Ever popped a pill that didn’t taste dreadful and had you suspecting if it would actually work? That’s the kind of funny feeling I get when I try and explain to a colleague or a client what business transformation is about and what it is not (read: cutting costs). Whatever the snazzy headlines and best sellers might want to make us believe, the truth is simpler; business transformation is about asking relevant questions and aligning the company strategy around the answers.
6 Important Questions to Ask Yourself for a Successful Business Transformation
1. Where in the life cycle is the business or the product currently?
2. What is working well and what isn’t?
3. Where does the business rate against the competitors and what is required to maintain or gain a market edge?
4. How can the business deliver better service at lower costs?
5. Does the business have the right tools and resources to deliver the future vision?
6. Is the business incessantly innovative or risk averse?
A successful business is always transforming, it is in a state of perpetual flux; while the premise remains simple, the execution is far from it. Business transformation is not about ‘tweaking’ or ‘improvement initiatives’, it is about strategic review and following it up with a strategic and tactical business plan opening new frontiers and opportunities. It can and usually does involve hard decisions about change. These hard decisions can span all levels within the organization and thus the strategic review needs to be free from individual and hierarchal bias. For this reason, a strategic review is best performed by external experts with wider industry knowledge, exposure to best practices across varied organizations and most importantly an independent and unbiased view.
A well-crafted strategy will clearly communicate what the vision is, where the business stands today and the resultant business plan will clearly define what needs to be done to bridge the gap. Business plan is about strategic planning and aligning the people, resources and technology with the stated goals. It is not only about the decisions that need to be taken today but also the future impact of making or not making those decisions. This is where decision analytics plays a key role in narrowing down the choices available by applying science to data and related decision making.
Strategic review and formulation of business plan would be followed by:
• Making decisions about expanding, downsizing, outsourcing, hiring, investing in new technology etc;
• Communicating proposed changes and managing employee morale;
• Creating a timeline for critical decisions and actions;
• Determining resource requirement based on these timelines;
• Having difficult conversations with board, shareholders and employees.
Business Transformation = Change
Any change is painful and business transformation is all about change. There is a lot at stake with every potential change in business strategy and it is absolutely imperative that the management on-boards the right thinkers to lead business transformation, be it in the form of resourceful employees or qualified consultants.
Success is never future proof and companies need to keep re-inventing and realigning with the current realities to even stay afloat, RIM and Eastman Kodak being cases in point. It is no longer a world where markets like being dominated by few players for long; there would always be someone more nimble and more pioneering that comes along and changes the dynamics of business and competition. Business transformation is the spinning wheel that keeps you on the road by keeping the focus on not what has been done right but on what can be done better and what can be done differently. It is that not so bitter pill that actually works!