Transformational Management

Peter Strempel

When is it worth taking the risk of embarking on a major transformational change project? As a business owner or executive you can see the writing on the wall when results are reaching a plateau and you know you’re no longer moving forward the way you need to in order to grow and survive.

That’s when the risk of doing nothing nothing, or doing too little, becomes greater than the risk of a transformation that could challenge every assumption and norm that has guided the organisation to that point, and re-shapes the ones that represent obstacles for survival and success.

Three of the most common circumstances in which that can happen are —

  • when start-ups cannot continue to operate in the chaotic ad-hoc mode that worked so well with few staff and a small customer base, but needs to change to accommodate normalised processes and functions as the business reaches for the next stage in its development;
  • when established organisations realise they are being held back by legacy structures and systems from adapting to changing market conditions in which more nimble competitors are leaving them behind; and
  • when management recognises that an organisation has developed a toxic culture that prevents it from adapting to changing requirements, customer demands, and its own survival.

How is transformational change different from other kinds of change?

When it might not be good enough to tinker with processes and other piecemeal changes to achieve the scope of the changes that are needed fast enough. When what is required is not just about how things are done, but also about a paradigm shift in how employees think about why change is necessary. Transformational change is cultural change driving all other change.

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Organisational culture is the common set of attitudes among its people that defines how things are done, and what is left undone. Turning around such a culture to make it the driver of change and innovation is likely to be biggest single competitive advantage you can create from existing resources.

The challenge lies in juggling a continuity of operations while engaging all your people in mapping out a new way of thinking about what they do, and gaining their commitment to the new structures and processes that will transform the way they work.

This is where you could use a change facilitator who will represent your strategic interests while guiding your people to understand business objectives and their opportunities to be part of an emerging new success story. A facilitator like me, who can bring to bear all his skills in architecture and process design, change and project management, and in team coaching and development. Taking the load off you while keeping you involved in key stages, and leading your people to come to their own realisations about the need for change.

Why you should pick me to help

Wouldn’t it be better to go with a large consultancy, or someone who has experience gained in years of management positions in larger organisations? Yes and no. People like that will bring with them the baggage of the porganisational cultures that shaped them, which will often include slow-moving, bureaucrqatic, and management detachment from frontline realities. Consultants from large firms are likely to be reliant on more junuior people to actually make things happen while seeking large rewards packages for themselves; that’s just how large conultancies work. Executives from larger organisations are likely to have become administrators of settled and fixed processes rather than change agents. They may also be unusued to getting their hands dirty with the work of hands-on guidance and facilitation.

While I have experience working in large organisations, it’s almost always been with the freedom to act like an internal freelancer or consultant. I not only know how to get directly involved in frontline process changes, I enjoy it much more than the prospect of a corner office with views and a personal assistant. It’s also fair to say that unlike the senior people you could poach or hire from larger companies, I spent the time they devoted to climbing a corporate hierarchy developing my skills horizontally and vertically, meaning I understand the end-to-end processes in a number of specialisations rather than just one.

You have to be the judge of what suits you best. All I can do here is offer you a glimpse of what you can expect when you choose to work with me to realise your most ambitious goals.

How would that work in practice?

In outline, I would facilitate a transformation project by leading your people through the following stages —

  • An audit of the present architecture, processes, and team functions in the organisation as a benchmark and the basis for the planned transformation;
  • Group instruction on business analytical techniques to create a common skill-set in examining the challenge ahead;
  • Basic communal business environment and strategy analysis by the team(s), and guided to be aligned with existing objectives, but aimed at generating new ideas and innovation;
  • Individual and team engagement with basic concepts underlying personality typing and how a personal understanding of personality of individuals and teams can help to improve team performance, and team to team cooperation;
  • Group consideration of team structures and management styles appropriate to new and better ways of working;
  • Expected performance norms, KPIs, rewards, and opportunities aligned with business priorities; and
  • Basic project planning to develop work packages and timelines for the transformation stages.
My process for an organisational transformation
FIGURE 1: My process to manage an organisational transformation. Details are described on the transformation process page.

If and when a project plan is ready for implementation, I can also act as the project manager to turn all the planning into a sustainable new operational model.

Everything I do to facilitate your transformation will be focused on your business priorities, tailored to your specific circumstances and needs. That said, I cannot promise you that it will be easy. Likely as not it will be the hardest thing you’ve ever done, and the most rewarding.

If you choose to work with me on your transformational journey, you can expect my total commitment, exceeding any contractual expectations, and I’ll expect your commitment to seeing it through. Without your commitment, as the business owner or the executive in charge, transformation is just not possible. I have seen smaller projects fail because senior management support was limited to lip service and an unwillingness to make the hard decisions that come with the territory. Such decisions can include letting go of people, abandoning unprofitable activities, or embarking on entirely new ones. They certainly include taking risks. That’s what transformation is all about, and why it’s different from a conventional change program. And that’s also why the rewards are so much greater.

Still interested?

Let me explain in greater detail how I would facilitate a transformation and guide your people through all the necessary steps. What I offer is still only a generic plan that needs to be customised to suit your precise circumstances and needs, but it will give you a good feel for what you can expect from me in practical terms.

The generic plan description is presented on a separate page because it covers quite a bit of ground. Click here to see my process for facilitating a transformational change project. Or contact me now to discuss your needs.

RELATED: Read my case study on the 2016 online census project to see how outdated management structures and practices can create nightmare situations for even well-meaning organisations.