessible to all users at all times from within a single location.
A strong example of this has been demonstrated by a large global manufacturer that MEGA currently works with. This manufacturer took the strategic direction to host information in one central place whilst documenting their entire Target Operating Model. They saw the entire business as a key stakeholder who should be able to leverage the asset built on a day-to-day basis through a single communications medium.
They also believed that this medium should be trickled down to the all parts of the organisation, to create a common, consistent and globally aligned organisation. This led them to make their assets inventory accessible to their entire employee establishment.
Diagram above: A view of an integrated organisation
The benefits of undertaking this approach is multifold and should not be underestimated.
For business decision makers, executives and heads of functions, it enables them to:
Take true process ownership by understanding the true scope of their processes the interdependencies with other functions.
It also helps drive operational process improvement as well as identify cross functional benefits. By having all the company processes integrated and accessible from one place it enables understanding of how the various functions of the organisation interact and communicate with one another to drive value and deliver cross functional services / products.
It provides a single point of reference containing information related to their business operation and the role they play in the overall company vision in a centralised and holistic manner. This helps employees understand what activities they should be performing, who they should be interacting with and how what they do supports the overall strategy of the business. More importantly, this open communications platform also helps all parties to understand the changes taking place and helps gain buy-in and promotes knowledge sharing and global ways of working.
For global process managers:
It delivers greater visibility on business change across the organisation. It provides a line of sight right through the organisation - from business down to technology, including what will be impacted and what changes as a result of the business transformation.
Finally, it drives consistency which eliminates concerns of data quality. Information is therefore more accurate, trustworthy and aligns much more closely to the entire business’ needs to enable fast and effective decision making.
Transformation projects are by nature filled with complexity due to the vast number of elements involved. Therefore for organisations to fully protect their crown jewels, they need to ensure that firstly, information is captured in a standardised manner to make this easy to understand and interpret. Over and above this, and where the real value lies, is in how this information is distributed across the organisation to every individual depending on role and accountability. It is this initiative that can add the utmost value and increase the likelihood of success of an organisation’s transformation project.
Are you going through business transformation? How is you information captured, analysed, standardised and communicated? If you wish to find out more on how we can help with your business transformation initiatives, please visit www.mega.com
Kotter, John P. (1996). Leading Change, Harvard Business School Press,
Keller, Scott and Aiken, Carolyn (2008). "The Inconvenient Truth about Change", McKinsey & Company,
Blanchard, Ken (2010). "Mastering the Art of Change", Training Journal, January 2010,
Source: PWC Risk in Review – Global risk in the transformation age 2013
"Making Change Work Study" (2008). IBM Corporation,
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