Safeguarding Your Transformation Project

Strategy
by Guest Columnist

When you’re just starting a major transformation of a business, it’s impossible to know what the outcome will be or what adjustments you’ll need to make along the way. However, you can take some steps to “futureproof” the project.

Peter Bendor-Samuel writes, “I recently came across an observation about parenting that I think is wisely applicable to business decisions: ‘When we make assumptions, we contribute to the complexity rather than the simplicity of a problem, making it more difficult to solve.’ It’s a trap that companies often fall into at the outset of a digital or business transformation initiative aimed at achieving breakthrough performance.

“Leaders tasked with driving the transformation are asked to plan how to reach the end-state goals in the company’s vision. But those detailed plans and road maps fail with a high degree of regularity. The problem: even though they know the destination, they don’t know what challenges await them and what adjustments will be necessary on the multi-year journey.

“Here’s how Herb Kummer, who as CIO has led transformations at several large companies, describes the situation: ‘Whatever you design today will be modified or maybe even thrown out the window in three years because the world changes. There are just too many unpredictable things that will happen on the technology side and business side that will render useless whatever you designed three years earlier.’

“As a leader driving change in a transformation initiative, you need the ability to adjust the plan quickly as the environment changes during the journey or as capabilities and decisions become clearer. I’ve blogged frequently about the necessity of segmenting the transformation journey into short sprints or phases, which enable agility and making adjustments along the way.”

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