The COVID-19 pandemic stopped the business world in its tracks. As companies slowly open again, change is imminent for many.
But “change” in this new normal could be insufficient for business survival. Transformation — the execution of several integrated change initiatives — goes further. The goal with a transformation is to make changes to processes, people and systems that better align the company with its vision, strategy and changing customer needs.
Failing to see the need for a transformation, or failing to follow through on the execution of it, can make a company irrelevant compared to its competition. There were many examples before the pandemic, as numerous brands faded or folded. Some lacked the ability, the leadership mindset, or the flexibility to transform.
Now the ante has been upped. The uncertainty and financial struggles the coronavirus created have forced many businesses to reassess how they operate. Simply defaulting into pre-pandemic business-as-usual processes is risky.
Embracing sustainable transformation can lead to modernizing a company’s culture and strengthening competitive advantages. From strategizing to executing, transformation is not easy; it requires open-mindedness and common goals from leadership through to all levels of the organization.
Here are three tips to reduce the chances of failure in transformation and open the path toward success:
Expand competencies. For true transformative change, businesses and their leaders need to start growing their minds. Expanding core competencies develops a clearer view of the current work culture and how it applies to implementing new business strategy. Crafting core competencies includes recognizing the available capabilities in the workforce, and creating the qualities and skills needed for a fair distribution of roles and responsibilities. If there is a lack of a core competency, companies should hire talent for the business they want to become rather than to maintain their status quo.
Further, the success rate of a transformation can be increased by allocating time for individual and collective learning, and taking a deeper look at how to think analytically about different situations. Prioritizing learning will help the business understand problems more clearly, reflect on assumptions and integrate varying perspectives.
Back the vision with a tailored plan. Transformations flop when the plan is piecemeal or fluid. The need for transformation can be triggered by many factors, and all must be taken into account in order to develop solutions, processes toward them and measurable milestones that indicate real progress.
A plan is nothing without a detailed blueprint with clear assignments, which are needed to drive ownership. The plan consists of understanding how long transformation efforts will take, holding people within the company accountable to execute the vision, and providing a sense of all resources required.
Build people and break through resistance. A significant obstacle companies face when attempting transformation is resistance to change. A successful transformation means changing people’s habitual behaviors and aligning their skills with new processes and requirements. Leaders can help the workforce overcome fears or roadblocks with change by focusing on the human side of things. This includes building trust, adapting, making employees feel safe, handling problems calmly, collaborating and, importantly, communicating confidence in them.
The fear of becoming obsolete affects all companies to some extent. The success
of transformation efforts is vital to staying relevant and competitive. Transformation is about creating new momentum toward greater growth; for many companies that totally lost momentum, simple change won’t be enough.
Edwin Bosso, the ForbesBooks author of 6,000 Dreams: The Leader’s Guide To A Successful Business Transformation Journey, is the founder/CEO of Myrtle Consulting Group. Bosso specializes in operations improvement and change management, and his project history includes work for major brands such as Heineken, Texas Petrochemicals, T-Mobile, Anheuser-Busch, Rohm and Haas, Campbells Soup Company, Kellogg’s and Morton Salt. A wide range of assignments has taken him throughout Asia, Europe and North America. He completed his undergraduate education at The Hague Polytechnic in the Netherlands and earned an MBA from Rice University in Houston.