What Forms Does Transformation Consulting Take?

Let’s begin by thinking about what Transformation actually means. This isn’t just a steady change, it is massively altering the paradigm of what has gone before to a future state that is very different. It is quite tricky to define clearly because there are so many possibilities.

As a result transformation consulting has to be able to deal with a variety of major components: Problem Analysis; Solution Design; Culture Change; Process Redesign and Implementation; Innovation; Risk Management; Project and Programme Governance; and more. What it doesn’t usually do is deal with incremental change nor with matters of strategy development. On the other hand the exponents of this form of consulting have to have a good understanding of these matters.

What Transformations Does it Deal With?

There are all kinds of transformation that may be covered.

For instance an organisation that is developing a completely new product line or service offering is likely to be transformed – whereas tinkering with the existing is change but not transformational. Moving location is one very obvious transformation – particularly if it is not just along the road but perhaps to a new city or even country. In that sense relocation of production would be a transformation, it is going to change supply chain interactions, staffing, training and a lot more besides. So even though the output might not appear different to the end consumer, a transformation has taken place.

Consider this scenario. An organisation has identified a problem that is disrupting its market. Does it just react by a “me too” approach or does it want to step ahead of the competition? That could involve major change and take operations into a different dimension.

How about this? A business wants to develop a proposition that is completely new, while at the same time continuing its old operations. Building a new line is going to involve new people, processes, potentially a very different culture and lots more besides.

Finally, what about an organisation that has decided to move its base of operations to a completely different model and location? Perhaps they want to operate on a dispersed platform using technology and resite the core of the operations at the same time. A complex and potentially risky sequence of events that will impact every aspect of what they do and how they interact both internally and with external stakeholders.

These are just a few examples but at the core of each is the need to be able to deal with the whole of the transformation as an entity. Granted there will be individual components that may be straightforward on their own – like moving operations onto a digital platform. However business transformation consulting works to ensure that it is the whole that gets delivered. Tech consultancies dealing with components don’t have that over-arching vision or competence.

What Can You Expect?

The first thing to expect is that you will be challenged. Don’t take this as a criticism – it is intended to drive out issues and make the planning and execution robust so that you get where you want and need to be.

As described above, transformation is all-inclusive of many areas and competences. It has to be, otherwise you are merely engaging in some degree of incremental change. Therein lies to rub – you have to be open to being challenged.

This can come as a bit of a culture shock to the boss who is used to giving direction. On the other hand there’s good reason to step back and be questioning about everything. Otherwise there is a real risk of setting off on the wrong foot or worse still down completely the wrong path.

Finally, expect to engage with consultants from the very outset – not when you have already made your mind up about the solution. On the other hand those very consultants may actually come from within your own organisation – provided they have the skills, experience and tools to do the job. This isn’t necessarily a role that can only be fulfilled by a bunch of city suits who arrive on a Monday morning and start crawling over everything!

Is it Complicated?

Actually – NO. That may sound counter-intuitive but is the truth. It also belies the myth that only highly specialised consultants can deliver. That may apply to highly technical components of the delivery – it would be foolish to imagine otherwise. However the key to getting transformation to work is being able to see the wood from the trees. It’s about understanding how various aspects tie together and making sure that the route is kept clear and uncluttered.

When Should You be Using It?

If you have never actually engaged previously in this sort of change – then you definitely need help of some kind.

That can take several forms. First to help you do proper analysis and get things structured right. This alone can save masses of headache and prevent waste of resource down the track.

Second, you may need help in dealing with the things that don’t normally form part of business as usual. For example sorting out the personal styles and cultural aspects to make sure they are properly understood in the context of the proposed changes. In our experience even medium to large organisations frequently don’t do this stuff as a matter of course. The smaller the organisation the more it tends to get overlooked purely on the basis of familiarity. Knowing people personally can obscure some of the essentials and it helps to have someone else take a look and get things out in the open.

Next you ought to consider where the creativity and innovation is going to come from. Even if you didn’t imagine that creativity had anything to do with where you want to be going, I can assure you that it has everything to do with getting the right solution on the table.

How is all that going to transition into a meaningful and robust plan that will get you to the destination? That overarching vision is called for and a rigour in planning that may not always be a factor in everyday operations. You need to own it but helpful advice is also a requirement to make sure you don’t stray off-course. It will also help to manage the agendas from other parties that have a nasty habit of derailing the best of intentions.

Finally, have you got the skills and experience to run the appropriate governance? Note the word “appropriate” this has everything to do with the context. Get this bit wrong and you end up with meaningless bureaucracy or worse.

Things to Look Out For

Consultants that don’t have the end-2-end offering. You need someone who has that entire vision and experience.

Also, don’t fall into the trap of hiring different players for different stages. The whole will break down at the changeovers and run the risk of rework as the next phase insists on redefining what has gone before. We’ve seen it happen too often – it’s a real mess.

You should walk away from consultants who arrive with a predefined solution. Predefined it may be and that apparently looks like a shortening of the timescale and a cost-saver. Don’t be fooled. Until anyone has worked out where you should be going and how, predefined solutions are merely packages sitting on the shelf in a warehouse. Which one is right for your situation remains to be determined.

We’re Here to Help You

Are you involved in setting up or running a transformation for your organisation? Then the chances are this raises some questions. We’ve always got time to listen and then advise so get in touch and have a conversation. We look forward to helping you transform in ways that take account of where you are as well as what you do. If you’d like more really useful information, then you can also follow this link.

Master Coach can be contacted at https://robwherrett.com/contact/

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