Currently Featured Article »

Jesse Jacoby

Many believe that organizations have to continually reinvent themselves in order to keep up with all that is changing around them. They point to the fact that those who cling to the status quo eventually die or are acquired by those who don’t, and they often – quite proudly – point to themselves as the poster child of what effective organizational change looks like.
All is not what it seems, however.
The truth is that whether organizations …

Read the full story »
Home » Change Leadership, Strategic Communications, Program Management

Ensuring Success for Large-Scale Business Transformations

Published by No Comments

CxOs are often looking for the “secret sauce” that will ensure success of their large-scale business transformation. After all, they’ve budgeted millions of dollars for the initiative, identified a team to drive the effort, and targeted tens of millions, or even hundreds of millions, of dollars in cost savings.

While there are many variables that dictate how successful a business transformation effort will be, there is a core set of success factors which is highly correlated with successful business transformation outcomes. These factors can be divided into two categories – “hard” and “soft.” The hard factors are the formal structure and process components and the soft factors are the informal behavioral and intangible ones.

Hard Success Factors

Identify aggressive, company-wide targets

  • Start with an aggressive business case for change
  • Back the business case with top-down objectives and bottoms-up analysis
  • Scope the effort large enough to push beyond business-as-usual
  • Don’t settle for less once the targets are set
  • Common Pitfall: Waiting for bottom-up analysis before declaring a target or allowing the bottom-up analysis to lower the top-down target

Establish an integrated program

  • Staff program management office (PMO) with high-performers
  • Senior managers own the program and act as sponsors
  • Manage cross-functional initiatives in well-defined phases
  • Ensure organizational change management is addressed in each phase
  • Host forums for senior management to make key decisions
  • Common Pitfall: Allowing the launch of many small initiatives owned by businesses and functions, instead of centrally managing initiatives through the program team

Focus on building future capabilities

  • Require lower costs and new capabilities to ensure the new organization can operate effectively
  • Motivate employees by explaining how you are building toward a better future
  • Common Pitfall: Focusing only on cost reduction and dismissing or deferring capability-building

Ensure eliminated costs don’t creep back in

  • Bake the economic benefits into the budget
  • Set an incentive horizon of multiple years
  • Sustain a strong PMO for at least a year after implementation starts
  • Address nonstructural organizational issues (e.g. decision rights, metrics) to ensure sustainability
  • Common Pitfall: Lack of early follow-through signals that it is okay not to be accountable for delivering results

Soft Success Factors

Strong CxO leadership & commitment

  • Create a compelling vision of the future that appeals to “hearts and minds”
  • Articulate the case for change and frame the initiative from a strategic perspective
  • Maintain a sense of urgency and keep up the pressure
  • “Walk the talk” and model new behaviors that you would like others to exhibit
  • Common Pitfall: CxO is reluctant to get in front of the case for change

Ensure senior management alignment

  • Collectively own the program and related initiatives
  • Speak for the enterprise, not just their areas of responsibility
  • Align incentives with program objectives to achieve collective success
  • Deal swiftly with senior executives who don’t get on board
  • Common Pitfall: Senior team views transformation as a “corporate project” not directly related to the success of their business area

Look for “moments of truth” to demonstrate commitment

  • Look for opportunities to demonstrate the direction of the program
  • Use the opportunities to signal a “new day” and a departure from past practices
  • Use a sensitive issue that was never formally on the table to demonstrate a change in direction
  • Be aware of and prepared to take immediate advantage of the “moment”
  • Common Pitfall: Senior management misses the opportunity to reset expectations when the moment of truth arrives

Be proactive in communications

  • Communicate, communicate, communicate – both internally and externally
  • Recognize that the most important audience is the “survivors” (those who will be around after the transformation ends)
  • Start with the connection to a strategic case for change
  • Rely heavily on management outreach
  • Ensure enterprise-wide messages, but tailor delivery to specific audience
  • Use communications to Wall Street and the Board as a “forcing function”
  • Common Pitfall: Waiting until all the answers are clear before communicating

Other articles you may be interested in:

Jesse Jacoby
The Editor of Emergent Journal and founder of Emergent, Jesse is a recognized expert in business transformation. He and his team partner with Fortune 500 and mid-market companies to deliver successful people and change strategies. Jesse is the creator of the Accelerating Change & Transformation (ACT) model and developer of Change Accelerator and Savvy Transition. Contact Jesse at 303-883-5941 or jesse@emergentconsultants.com.

No Comment »

    2 Pingbacks »

    Leave a comment!

    Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

    Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

    You can use these tags:
    <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

    This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar.

    Hide me
    Subscribe to the FREE Emergent Insights newsletter
    Email:
    Show me