A colleague of mine owns a consulting firm and holds a regular round table for area CIO’s. They come from medium and large firms in the San Francisco Bay area. This month’s session is being held with a focus on Business Transformation.

Meeting execution expectations during and resulting from a Business Transformation program is exceedingly difficult. I’m going to provide them with new options on how to increase their likelihood of success. My six years with Accenture’s strategy organization and many years of leading large scale change programs has shown me how difficult ‘success’ is to achieve.

With normal projects, being on-time, on-scope, and on-budget may be sufficient. In large scale Business Transformation programs, normal operating procedures hardly apply. I’ll share some of those challenges below.

Business transformation is about achieving a new vision for the business. It is about acting on the knowledge that incremental change is no longer sufficient. It is about creating a sustainable step change where costs are vastly outweighed by the anticipated value.

Sounds good, let’s do it!
(uuhmmm, excuse me, but there are a few things you might want to consider first.)

  • Business transformation tends to affect all parts of the business directly or indirectly, and in some important way.
  • Since business transformation starts being vision based and not a regular part of day to day business, there are few agreed upon benchmarks or performance measures for people to work towards. Therefore “expectations being met” is a most realistic reflection of how success and failure will be measured. Unfortunately expectations as a measure of performance are notoriously hard to manage to.
  • Business-as-usual commitments and performance targets still have to be met while the transformation is occurring
  • To be sustainable, the transformation cannot be associated with one strong personality. It must have wide enough support that the departure or shift in attention by the top leadership won’t doom the transformation.
  • Businesses don’t transform on a regular basis. The skills and processes to transform are not regularly exercised and transformation experience is usually unevenly distributed across the business.
  • Business transformation is also about trade-offs on what to optimize. In the methodology that I’ve developed, I call these areas of optimization, “The Qualities of Execution™”. I’ll share more about this over time in this blog.
  • 45- 75 % of strategic programs fail to meet CEO expectations.

Is it possible to meet expectations in large Business Transformation program?

I would claim that it is. I would also claim that current methods and tools will almost always leave you short. I think the studies that show 45 – 75 % of strategy programs fail is a a great indicator. That is why I’m dedicated to sharing my solution to provide new options in execution. I call my solution, my methodology and tools, the Language of Execution™.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting what needs to be in place to start moving a business from Hope to Certainty as they execute a major Business Transformation program.