Many companies (or most companies I should say) use the term “Business Transformation” very freely… almost carlessly. To use this term it is very important to understant what it means. “Business Transformation” means change, adapt, do things in a different way so your business can continue working in a changing environment, changes that will impact in the operating results. Any other use of the term will be false. There are companies that try to “follow the hype”, sending messages to the market that they are changing, evolutioning, evolving in a never ending business transformation…let me say NO. What they are doing is accomodating their views to something that could be resembled in the market to a possible modernisation, nothing else…but that is not transformation. There is also another myth: “Business Transformation” is NOT an “IT thing”. It is a “company thing” as we will see now since technology or IT may play a very small part of the transformation, or even none in some occasions.
There are, at a minimum, three stages in your business transformation that you must accomplished, any other thing will not be transformation as such:
- Change of mentality.
- Change and / or review of processes.
- Change and / or review of technology.
We´ll go deeper in these three stages so companies can do an honest check whether they are doing it.
Change of Mentality
It is always said that if you want to get different results you must do things in a different way. So, doing things in a different way means that you have to think differently. How do you accomplish this? I´d say this is, by far, the most difficult and challenging step in every business transformation. It is challengin for some people that have been doing the same for ages to think differently. CEOs and presidents can not expect people to change from one day to another. Firstly, they have to influence this change, they will have to “nurture” this change helping the valuable employees. Whether it is with training, coaching or “open” sessions it depends on the company and the results they want to achieve. Needless to say HR has here a lot (if not all) to say as the business transformation should include a HR plan to induct and guide people towards this transformation. But, once again, change and desire to change has to be promoted from the top to the bottom and lead by example. If those at the top do not want to change and expect everybody else to do it I can tell you that failure will be the only goal achieved.
Obviously, decitions have to be made and, in some occasions, will be painful to take. If you want (need) to change how people work and you need them to change their mentality, you many find that some will not want to change. It is very difficult for some people to come out of the comfort zone and will be resiliant to the change, regardless of the efforts put. Sadly, at this point, the company will have to evaluate whether they want to keep those “obstacling” employees in the payrole as they may need to be replaced by people that will be more adapted to the new situation in the company. If people dont want to change you will have to change the people, as “simple” as that.
Change of Processes
As mentioned before, you can not change the results if you dont change they way you do it. A thorough review of the processes of the company has to be made. What I´ve found in companies that I´ve worked for is, when we were at this point, people would not think that there was an improvement to be made: everything was working and the company was obtaining results, so why should they change the way they work? Simple, because you have never thought that your company could improve by the simple fact that reviewing how you work can achieve better results. You probably dont have indicators (KPIs) of how you process is working, so the first step to improve something is to measure it. Just with this simple step you are bound to improve.
Secondly, a process is not owned by a department. It is a process of the company so, probably, during the same process there are chances that different departments will have something to say. When you sit down together differente departments to work out how a process should be you will realize how things have to change. I dont want to finger-point at any one but if you hear noise all the time how other department is doing whatever activity and someone else has to “clear the mess” afterwards, there is a good point to start with. Improvement is not about fixing something that is broken when you inheretege whatever action in a process. Improvement and agility is gained if possible problems are fixed in origen. That is what really adds value to the business, get rid of unnecesary activities if everything is done in origin so you dont have to waste time reviewing or fixing at a later stage. These activities consume time and money adding nothing (or costing a lot of money in some cases ) to the value chain in the company.
Change of Technology
This is where most people get it wrong: Thinking that a change of technology will insufflate the neccesary change and power into the business to be considered as “Business Transformation”. Let me clear this for you: Technology means nothing without a purpose. Dont look into changing your technology if:
- We dont know what we want to achieve (as business goals).
- We dont review how people want to work and how the new state of mind will operate (through the change of mentality).
- We dont assess how we are doing things in the company and study the needed changes (as not always there is a need of technology to improve your processes)
If you dont do any of the aforementioned then dont bother with technology. If you introduce technology in a bad process, you will still obtain the same bad output of that process, but faster. Dont waste your time, money and resources.
Single point of focus…to start with.
If I had to focus in just one point to start with, it would be the “Change of Mentality”. At the end of the day, it does not matter what you do, you rely on people for the success of your company. If people does not want to change little to none possibilities of success you will have in your business transformation.