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Business Transformation in Disguise

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Business Transformation in Disguise

By Jess Tayel

In the quest to uplift capabilities, better serve customers, improve the bottom line or acquire market share, organizations rely on a mix of projects and programs.

Some projects are scored as critical and complex. Some organizations have a clear and defined scoring system of what is critical and what is not, while others settle for a subjective measure.

But even after you’ve determined a project is critical, there’s more to consider.

Is it Change or Transformation?

When it comes to big, critical projects, ask yourself: Are you delivering a change initiative or a business transformation initiative?

Why is this distinction important? Because they both have different characteristics that dictate how they should be brought to life.

Change initiatives execute a defined set of projects or initiatives that may or may not impact how things work across the entire organization.  Examples include introducing a new payroll system, moving into a centralized shared services model or executing an office move.

Business transformation, however, is a portfolio of initiatives that have a high level of interdependencies, leading to change across the organization. They’re focused not just on execution but also on reinventing and discovering a new or a revised business model. That model is based on a significant business outcome that will determine the future of the organization.

With that in mind, business transformation is more unpredictable and iterative, and it’s about a substantial change in mindset and ways of doing business. The “how” may not be as defined as it is in change initiatives, which means you need to try different methods and be more experimental.

Set Your Organization up for Success

Because of these distinctions, business transformation should never start with finding a solution, i.e., bring in this technology, hire this firm, change model X to Y. It should instead focus on the following:

  • Why?
    • Define the purpose and the platform of urgency.
    • Why is this important?
    • What would happen if you do not achieve this transformation?
  • Who?
    • Who is your customer (internally and externally)? Tip: Internal customers, i.e., employees, are as important as your external customers. Understanding their point of view and what impact they will have on the success of this program is critical.
    • What would that mean for your customers?
    • What competitive advantage are you bringing to your customers and to the market?
    • What changes to behavior and mindset is required to make this change a success?
  • What?
    • Define success.
    • How do you measure success?
    • What does success look like in the future? Tip: Be as detailed as possible. Tell a story of success X months into the future.
    • What are the barriers to success?
    • What are the top three risks that may affect this transformation?
    • What are the top three opportunities that you need to capitalize on to deliver success?

You may say that these questions can be part of the initiation phase. But in my 20 years of experience around the globe, I have rarely seen the above steps executed diligently from a customer centricity point of view before teams start to dig for a solution.

That said, time spent clearly articulating those elements is well spent and directly contributes to the success of the transformation, while reducing rework and change fatigue. It’s like spending time to sharpen your saw before starting to cut the tree.

In my next post, I will talk more about what is required from the leadership and internal transformation teams to facilitate and create success.

Feel free to comment below and send feedback; I would love to hear about your experiences with business transformation

Posted by Jess Tayel on: July 03, 2019 01:40 AM | Permalink

Comments (16)

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Thanks for sharing., very interesting article.

Jess, thank you for sharing this information - change management is so important and project managers are leading change in so many different industries today.


Should a transformation start with a stronger Business Analysis?

Jess, business transformation - well articulate
Start with the why, who , what.. As you rightly said these steps are never followed diligently.
Business transformation starts with people, so people impacted should know "What is in it for me ?" - This is could be the golden rule to success, as engaged people can achieve anything

Fantastic share looking forward to the next post thsnk you!

Engaging who is impacted is critical to reduce possibility of resistance to change or sabotage


Thank you for making the distinction so clear and for providing the focus questions. Great job!

Great insights on transformation Jess. Thank you very much.

Hi Jesse; Thank you for your thoughtful observations. Key to the process is establishing a process and cadence to continuously document and communicate updates and changes as identified inter-dependencies evolve and take shape.

Thank you everyone for your comments and kind words .. I am very passionate about business transformation. Currently there is a high level of failure associates with Business & Digital Transformation programs and in my opinion it is primarily because

- The people side of things is not well considered at the beginning
- The Why is not clear
- We jump to solutions rather than design for success

I would love hear your thoughts and again thanks for taking the time to read the article and comment. Appreciate it

@Vincent Guerard .. Thanks for your comment and question. Am hesitant to answer this question only because Business analysis and business analyst definition and what this role is delivering on the ground has so many dependency. Most of the Business analysts I have worked with are glorified version of a systems analysts and that is a problem.

I would say the transformation should start with people change management, Business Architecture, Service designer/CX, and a true Business analysis that is focused around process and true understanding of business capabilities, dependencies define the problem and true pain points and create a line of sight to business objectives and outcomes

I hope this is helpful

Jees - Thank you the informative Blog. Here is my feedback for further feedback and discussion. - Henry

Add question for WHY/WHAT?

• Why was the transformation initiated?
• What Lessons Learned are available from the business’ Quality Management System?
• What benefit analysis is available from previous Transformation projects?

Here are some suggested TIPs.

TIP: Measure of success should not emphasize and quantity a reduction in employees. If the business is over staffed, this requires ensuring management is effectively performing its function – this is not a transformation. Transformation will focus on how the business executes work. It will examine the existing processes, procedures, systems, work environment and resources needed/used to plan, produce and deliver a service or physical item to customers.

TIP: Cost estimates of the benefit from transformation should not cite recurring annual savings. If successful, the initial benefit will be realized after the transformation project is completed. After completion, the business’ annual metrics will change accordingly for budgeted material, labor and managerial expenses.

great insights.

Amazing read, thanks for sharing

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