70% Of corporate transformations fail. We know why… do you?

Mar 18, 2021 | Transformation

It’s true. A stunning 70% of transformation agendas are viewed as unsuccessful. And if you’re measuring the typical key performance indicators, listening to your managers and employees with an open ear, and hiring the best subject matter experts available…then your company may be at risk, too.

Do you really know how all the major stakeholder groups within your company feel about their current leadership?

  • How about their chances for fair advancement?
  • Or, what they see are the unspoken traits the company needs, values, or, ignores?
  • How is the pace at which they’re being asked to work?
  • From where do they believe the company’s growth will come?
  • How accountable do they feel?
  • How bought into the business goals are they?
  • How well do they feel the company manages change or transformation today?

Change. Transform. Pivot. Reinvent. Adapt… Whatever the verb, world and market events are requiring our companies to be ever more agile. More and more, it appears that change is now a chronic condition, managed but not cured. How then can we embrace this and instead of struggling with the neverendingness of it all, and find ways to lean into it with a clear roadmap and even excitement about the future?

How can we incorporate the knowledge we must have to evolve successfully with the approaches we know can be successful within our respective organizations?

Related: If you have relied solely on your leadership team to steer your company to success, well, we bet it was a very long winter.

First, let’s view this process for what it really is—business evolution. Evolution is never ending. It happens organically as a natural response to introduced conflict. But this conflict doesn’t have to be a negative company experience, and it also doesn’t have to be left solely to organic chance. Instead, what if we leaned into our company’s evolution and proactively introduced—in healthy, energetic and constructive ways—the change that stimulated the desired evolution or adaptation? And managed it successfully to an outcome that all employees and leaders find empowering?

Before solving the ‘how’, any successful plan for evolution requires a clear understanding of ‘who’ your company is today. Every individual likely believes they already know this. You probably do, too. We’re sure you have a solid grasp on what you know about your employer, what you believe about those facts, and how you feel about them.

So, what’s the problem? Well, each of us only knows the view from our own pair of binoculars. The most skilled managers, leaders and HR professionals are great listeners and internal networkers, and work hard to seek other opinions from within the business to be better informed about what employees know, believe and feel about their business strategies. But this information is largely anecdotal and therefore incomplete at best. It can’t be regarded any other way. Why? Because very few companies have any way to capture this information in a thorough, statistically significant way.

If your company’s leaders knew—really knew—the answers to just these sample questions in the sidebar, think how their messaging might change. Think how needed change might be introduced differently depending on the various stakeholders’ answers. Think what behaviors might be rewarded or celebrated openly. Think what levers might be pulled that would ensure a successful evolution.

“Managers can help lead this evolution of skills within any company. Stack the deck in your company’s favor. Quantify this information through solid, data based and indisputable research.”

Evolution in nature is littered with the unsuccessful or those that did not make the right changes to evolve and survive. You read that headline correctly: up to seventy percent of transformation agendas fail. Perhaps this is in part because we are not using all of the tools available to us to better customize our efforts to various stakeholder groups, or perhaps because we made assumptions about what they know, believe and how they feel about it. Perhaps we did not “meet them where they are”.

We suggest that you stack the deck in your company’s favor. Quantify this information through solid, data based and indisputable research. Compare the results detailing what kind of company you actually are according to all stakeholder groups, with the type of company you want to be. Discuss the gaps and plan initiatives to close them. These discussions and planning efforts are much more effective when supported by insightful data and are not just anecdotal. Measure, then measure again six months later, then six months after that. Celebrate the successes and double down on how to overcome the shortfalls. Communicate what you’re learning, and what’s working and what isn’t back to the employee population and you’ll benefit further by seeing a gradual alignment of perspectives, which makes the ongoing change process even more seamless. Go on, lead.

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