Business Transformation With the End in Mind

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When market environments or conditions shift, organizations must often make fundamental changes to how they operate in order to cope

Business transformations—which are initiated in reaction to current or foreseen pain points, such as cost reductions, capability builds or digital transformation—create a new capability or a new reality in a sustainable, consistent and collaborative way

The process should be like film making

In filmmaking, everything starts with an initial story or a vision of what the film will be about, the message it is going to send, the general purpose and so forth. I have no doubt that great film directors can actually see the film in their head before anything is spent or made.

Leaders of business transformation programs must also understand their purpose and visualize success at all levels—including the end game—before making a single change.

At the same time, leaders should have a thorough understanding of the people involved and the business processes being changed. Before executing on tactical projects, a successful transformation should first seek a clearly defined purpose and attain a solid understanding of people and processes. After all, people and processes are the binding fabric of all transformation efforts.

The People

You must understand how the change you are bringing will affect how people behave, communicate, think and do business. To me, people are the single most important aspect of ensuring a successful and sustainable transformation.

So, start by understanding:

  • The landscape: Who is involved?
  • The motives and agenda of all affected.
  • How will those affected view success?
  • Answer the “What is in it for me?” question.
  • The baseline of skills and career aspirations for those involved. If you don’t, you could set those affected up to fail when you implement a change that is not supported by their aspirations or skillset.

That should serve as a good basis to build quality engagement and communications. The goal is to create a collaborative and transparent platform to ensure that all requirements are captured.

The Process

People and process go hand in hand. You cannot understand one without the other.

A successful business transformation seeks to understand the current processes, variations, inconsistencies, pain points and interdependencies before venturing into changing systems, organizational structure or implementing a new way of doing business.

A business process to a transformation is like a compass to a ship. It ensures the business transformation team is:

  • Moving in the right direction.
  • Focused on true issues or opportunities.
  • Understanding the complexity of changing the way business is done and the interfaces and dependencies this might entail on other parts of the business.
  • Rallying the troops around processes rather than around people.
  • Using meaningful metrics to measure success.

Has your organization undergone a transformation recently? How did you ensure you were moving in the right direction?

Posted by Jess Tayel on: May 24, 2017 11:20 PM | Permalink

Comments (7)

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Thanks, It is important to know the new business to which we want to be central, to be clear the strategic objectives of the company and to know perfectly where they are going.

Very well written.

People are the pillars, that's right. What if the organization sees the people involved in the landscape as a bunch of mercenaries or as part of collateral damage.
Organization may survive, due to downsizing or reduced price paid to service organizations, vendors or contractors.

How does this impact the decision makers/board of directors or steering committee or the banks that will fund such organizations.

At any point in time. organization is bigger than the people, as without organization there are no need for people.

However, the point to achieve anything you need the following:

Organization with right processes
goal/objective or vision
Business case

There are cases where the organization is not aware that they need a capability to sustain or they do not value the need for the capability and get into execution mode with the use of "mercenaries" and claim success.

Organization maturity and individuals involved in the decision making should have appreciation of all these facts for governance.

Ability in ensuring alignment during a transformation is based on how much is passed down the ladder.

Thanks for the share and considerations.

I really like the comparison to filmmaking. To quote: "Leaders of business transformation programs must also understand their purpose and visualize success at all levels—including the end game—before making a single change."
I do theater as my hobby, and recently I’ve realized that directing a play is quite similar to managing a team. There is a initial vision of the final shape of the play, however it can (should) be modified in the creative process by the inputs from collaborating artists and actors. Directing a play is both a craft and an art, as well as project management. Moreover – each element on a play should contribute to “big picture” and conveying the play’s message.
What is often ignored in the business environment, but is clearly visible in the theater is that all people (team members/actors) have their strengths and weaknesses as well as personal preferences and constrains. In theater – you have rehearsals before premiere. Is business giving the same “buffer” for the people? From my experience – often not.

Jess, Nice article. I like the opening statement regarding market conditions. To elaborate market condition changes can be customer preferences changed, new markets emerge, global currency changes and new manufacturing and IT technologies. These challenges create opportunities for new entrants that challenge existing organizations, systems, and leaders.

Thank you!


Great job! I agree with all your sayings but I think management should share also their vision with people they work with in the quiet early stages of their plans. I mean playing the leadership card for best results.

When transforming, it is good to stop occasionally and see if we are moving closer to our ultimate goal. It may mean that your transformation has to be set up in value-adding increments to ensure you are on the right path.

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