by: Idris Mootee
Transformation is a least understood word particularly in business and strategy. Business transformation originated as a corporate management initiative with a goal to align people, process and technology initiatives at a company-wide level more closely with its new business strategy. Innovation cannot happen without any transformation. In fact, Business Transformation is pretty simple (OK they are never easy but it is about people, but most transformation programs miss this three things), it is about three things: Maximize Purpose, Creating a Bi-focal Vision and Managing Change.
Leadership is about influencing behavior. Influencing people to change customary ways of behaving is a great leadership challenge. Leadership theories emphasize the role of the leader as an agent or initiator of change. A number of attempts have been made to understand organizational change. Often, these attempts have sought a rational model with predictive value, or, at the least, some explicative value.
The idea that business transformation is achieved through efforts from alignment of people, process and technology towards a strategic end-state is missing the bigger things - people and purpose. Business transformation is closely linked to strategic innovation as any radical innovation is needed to be supported by transformation and change. Business transformation can be achieved through new technology, business models and management practices. But that’s only the mechanics. People overlook the most important element of any transformation – people. What is often missing is the art of capturing the imagination of employees of all levels with demonstrated capability and commitment to change. Business transformation is about:
Maximize Purpose. Change the game? That’s 20th century thinking at its finest - and narrowest. The 21st century is about changing the world. What does “yes we can” really mean? Obama’s goal wasn’t simply to win an election, get votes, or revitalize the economy. It was larger than that and more urgent: to change the world. Bigness of purpose is what separates 20th century and 21st century organizations: yesterday, we built huge corporations to do tiny, incremental things - tomorrow, we must build small organizations that can do tremendously massive things. In fact, the smart ones are those who understand the power of co-creating purposes. And to do that, organizations must strive to change the world radically for the better - and always believe that yes, you can. They must maximize, stretch, and utterly explode their sense of purpose. Without purpose, there is no transformation.
Maintain A Bifocal View. Seeing the horizons and simultaneously watching their footsteps. This paradox bedeviled IBM’s Gerstner when he said, “The last thing IBM needs right now is a vision.” A vision is useless unless there is a plan to make it happen and the plan needs to anchor some credible assumptions of the business and its changing dynamics. Don’t just force a vision, or leave it on the wall, manage it and continuous to energize it.
Making Change Safe. Change brings many unknowns and scary for many, people take risks only when they feel safe and supported. Leaders and followers, senior or junior management, all need something to grab onto before they will let go of the old. Otherwise there is an empty hole Nothing is as upsetting to your people as change. Nothing has greater potential to cause failures, loss of production, or falling quality. Yet nothing is as important to the survival of your organization as change. History is full of examples of organizations that failed to change and that are now extinct. The secret to successfully managing change, from the perspective of the employees, is definition and understanding. Management needs to understand their organization’s specific fears. What are the people concerned about? How strongly do they feel about it? Do they perceive it as a good or a bad thing? In any transformation initiatives, give people ownerships and a clear definition of the results they are accountable for. Then, the new way becomes the safe way.
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