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Transformation Processes: How to Create a System of Change

How to Create a System of Change

Transformation processes are not quite as sexy as concepts like innovation and continuous improvement that accompany digital transformation, but they are necessary. We have covered a lot of digital transformation topics on our blog recently:

Many companies are actively working on transformation projects, and the ones who aren’t currently in process are certainly entertaining the idea. To initiate any large-scale organizational change requires significant effort that has little to do with the actual result—you need to create momentum, you need to find buy in, you need to have a long-term support plan.

The point is, beyond the transformation projects themselves, you also need to create high value, repeatable processes that will get you there.

In this post, we’ll discuss how to plan and execute a major change with tips, ideas, and best practices to build effective transformation processes at the workplace.

Steps To Build Effective Business Transformation Processes

1. Translate Your Strategy Into A Tactical Plan

As discussed earlier, transformation projects typically don’t exist on their own—they are born out of larger corporate initiatives. So if the corporate strategy is to make more money from existing customers through increasing loyalty, the resulting digital strategy may include a digital loyalty program. From there you are able to break out what pieces you’ll need to make it work, such as hiring new talent, installing new hardware, and storing data.

Extrapolate this example into your transformation project to go from idea to execution.

Consider the different effects it will have on the following audiences:

  • Shareholders
  • Customers
  • Employees and coworkers
  • Partners and suppliers

2. Get Executive Buy In and Align Support

When pitching the plan to executives, remember to keep it very simple. What are the expectations, who’s in charge, how long will it take, and of course, how much will it cost? No need to explain each line item on your budget, or the specifications of your technology stack.

With the details of the plan in place, don’t forget to mobilize the executive team into action with a communications plan. Is the project allowed to be spoken about publicly? Create a calendar of suggested social media updates from the company (or their personal) accounts about the progress. Grab a few quotes from the executive that you can share internally or externally to help demonstrate support.

3. Organize and Motivate Teams

The people component of creating transformation processes is huge. Business leaders must strive to ensure all employees understand how and why the organization is changing, and what it means for their future. This means setting aside time and money to train, demonstrate, and talk with employees about the vision for transformation.

When you get your teams in place, remember that most people working on this project will also have other duties, especially the IT team. Because of this hybrid approach, you’ll need to figure out how you want to address priority issues.  

4. Launch, Review and Optimize

The process described above is not a checklist you can work through once and call it a day. Continuous improvement requires that you constantly tweak and optimize your process in the pursuit of perfection. As you see improvement in certain areas, the company's momentum can carry over to all business functions and your organization will become more stable as time goes on.

It’s important to note that each step is designed to work in coordination, not as a stand alone process.

Best Practices and How to Avoid Failure

Every organization has a unique design for their transformation processes, but there are definitely some well-documented best practices.

Know your weaknesses, but focus on strengths - According to McKinsey, transformation efforts that focus on weaknesses yield less effective results than focusing on strengths, but projects are more successful overall when both are considered.

Create systems - In the same report, McKinsey found that companies who reported using “mostly systematic” processes claimed a 72% success rate, compared to only 37% success rate to companies who reported “not systematic at all.” Your organization needs to think in systems.

Choose low risk transformation projects - If it’s your first time around digital transformation projects, or you’re looking for a winner to build confidence, why not grab the low-hanging fruit? A few examples of quick-wins are:

  • Creating processes that can go live in 30 days
  • High-visibility projects that have direct business value
  • Areas that have limited external dependency

While taking the shortcut in transformation processes isn’t the end goal, it can provide enough confidence and momentum to start integrating these processes company-wide.

In conclusion, as you look to get your transformation projects underway, or look to improve them, don’t forget about your transformation processes. By focusing on process, you can change the culture of your organization to be more driven by systems, which will increase efficiency and measurable outcomes.

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