Making Transformation Stick

Bob Thomas and Sarah Coleman

Organizations understand that even after all the shaping, scoping, planning, communicating, stakeholder engagement, re-structuring and re-engineering, business readiness assessments and risk appraisals; even after all the workshopping, engaging equitable and fair representation across geographies and functions, and sampling the variety of perspectives, motivations and resistance; even when the organization has settled into the new “normal” state, we still need to continue to monitor and reinforce the new ways to ensure transformation is adopted for the long-term rather than discretely discarded after a suitable amount of time has elapsed, allowing the organization to revert to old habits and behaviors.

We often use the-organization-as-a-machine metaphor to talk about business transformation. This emphasizes structure, systems and process which are certainly important: they define the physical and activity environment in which we work, how we interact with other parts of the organization, when we hand-off information or our part of products and services to the next step. This hard total operating model (TOM) is more easily implemented than soft value systems, habits and behaviors. The TOM is tangible, visible, physical and easily represented, from buildings and machinery to organograms and job families, from business processes to performance dashboards. We relate …

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I see where one young boy has just passed 500 hours sitting in a treetop. There is a good deal of discussion as to what to do with a civilization that produces prodigies like that. Wouldn't it be a good idea to take his ladder away from him and leave him up there?

- Will Rogers