As much as we like to think that a Big Bang approach to solving any problem is the quickest, easiest way to address change, sometimes it’s not quite so simple. And when we’re talking about business turnaround, finding the balance between action, baby steps and apathy, can by quite often be a tricky exercise. “We are living in interesting times, with multiple transformation triggers all present at the same time, all equally intense,” says Robert T. Vanderwerf, Transformation Strategy Leader at KPMG LLP. He adds that, “when four or five significant drivers are changing at the same time, the business environment becomes highly complex.”

And although sometimes it’s far too easy to become entrenched in a bigger picture that quickly sucks out all hope of restoration, quite often, affecting change could come from simply keeping your eyes on a vision, keeping your team focussed, and plugging away at fixing what needs to be fixed – making decisions without sway, admitting to areas requiring improvements without pride, and changing the course of your organisation, one team-member, one function, one office, one building, at a time.

In this blog, we look at 5 ways that you can effect transformation today, without having to re-build the entire ship in one.

Take a Broad View on your Customer Demand

You (your business, your product, you service, your teams) exist to solve a problem for your customer. Think on that for a second. You’re not there because they want to buy a product. You’re there because the product you have, solves a problem for them. And if your business focus has lost sight of that, well, then you’ve probably your Step 1.

Suffice to say, your business transformation plans and actions should be closely aligned with your customers’ needs. In fact, running a business that is ready for tomorrow means that you need to be able to anticipate, not just satisfyyour customers’ demands, says Kasia Moreno, thought leader and contributor to Forbes. In fact, customer demand is one of the leading triggers of business transformation, according to the Forbes Insight s/ KPMG report “Business Transformation and the Corporate Agenda


The Right Strategic Vision, backed by a Solid Culture that Supports

A lot get’s written about excess in the startup business world – excess benefits, opportunities, office design and the latest nice-to-haves in a bid to develop a free-thinking, innovative, and cohesive business culture. But when times get tough, and your foundations start to shake, teams start to pick up heavier workloads, longer hours, bigger responsibility – and that’s when a solid, transparent, engaging business culture becomes the fundamental glue which holds everything together. That’s, of course, if you have everyone focussed on a united, strategic vision that is built on growth.

Getting your strategic vision right has, for as long as we can remember, been the stuff of text books and mentorships. But for many who simply don’t have the luxury of time, and capital, understanding and growing the right vision for their business often takes a back seat to the business of today – where they are focussed on the immediate, and not quite the long term. Building a vision and building a culture that supports that vision cannot be done independently of each other. The only way you’re going to achieve your long-term growth plans is by being supported by a larger team of people who are as bought in as you are.  You want to develop a vision that embraces change, plans for it, and is transparent enough for your teams to feel that they are part of it all.

Kasia proposes that, before embarking on any type of organisational change, you ask yourself these core questions:

  • Is a major transformation necessary or will a more surgical, limited repositioning be enough?
  • Is the current state of your organisation optimal for the type of transformation you are choosing?
  • Or do you need to transform your organisation before transforming the business?


Be Brutally Honest about Your Achievements, and Failures

There is very little chance that you’re going to get it right first time. Transformation, by definition, is a process by which something is converted from one state into another; a process. Think of the ripple effect you cause when you throw a pebble into some water. The more one thing changes, the larger the knock-on effect. Changing the knock-on effect results in new ripples, and so it goes on.  And business transformation is no different. There may be glaring issues that need to be rectified and acted on, immediately – like excessive costs, a non-functioning supply chain, operational down-time, bottle-neck of processes or information, and inevitably, it’s unlikely to be a quick-fix. We have worked with many organisations over the years that have shown true turn-around, and profit, through a series of changes, hard work, tough decisions, and perseverance.

But the first step to causing any type of change, especially the right types of ripples, is the need to be honest with yourself – about your achievements (past, present and future) and your failures (past, present and future).  Having a vision in your mind vs actually achieving that vision is not the same thing. One is a thought process, the other is execution. A strategy means that one serves the other, and the results are the best of both. But you’re simply not going to get there if you’re not transparent about what you’re trying to achieve, or (in many cases) not achieving at all.


Decide on the Right Execution Plan

So many companies get the vision right, but fail to see a successful execution plan. They spend so much time and effort on building a plan that looks impressive, builds confidence amongst their key stakeholders, leadership teams, investors and staff that once all is said and done, remain a thought process documented on a powerpoint slide.

“More than half of companies undertaking transformation fail to achieve the desired business result”, estimates Stephen G. Hasty, a KPMG partner and U.S. Innovation Leader for Advisory, in the same survey mentioned previously. And there’s reason for that.

McKinsey says that research tells us that most change efforts fail. Yet change methodologies are stuck in a pre-digital era. Around 70% of change programs fail to achieve their goals, largely due to employee resistance and lack of management support”. And a large part of that relies on the digitisation of an organisation’s ability to process and effect change. “While companies have been obsessing about how to use digital to improve their customer-facing businesses, the application of digital tools to promote and accelerate internal change has received far less scrutiny.” And the battle is on. Organisations are under increased pressure to simultaneously deliver rapid results and sustainable growth in an increasingly competitive environment.  Your execution plan should be as rigorously thought through, tested and reviewed, as your strategic objective, and if you’re not already focussed on how you’re going to do that, then it’s time to make a plan.

We are encouraged by businesses who are coming to terms with their need to transform – and prepare for a new digital tomorrow. We’ve worked with businesses across many industries who needed some extra help to get themselves onto the right, profitable path. If you’re ready to take a step towards business turnaround, and need experienced know-how to help, then talk to us today.