Change Management in Business Transformation: Realising the 3 challenges to succeed

Successful digital and wider business transformations are not the norm. As a matter of fact, 70% of them fail. The challenges organisations face towards their transformation journey are multiple and juggling between preparing for the future and business as usual is not an easy task at all. What organisations could do to make successful transformation a more likely scenario, is to realise the three critical change challenges that could either make or break their transformation.

#1 In every transformation there will be losers

Avoiding the hard truth that some people need to reposition themselves in the organisation to be relevant, is not a sign of compassion, but rather irresponsible leadership to the organisation and to the people themselves. Failing to be clear on how the future unfolds will only create rumors, tensions and ultimately resistance from the people whose future looks uncertain. Exhibiting proper leadership means envisioning what the future holds, anticipating the change and planning for the future including how people fit in roles you don't even have today to have a place in the new structure and operating model. In practical terms, identify your losers, plan their future paths, involve them and upskill them to turn them into winners.

#2 Traditional leadership stand will not help

Alignment on how the transformation goes hand in hand with the future direction and setting the appropriate tone from the top are both equally critical to succeed, but today from a leadership’s standpoint, just not enough. Your middle management is key to successfully deliver the transformation programme and needs to be empowered by leadership to operationalise the vision with clarity to the rest of the organisation and enable speed through fast decision making. A distant leadership will expose middle management into a turbulence of difficult conversations with subordinates, demanding transformation deadlines in parallel with the business as usual, and the worst of all, create a blame game when things go off course amongst the middle management. Leadership has an active role to play in managing all of these and a traditional leadership approach being at a high level will not do the work.

#3 Don’t treat your transformation as a destination

The idea that we will deliver the transformation project and then sit back and enjoy the benefits is naive and so is this organisational mindset. Digital advancements and AI, domestic and European policies and directives, megatrends around healthcare, climate change and demographic shifts are forming external factors which impact all organisations and ecosystems around the world. Therefore, continuous reinvention and change in how we conduct business is a one way street for sustainable business and rightly so, what holds CEOs awake at night. As a result, there is a need to view business transformation as a continuous journey that constantly needs rethinking towards a viable tomorrow, rather than a destination you aim to reach.

By Andreas Papadopoulos, Workforce Transformation, PwC Cyprus

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