5 steps
First PAUSE
1. Re-examine the root causes
2. Check the designed solution
3. Produce a revised plan
RESTART the Transformation activity
4. Take action and implement
5. Review the outcome

Things Aren’t Working

This may be a gut feeling or you may have considerable evidence that your planned business transformation isn’t working as expected. The question is “How will you know?” if there isn’t a reporting mechanism in place checking against the predetermined route-map.

Likely indicators may include:

  • The timetable keeps extending
  • There is no evidence of new processes being embedded in the workplace
  • Costs are spiralling
  • Budget and contingency are disappearing at a much faster rate than anticipated
  • Morale is low and there isn’t apparent belief in the outcome
  • Expected business results aren’t happening

Instigate A Pause

If you are receiving those signals then it’s time to call for a pause. You need to review what is being done and why those symptoms are showing up. On the other hand it isn’t the time to just abandon things and revert to the previous state of affairs.

1. Re-examine the root causes the transformation was supposed to address

The objective of this is to arrest any further decline in the business transformation progress while continuing to operate the business as usual. You will need to be critical of what you find and not just assume the original analysis was adequate. It may well turn out that one of the reasons why the transformation isn’t working is that it has been built on a false premise.

It is important during this stage to look not only internally (at the strengths and weaknesses) but to analyse the external environment (opportunities and threats) as well.

2. Check the designed solution

Is it still valid? Again, be critical to ensure that you are not building the wrong solution. If you should find that it doesn’t really fit the re-examination of the root causes, then instigate a new design creativity session to put forward other models of what should be done.

At this point you may well end up with a preferred solution that is somewhat different from what was being put into effect. Therefore the revised planning will now have to navigate from the earlier to the later, taking into account things that have already been completed.

This may produce a list of items that are to be abandoned as well as those that are changed and some possible new elements of the whole. Overall you need to scope out what has yet to be done. What needs changing and what is to be removed from the transformation when it restarts.

3. Produce a revised plan

This should include proper stage controls and governance to make sure that approvals are only given to things that have been rigorously planned. One of the principal causes of failure of any transformation is inadequate planning and therefore turning this around has to be robust. For more information on how to put this kind of governance in place in your own organisation feel free to contact us using the links at the end of this article.

The sensible thing is also to review this new plan against everything that is now known about the desired transformation and the route to completion. Look for inconsistencies with the organisation’s culture, its stakeholders and the business context. Are you asking people to behave in ways that they will find difficult? Does the plan include support for them to learn and adapt?

Restart Transformation Activity

If necessary you may have to change some of the personnel to map onto the revised plans for execution.

4. Take action and implement

Be prepared in the worst case to call a halt to the entire proceedings. After all if your revised analysis and related solutions cannot be brought together then there is no point in just ploughing ahead. Instead use the opportunity to be candid with everyone about what has happened and why. This can be a great opportunity for organisational learning that will stand you in good stead for the future.

However, let’s assume that you have a revised plan that is actually achievable. Make sure you communicate that widely. Let everyone see why it is now better aligned with the root causes of your pain that demand a transformation of the business. On the other hand do not hide from the fact that things didn’t go well at the first attempt. Employees are very quick to pick up on executive denial and will rapidly lose trust. Also ensure appropriate coaching and support of all staff. Without this critical step, all the planning can go to waste.

5. Review the outcome

With all the planning and implementation in place, it is now time to conduct regular reviews. This helps to identify any corrective actions that may be needed and to keep the transformation on track.

In effect, turnaround is very similar to a strategic planning process; however the first step of identifying areas of mismatch between apparent cause and symptoms is critical. Applying the above process, in consultation with a transformation expert, will not only ensure the success of the turnaround but also the opportunity to improve and build on the results well into the future.

How We Can Help

We’ve turned around more than a few major change programmes. So contact us to get the conversation started about how you can do the same.

For more insights click here.

The author Rob Wherrett can be contacted at https://robwherrett.com/contact/

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