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5 Key Principles to Leading your Business Transformation

Transformation is critical for the evolution and sustainability of your business. To ensure success, leadership is at the forefront, to drive and maintain momentum, seek out opportunities and deliver outcomes. My post today will offer some practical principals to ensure you are on the path to success.

Firstly, it is important to understand that change is a part of our every day lives. Unconsciously, we compartmentalise changes in our daily lives, based on the most impact to us personally – we don't want to complicate things for ourselves, in an overly complex world and life. The compartmentalisation approach we take is to help us to avoid cognitive dissonance and the discomfort we experience through constant change. Generally, we innately don’t want to complicate our personal processes or structures; however, there can be a tendency to introduce more systems and structures to cover perceived [and real] gaps in our lives – planning is a must, but don’t over plan; as you will encounter changing environmental factors along the way that you will need to adjust and adapt to.

Think of a time when you started a new job

You will have had some excitement and some trepidation about the new role, and the people you were going to work with. Now think of how you addressed the trepidation; you will have immersed yourself in gaining knowledge to succeed, engaged with your new team members, understood what was expected of you and took on the challenges with an open mind…these are all of the hallmarks of leading successful transformation – resilience and drive. Ensuring that you keep an open, solution-focussed mind will give you the keys to deliver success.

Simplicity and openness is crucial for engagement, to ensure everybody understands the need for change and to adopt the new way of working. Remembering back to that new job – I'm sure you wouldn't have gone in thinking, “this is all too hard and I’ll just fly under the radar”. Challenging yourself and others will lead to a difference of opinion, but also open up opportunities to seek out new and innovative ways of addressing people, processes, systems and structures. Lets explore 5 principles that will help you achieve.

1. The truth is king

People will invariably see through any “slick” marketing approach to transforming your business. With information overloading our daily lives, people look for clear, simple, unambiguous messages to understand what is happening in their world. Speak to the core reason of the change and the specific impact for individuals, as this will encourage people to join your cause.

By engaging on a personal level with the people who are impacted by the change to be implemented, you will seek insight into how people’s lives will be affected by the change and can work on solutions that work for them. Being strong in the conviction of your transformation piece can enliven passion amongst those that will feel the most impact from the change – talk about your vision and how you see the transformation agenda will provide a positive experience for all, in their daily lives.

2. Keep moving forward with pace

As with any change that we face, there will be times that are tougher than others. Being resilient and reminding yourself of the need for the change will give you the energy to continue. That energy needs to be kept up to ensure others see your desire to achieve the outcome.

Ensure that you schedule regular meetings and contact with all affected that point out the need for the change and how this will benefit your organisation’s ecosystem. Regular “face time” will maintain the momentum and drive people to take the journey with you.

3. Plan well – but move with the times

It is essential to plan – we all know the old adage “if we fail to plan we plan to fail”. Be mindful of the key elements that are required to deliver the outcomes for success. This can be achieved by taking an appreciate enquiry approach and being people centred – has everyone seen the movie Philadelphia and remember Denzel Washington’s character? In that movie, Denzel’s character achieved an understanding of issues by asking “now tell me like I'm a 5 year old”.

Early scoping and planning of your transformation program will give you the platform for driving change; however, it is important to remain flexible to the possibilities that pop up during the delivery. Understand that your program will have a number of competing priorities and your energy will ensure that the program will remain at the centre of organisation’s conscientiousness – adapt to the moving parts, rather than stubborn to the fact of simply delivering your planned approach.

4. Stop and listen – don’t just talk at people

There can be a tendency to want to over-play the need to communicate “at people”. You will want to stop and listen to what everyone is saying, to identify opportunities to overcome issues through your transformation journey. People want to be involved and understand what is being proposed – there is a need to adjust to the new way of working.

Stopping and listening will give time to pause and evaluate why we are doing what we are doing, what has been achieved to date and what it left to be achieved - pausing is a great way for all involved to reflect on every aspect of the journey.

5. Talk about the real benefits

During the transformation journey, outlining the benefits of the change is critical; however, simply calling out the benefits for the business can be polarising. Ensure you map out the benefits to individuals and how it will transform their working lives. Additionally, there is a need to call out the dis-benefits and how the overall change will serve them and the business. Ensure you are across all aspects of the change to be able to authoritatively and openly discuss the dis-benefits that encourages a solution focus.

Adopting the first principle of “the truth is king” will give credibility to your approach about discussing benefits. If the dis-benefits call out additional work or a change in role, discuss how those issues will be addressed and [importantly] offer you an opportunity to have constructive solutions provided by those affected by the change.

Do the 5 principles of transforming your business appear in your programs? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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