Why transformations fail and practical implementation tips

14 October 2020 Consulting.us

Despite all the experiences and best practices around, many leaders still struggle with successfully implementing a transformation. Why? Edwin Bosso, the CEO of Myrtle Consulting Group shares several reasons why projects can fail, and provides a number of practical tips for overcoming these challenges.

They are unaware

It is all too common for leaders to focus so intensely on high priority aspects of the business, such as budgets, sales figures and the bottom line, that they fail to take a complete look at the state of their operations. In this instance, leaders are simply unaware of shifts in their environment that should be recognized as a trigger to transform their business. I’ve spent my career guiding organizations through transformation, and I regularly see leaders who are unaware of the need to transform.

Benchmarks lead to comfort, not change

Benchmarks are a great resource for pointing leaders in the right direction. However, the mistake they often make is only looking at benchmarks that confirm what their organization is already doing. This is when benchmarks provide reassurance and comfort, but not change. Instead, turn to benchmarks that challenge your business. One way to do this is to look beyond your industry for best practices.

Edwin Bosso, CEO, Myrtle Consulting Group

In a 1996 manuscript, “Construction a manufacturing process?” Davis Gann illustrates that looking beyond one’s industry can reveal new possibilities. By studying manufacturing processes for cars and airplanes, he discovered that traditional construction could become a manufacturing process and make it possible to complete a two-story family home in one week.

The status quo is good enough

Some organizations are content with the status quo and satisfied with the methods, processes and products that made them successful. They don’t take time to step back and see potential for the future. These leaders are known for phrases like “we’ve always done it that way” and “why should we rock the boat?”

Failed attempts hold leaders down

It’s not uncommon for leaders who have failed at business transformation to believe they shouldn’t try again. This mindset, however, will never lead to growth. From the market to technology and consumer needs, things have evolved since their failures that continue to haunt them. These leaders must trust that transformation attempts in new circumstances will produce different results. Change is inevitable and leaders must step up to the challenge regardless of past failures.

Analysis paralysis blocks forward motion

Sometimes leaders seek answers but get caught up in analyzing facts and making comparisons with no real outcome. This state of overanalyzing can stall progress. Leaders who are afraid of failure may continue to overanalyze in order to avoid making the wrong decision. Others may just lack the knowledge to get them through the initial steps.

Past success leads to complacency

This may seem like an odd reason for failing to initiate a transformation, but sometimes organizations hold on tightly to the things that have already made them successful and, as a result, they fail to evolve.

Practical implementation tips

Awareness of the factors that prevent transformation efforts is the first step toward ensuring your transformation gets started. Once you’re aware and have determined that transformation needs to happen, consider these practical tips:

Initiate a semi-annual or annual analysis of resistance to change as part of your leadership routine. Equilibrium is only disrupted when forces in favor of change are greater than the forces against it. Identifying resistance to change will help you formulate strategies to overcome it. When instituted as a regular exercise, this will systematically prompt the conversation and provide the necessary structure to ensure you don’t fall victim to the pitfalls reviewed earlier.

Tap into external experts to help facilitate the conversation. A well-orchestrated facilitation will provide structure and prevent the group from avoiding discussion of uncomfortable, but necessary topics.

Recognize the difference between knowing a transformation is needed and executing that transformation. If your team participates in discussions with no real action to initiate transformation, you’ll lose credibility and miss important opportunities for meaningful change. Discussions and analysis of transformation efforts should have clear next steps.

Transformation can seem daunting and intimidating. It will come with fear, uncertainty and new challenges. However, when leaders are aware and convicted to improve their organization, it’s possible to move past the challenges, inspire the workforce and put your transformation into action.

About the author

Edwin Bosso – who lived in Ivory Coast, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Mexico, and the Netherlands before settling in the United States – founded Myrtle Consulting Group nine years ago, having previously worked fourteen years at Celerant Consulting. Last week, Houston-based Myrtle Consulting Group joined Accenture.


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