“Transformation” has been a buzzword in the corporate world for decades, but very few companies succeed at achieving their transformation goals. Why is that? Some attribute it to lack of commitment, poor change management, or leadership challenges. However, the main issue is that most see transformation as a project to accomplish – a set of tasks that once completed, equate to a new way of operating. When we are talking about transformation, we are talking about a significant change to the company’s core. This cannot be done in isolation. A holistic, system-thinking approach to transformation that includes all parts of the organization and is designed in a self-reinforcing manner is much more likely to achieve desired results. This three-part series will explore the six principles of a successful transformation strategy. It all starts with a clearly defined and well-understood vision and strategy for the transformation itself.
Vision & Strategy
The importance of the vision for the transformation cannot be overstated. This is the North Star for why transformation is even needed in the first place. It provides decision-making guidance as well as inspiration to keep going when things get tough. Many people want to skip right past this stage and jump into execution. If you cannot clearly articulate why you’re doing what you’re doing and how you’re going to measure whether you’ve succeeded, then how can anyone else get aligned behind it?
The vision needs to be concise and relatable to all levels of the organization. It should be only 1-2
sentences long so it’s easily remembered. However, be careful about making it too broad to where there isn’t clear support to guide decisions or prioritization. The statement should include a business outcome focused goal that is measurable and time-bound.
Once you have a clear and measurable vision, it is critical to assess whether you already have the correct business architecture to support it. If not, what is the correct business architecture? What capabilities need to be added, matured, outsourced, or eliminated so that you have the right design for your business moving forward? It is difficult for individuals new to business architecture to distinguish between capabilities and departments. Keep in mind that while they’re closely related, they are distinct and need to be evaluated separately for maximum impact.
Oftentimes, data tends to be an afterthought or a byproduct. This is especially true when it comes to reporting. How many times have you tried to answer basic questions with data, only to find out that it either doesn’t exist or would require jumping through many hoops to get it? Although it is impossible to
think of all of the questions and requirements in advance, spend time before starting any transformation to identify what the key business decisions are that you’d like to be able to make with data, what insights you might need, and what reporting (both compulsory and informative) would be required. This information helps to design the processes and tools in such a way to ensure the necessary data is captured as timely, accurately, and easily as possible. It also helps to train your team to capture and interpret data properly. Remember:
Poor Insights = Interpretation x (Interpretation)n
The most critical aspect of data is to eliminate or reduce the organizational noise and interpretation as it moves up the chain of command. Access to instantaneous data that is relevant to decision makers at the appropriate level helps to reduce the errors made from poor insights. Critical data can start being collected even during the experiment phase using manual tick sheets to ensure the right type of data is captured in a meaningful way for meaningful insights. To protect the integrity of the data at all levels, it is important to establish and enforce appropriate data governance structures. Proper data governance clearly defines each data element, ownership of the definition and calculations, single source of truth, and quality checks/measures. The level of sophistication depends on the size of the company and the number of data elements.
In Part 2, learn about considerations around people and processes when it comes to transformations.