“A goal without a plan is simply a dream.” – Douglas Murray McGregor
This article is the third in a series of 4 articles aimed at executives who are not entirely satisfied with the performance of their organization and who wish to significantly transform the way their operations function and increase their organizational agility.
We need a plan!
You have become aware of the potential pitfalls that await agile transformations and have obtained help to complete a diagnosis, you now need a game plan to increase the chances of success of your transformation. This article presents the main elements to be integrated into a transformation plan towards organizational agility.
Use an iterative approach, not a “big bang” approach
The big-bang approach where an organization tries to transform everything at once doesn’t work! To increase the likelihood of success, the transformation strategy must be broken down into a series of steps that will then be implemented gradually. In other words, an iterative approach is ideal to increase organizational agility.
Although the specific activities of the transformation plan may vary from one company to another depending on the findings of the diagnosis, several of the following elements are common to all transformation initiatives. Thus, the activities of the transformation plan must provide clear and structured answers to the following questions:
Have you tied your transformation to the company’s vision and goals?
In order for it to be meaningful for everyone, the transformation exercise must be in line with the company’s vision and annual objectives. When there is no direct link between the reasons underlying the transformation and the direction the company wants to take, the transformation is seen as a distraction or a secondary activity.
If the company has not established a vision, values and annual objectives, these elements must be completed prior to initiating a transformation project to ensure that they are aligned.
Is the future (post-transformation) state attractive?
In order to accept change, humans need to know that the benefits will outweigh the disadvantages of not changing. Thus, people need to understand that they will be better off after transformation than before. Your role is therefore to create and communicate a vision of the future state that is attractive and that invites employees to participate positively.
The goal of the transformation must therefore be clearly defined and presented in a favorable light to make it as attractive as possible.
Avez-vous un plan de gestion du changement?
Les notions de gestion du changement et de communication sont très souvent ignorées jusqu’à ce qu’il soit trop tard. Plusieurs imaginent encore que de simplement communiquer les bénéfices d’une transformation amène naturellement les employés à changer leurs comportements quotidiens. La réalité est complètement différente.
Sans un plan de communication et de gestion du changement, vous passerez beaucoup trop de temps à essayer de convaincre les employés d’adopter les nouvelles manières de faire.
Are expectations of employees clearly defined and communicated?
Many transformation plans do not allow employees to understand precisely what is expected of them. The plans outline the major steps of the transformation without making it clear what will change and how these changes will affect employees in their daily work.
Without a clear definition of what is expected of employees, there is a risk that employees will simply continue to do things exactly as they have been doing. Unfortunately, the transformation will fail if nothing changes.
Do you have a coalition of change agents?
People who get on board early in your transformation project are worth their weight in gold. They are often motivated and convinced change agents. As a result, they are an underestimated force of influence.
It is therefore imperative that you do everything necessary to involve these change agents in your project. Listen to them, ask for their opinion, involve them, and above all, do not stop supporting them. These change agents will be the first to face resistance and overcome obstacles. If they are not supported by the leader of the transformation initiative, they will run out of energy and once that happens, your transformation project will slow down.
Is the management structure for the transformation project clearly defined?
Your transformation project must have a well-established governance structure. A committee composed of leaders who agree to be actively involved in the project is necessary to increase the chances of success.
When the management committee responsible for the transformation is composed of managers whose main concern is to optimize current operations, they will not have the attention and interest to devote energies to addressing future structural problems. Therefore, the composition of the transformation committee must be a solid basis for the resolution of the issues encountered and for involvement in the obstacles to be removed.
Do you have a quick mechanism for making and implementing decisions?
The first 12 months of a transformation are critical. To avoid wasting time and energy, you must avoid long delays in making decisions and executing plans once decisions have been made.
When it comes to transforming your organization, time is not on your side. Chances are that new organizational priorities will continue to emerge, which could cause you to lose interest in the transformation, especially if the project is more difficult than expected. Time is precious, so you need to make as much progress as possible in the first year. Needless to say, you also want to be faster than the resistance fighters. If they are not organized at the beginning, they will be organized at the end of the first year.
Is your communication strategy well established?
During your transformation project, you will need to communicate, communicate and communicate!
Communication is always an issue when it comes to transformation. On the one hand, you will feel that it is all you talk about. On the other hand, people won’t seem to know or understand what’s going on.
Expect to get tired of repeating the same messages – that’s actually what you need to do. Communication is critical to the success of a transformation. A communication strategy is an important component of any transformation strategy.
A well-thought-out and clearly defined transformation strategy significantly increases the project’s chances of success. From an agile perspective, it is not necessary to establish in detail all the activities of the transformation plan from the outset.
Using an iterative approach, it is preferable to identify the major transformation workstreams (such as those mentioned in this article) and gradually establish the different activities to be completed and their sequence.
Some activities will have been established at the outset while others will emerge during the course of the project. Similarly, some activities will be successful while others will be opportunities for learning and adaptation.
Transformation is a gradual exercise and since humans are difficult to predict, the next article will focus on the human aspects of transformation.