What is business transformation?
Business transformation is simply the process through which the leaders of organizations manage change and drive business growth.
Businesses are always changing. Change can be driven by crisis or by opportunity: shifting market conditions, emerging new markets or evolving expectations around workplace culture. Change can also be proactive, helping organizations to stay ahead of the curve in shaping market conditions, creating new markets and opportunities, and becoming more successful in the process.
But, no matter how change occurs, one thing will always remain true, businesses that resist change will be left behind by more agile, more innovative competitors. Organizations must foster the ability to adapt to change, whether planned or unplanned.
Clearly, business transformation is a complex topic. That is why intense planning and preparation are the first, and arguably the most influential elements of the process, which we will explore in this guide.
Why is business transformation important?
Broadly speaking, business transformation addresses two key issues that face all organizations: maintaining the agility to react to unpredictable circumstances, and encouraging the innovation required to become market leaders.
An organizational culture that relies on making changes only reactively is likely to be dominated by short-term thinking, with ad-hoc decision-making taking precedence over long-term strategy.
To achieve proactive transformation, an organization must have the ability to reflect inwards and identify things that can be improved, it must plan ahead with concrete long-term goals, and it must prepare its people for the parts they will play in the transformation.
The impacts of business transformation
The impacts of business transformation that leaders with a growth mindset might be most excited by are the obvious improvements in performance and competitiveness that it brings about. But business transformation doesn’t simply mean cutting costs and pursuing rapid growth for its own sake. Business transformation encompasses improved ethics, sustainability, brand recognition and employee wellbeing, all of which are known to have positive knock-on effects on an organization’s profitability.
The increased adaptability and agility that business transformation creates will set the organization on course for sustainable long-term growth.
Getting buy-in from stakeholders is a prerequisite for business transformation. This means that it is vital to communicate not just what changes employees can expect to see, but why it is important to make these changes, what their impact will be, and how they as individuals and the organization collectively will benefit.
Even at this early stage, it is beneficial for everyone in the organization to understand the approach that the organization’s leaders have chosen. Training is a great approach to establishing this understanding. By taking part in activities such as business simulations, high potential employees who will play a key role in the business transformation can step into the shoes of the organization’s leaders and really understand their rationale.
It is very likely that, no matter how effectively leaders communicate their business transformation strategy, some employees will be resistant to change. Rather than trying to force the issue, it is better to understand the roots of this resistance. Employees may feel that their preferred workflows will be disrupted, or that their position itself is under threat. Engaging in constructive dialogue is the best way to reach an understanding through which the employee’s concerns are addressed without compromising the aims of the organizational transformation.
Adjustment and acceptance
Through constructive dialogue, and by seeing the organization from the perspective of the people within it, leaders are likely to learn useful lessons about their organization. This will lead to adjustments being made to the organizational transformation strategy that, rather than compromising it, actually strengthen that strategy and optimize it for the particulars of the organization. With goals and expectations firmly established organizational transformation can then proceed.
The ability to enable and engage with such honest and open communication between employees and leaders is a difficult skill to acquire. However, it can be taught with the right training. Experiential learning has an emphasis on teamwork and learning through doing, nurturing the skills and behaviors required to participate successfully in business transformation.
Once a well-planned strategy is in place, it is vital to follow it consistently. There will be no shortage of temptations for business leaders and team-members to improvise changes to the strategy on an ad-hoc basis, which risks the organization falling back into reactive rather than proactive practices. Plans do sometimes need to change, but these changes must be discussed and agreed upon by all stakeholders. Therefore, it is vital for your organizational transformation strategy to include robust governance and well-defined channels of communication, allowing transformation to proceed in an ongoing, agile and sustainable manner.
How to get started
If you are excited by the possibilities of business transformation, why not contact us today to find out more about how experiential learning using business simulations with StratX Exl can set your organization on course for long-term sustainable growth?