McKinsey has a long but great article on Leading Organizational Transformations. It’s very focused on the generic need of transformation rather than my more specific focus on digital transformation but the description of the problem and recommendations on approach make sense in both use cases.
Let’s face it, most attempts at transformation of any kind either fail miserably or fail to reach their potential. The problem lies in the single faceted approach most companies take to solve the problem.
what a good change plan should include, and opinions will vary all over the map. A CFO will insist on creating new financial measures; an operations VP, on installing a quality program; an HR specialist, on revising compensation and training; a marketing executive, on getting everyone to be more customer focused. And all these managers will have handfuls of articles to wave—and mantras of buzzwords to invoke—to defend their choices.
The problem is that a single faceted solution can never be successful. Like anything else, you need to follow a more holistic approach.
Our experience indicates that no single type of change initiative is sufficient to bring about acceptable levels of performance improvement. Though companies spend a lot of time, money, and energy on a broad-scale quality program, or a training program, or a program to refocus their organization’s culture, measurable downstream benefits—in, say, customer satisfaction or on-time delivery or cost reduction—fall well short of expectations. The inevitable result: frustration, an exhausted and increasingly cynical organization, and a deteriorating competitive position.
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So again, you should read the whole article but Steven Dichter, Chris Gagnon, and Ashok Alexander do a good job of summarizing it in one key image
What I like is that they highlight three general components:
- Top-down direction setting
- Bottom-up performance improvement
- Core process redesign
Now when you think about this from a digital transformation perspective, you will still use these three components but constrain the scope. By doing so you set the stage for success.