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What is Business Transformation?

business transformation change management Sep 07, 2020

Business transformation is not a new topic.  What is new and exciting about business transformation is the growing awareness that there is tremendous value in identifying and proactively managing all the up and downstream impacts a change initiative can have on people.

Have you ever experienced a change at work that you didn’t understand, only to have your boss or leaders tell you in some form or fashion that you needed to just “roll with it”? This can not only be frustrating, but it’s a clear indication that leadership views change as something you HAVE to do versus GET to do.  This distinction is super important, and I’ll get to it in a moment.

First, let’s break down what business transformation means. It’s a broad term, but it typically refers to a targeted change or improvement in an area or aspect of a business. While there are many drivers that can lead to a decision to change the current state, transformation efforts tend to focus on one or more of the following areas:  

  1. Core business – a change here would modify the products and/or services provided by your company, and could result in new revenue streams, expanded offerings, or eliminate non-producing lines of business.
  2. Operational – a change here targets the processes, products and/or services that are used by employees to run the business, with the intent to reduce costs, increase efficiency, or gain economies of scale.  
  3. Organizational – a change here directly impacts the employees who perform the work for the core business. It can result in the elimination, modification or addition of job roles and responsibilities; it can also include culture and morale.
  4. Digital – a change here targets the technology and/or systems used by employees, partners and even customers. This category is distinct because technology transformation is usually driven by the need to keep up, stay current, or gain a competitive advantage.

Business transformation is happening all the time. From human resources to IT, to finance and operations, everyone is working to improve something. That’s a component of being in business though, right? You identify a need, you meet it, and then you work to meet it better, faster and more profitably.

This also is why business transformation is so hard. There’s the constant push and pull of seemingly unrelated changes that collectively adds up to result in individual employee overwhelm. It’s also when confusion sets in, productivity declines, morale tanks, and customers start to look elsewhere. The risk is even higher in healthcare, where patient safety is a concern.

To combat this, business leaders may aggressively resource, promote and push passion projects out the door. If they can garner some momentum, then the risk of their efforts stalling - or worse, stopping - declines. The downside is that changes roll out before they are fully baked, without considering how much employees already have on their plates, and without enough buy-in from all levels. Add external pressures or tailwinds to the mix, and you’re got yourself a stalemate.

Let’s get back to that idea of HAVE to do versus GET to do change.  The reason this is so important is that the first approach is counter to business transformation. Efforts will fail, employees will leave, the business will suffer. It’s that simple. GET to do change creates buy-in, enthusiasm and a shared vision for what’s to come. It’s also how you successfully overcome obstacles and challenges that occur when you move off the beaten path.

Change is a requisite for business transformation. As I mentioned earlier, identifying and proactively managing the impact change – large or small - can have on people is extremely valuable.  It shortens the distance between current and future state, which means the transformation happens sooner, with greater ease and return on investment.  The best part? Anyone can be a change leader. And, when it comes to managing change, I firmly believe it should be left to the experts. You!

You know your business best. With the right training, anyone can take action and confidently lead change within an organization. This intentional application of both process and tools to transformation efforts is called “change management”, which I’ll discuss in my next post.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear your perspective on this article in the comments. 



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