Throughout my 35-year corporate career, I held numerous leadership and consulting titles. When I reflect on my career, I realize that my core title was a transformation leader or change agent.
In nearly every one of my roles, I was accountable for a transformation. I coached and mentored leaders in developing stronger leadership styles, I cleaned up massive back logs of inventory in service organizations, and I closed out legacy processing systems making way for the new platforms.
Each of these business transformations were successful because I led them with a set of proven principles and key pillars. The business principles unique to business transformations are intended to produce successful results with developing stronger leaders, eliminate inventory backlogs, and craft strategic plans that will run off the legacy systems book of business.
The key pillars support the focus required to start and finish all of the work required to transform a business from being bogged down by chaos to running smoothly and efficiently. The pillars that I worked with throughout my corporate career were People, Process, and Technology.
The Peoplepillar has multiple facets to it so I will focus on just one at this time. Empowering people is a critical pillar to any business transformation project. Most often people are how things get done and their capacity, is both limited and unlimited. It is limited in the sense of how much time they have to complete their assignments and it is unlimited when they are empowered and educated on how to do other tasks.
Empowering people works best when the expected metrics are clearly communicated upfront. People are far more likely to be successful, when they know the targets and goals. The metrics give them a clear vision for what is expected in order to achieve successful outcomes.
Often leaders forget to outline the parameters when they empower others which can produce some disastrous situations. When someone is being empowered, they must know what is in bounds and what is out of bounds. It could be related to how much they can spend, who they can communicate with up the ladder, and what decisions they can make. Being proactive with the parameters will avoid misunderstandings.
The one thing that can make or break empowering people is caching and giving feedback. When people are empowered and given frequent constructive feedback, they are much more likely to complete the tasks as required by the business transformation plan. Coaching is not micro managing and is best done with a growth mindset that supports the development of both the leader and the worker.
Most businesses, if not all, are made up of processes. Making these processes more efficient is a pillar of the transformation work required for any business. In order to turnaround a business every process must be analyzed to ensure it is being done in the most efficient manner. Since every process has a cost, that must be evaluated as well.
The as is for the key processes in any business starts the work needed to get to the to be model. The improvements that are identified when analyzing the as is model, will drive more streamlined processes. The processes that take 10-15 steps to complete may be reduced to 7-9 steps as a result of the improvements. Streamlining the processes is a significant pillar for any business transformation project.
Many leaders neglect an essential part of the process pillar when they ignore aligning the roles and responsibilities properly to the process. With fewer steps in a process, businesses need fewer people-they can be reassigned to other areas in the business or natural attrition will cover it. Additionally, make sure the workers are on the steps that best match their skills, competencies, and expertise.
Businesses assign costs to every process and when following the principles of this pillar, they can reduce those costs. When a process is streamed and has fewer steps with fewer workers, it only makes good business sense that the costs would decrease. These saving could become profits that could be reinvested into the business.
The third pillar that supports any business transformation is technology. Technology upgrades or implementation always require a plan, and that plan is only as successful as its execution. Executing on technology upgrades is a key pillar of transforming any business. I will share three components of executing a technology plan that will support any business transformation project.
The technology plan must be clearly outlined and serve as a sub plan to the overall transformation plan. It requires a Subject Matter Expert to over see the execution of the full plan and its integration in the transformation plan. The plan requires frequent check ins to follow its progress.
The technology plan must clearly connect to the vision for the business transformation plan. Technology upgrades and implementations must demonstrate being a part of empowering the workers and streamlining the processes. Alignment will keep things on track and avoid costly mistakes along the way.
Most very business that invests in the technology pillar has done some work to clearly understand the CBA and ROI of the proposed upgrade or implementation. Losing sight of either of these could lead to cost overruns and to missing the budget expectations. Monitoring the technology plan includes keeping tabs on the costs and returns.
In my estimation, there are countless businesses worldwide that would benefit from following the business transformation principles along with the three pillars. For reasons that I can go into in another article, too many of the businesses avoid these principles and pillars and continue to run in chaos and disorder.
Some of the consequences of not falling these principles and pillars go beyond the typical stressors and could include going out of business. Leaders who see the value of adding resources to their business transformation projects are far more likely to be successful with their turnaround efforts.
The numerous successful business turnarounds that I created throughout my career, are more than enough to make me an expert in this area of business. Business leaders who are ready to leave the chaos and stress behind will see the value of adding expert resources to their business transformation plan who have been successful with the principles and pillars.