Transformation

TRANSFORMATION

How do you create long-term stickiness for operational transformation?

 

Transformation projects, regardless of purpose or ambitions, have a tendency to miss initial targets defined. Often a lot of effort is invested in analyzing and designing change efforts, communicating a vision for new ways-of-working (involving lean, OpEx or other transformational buzz words) but when it comes to execution and reaping the benefits a large majority of projects fail to deliver. Managers get caught up in daily challenges, leadership shift focus to the next big improvement program and consultants have already left the building. Short-term focus on results will always lead to transformation programs missing to deliver desired improvements, and lead to even more frustration within the organization.

 

So how do you counter-act this? As all change initiatives involving human beings it is all about perseverance and making sure that the idea you want to spread in an organization is consistent at all levels.

  1. Communication. Spend time early in the project to plan for communication. Don’t just let it happen – because it will not! Successful transformation programs usually have one common component in proactive and extensive communication before, during and after the change. By investing time and resources in defining a comprehensive communication plan you will also invest time in really evaluating your concept and making sure it is clear for everyone. Also try to brand your program so it fits your corporate image, never call it “the OpEx project” but try to find a name that more naturally reflects what you want to achieve. Focus the communication on a few key aspects you want to achieve and repeat them in all communications, preferably by also involving early adopters within the organization
  2. Leadership. A strategic transformation is from a leadership perspective very much like raising children. “People will not do as you say – they will do as you do”. Make sure that the transformation starts from the top and all levels are influenced by new behaviours starting from the CEO. Involve all your managers in the change and make sure they feel accountable for securing desired results. True change will be achieved by letting each line manager drive the transformation within their own units – always use a train-the-trainer approach for all trainings to force managers to be on the forefront of change. One of the biggest mistake is to let a central function or external consultants run all trainings within the organization.
  3. Right people. Be prepared to make changes in the organization. A transformation program will fast single out individuals that do not have the capabilities to drive change. It is not unnormal to be forced to replace 30-40% of managers on all levels during a large-scale change program. Act fast when you realize you might not have the right people on board since (following #2) these are the people that will be critical to secure results.
  4. Endurance. Hold the line! Do not jump to next big thing or get swamped in daily firefighting before you have secured the outcome you are aiming for. Referencing to #2 this is especially important for top management – if they start prioritizing other initiatives this sends a very confusing signal to the organization.
  5. Celebrate success. Allow time for celebrations and make sure to congratulate publicly those who secured early wins! Include this in communications and make sure there is a clear link to the vision.

 

Pretty simple and straight-forward guidelines, but still challenging to follow during a long transformation journey. But if you manage to stick to these simple advices your success rate will increase significantly.

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