How To Design and Implement Transformation Solutions that Move the Needle

by Mark Taylor

In my previous post, How Can You Effectively Prioritise Marketing and Sales Transformation Initiatives?, I outlined the importance for leadership teams to be able to identify and prioritise a set of ‘vital few’ initiatives, focusing on the first two of six steps required to drive effective transformation.

In this post I’ll focus on steps three to five, with the key outcome of implementing impactful solutions that will help you genuinely ‘move the needle’.
 

 

 Step 3: Effective mobilisation – committing to action

To effectively mobilise your transformation initiatives, there are three key imperatives to action:

 
  1. Define scope and deliverables

You will need to resolve each of your ‘vital few’ initiatives in a granular, unambiguous and explicit way. This involves detailing your commercial objectives with specific measures of success, the proposed methodology or approach you will use, expected timelines and any identified risks. To effectively achieve this, a working group needs to flesh out the details and then circle back to the leadership group for final approval.  

 

  1. Establish accountability and governance

This is essential as transformation initiatives are typically set up on top of business as usual responsibilities. You will need to clearly identify both the executive sponsor and singular initiative owner, alongside a robust governance framework to ensure accountability and transparency.  

 

  1. Ensure resources are in place

Do you have the resources, budget and capability to deliver on your transformation mandate? All too often the responsibility to drive transformation initiatives is given to organisational ‘floaters’ who may have the capacity, but not the capability, to achieve success. While other times, initiatives are often lumped as additional loads on already swamped key individuals. A helpful principle to follow is ‘first who, then what?’ You need to get an A team in place with the capacity, capability and desire to progress the initiative. Critical to assembling this A team is taking a ‘vertical slice’ approach to help ensure it includes representatives from all relevant levels and functions.  

Finally, before your team embarks on their transformation initiative, make sure you have mobilised the organisation in terms of mindset, change readiness and openness to getting behind this change agenda.
 
Step 4: Defining practical solutions based on best practice

The first imperative in solving any problem is to ensure you have clearly and explicitly identified the problem you are trying to solve. A vague or inaccurate problem statement is the quickest way to come up with a flawed solution.

So, how do you come up with a solution? To be frank, in most cases you don’t need a heavily structured, consulting-based thinking methodology. Whilst this helps solve complicated problems, the quickest and most effective way is to take universal best practice concepts and pragmatically adapt them to your situation. Pragmatically adapting best practice typically means taking into account your specific operating environment as well as existing organisational constraints, for example technology. This generally results in a sequencing of the solution as you work your way through any existing constraints.

A word of warning – beware of the spring effect. For many driving transformation, genuine organisational constraints are often incorrectly perceived as problems that can be solved immediately. This can result in solutions that spring back to a slightly modified version of what the organisation is already doing. It’s best to hold the line on best practice and robustly challenge any pushback.

Step 5: Implementation

The fatal flaw in this step is to assume that implementation buy-in starts at this stage. If the program has been well-managed, buy-in will have been achieved through involvement and collaboration right from the initial diagnostic phase. While this doesn’t mean it will all be smooth sailing when it comes to implementation, you will have set yourselves up for success by considering implementation buy-in throughout the transformation journey.

The best approach for any complex implementation is to adopt a test and learn approach. Choose a pilot area that will help you gain insights and early traction that you can use as evidence for the rest of the organisation before full roll-out. Ensure the implementation is led by the end user, identify influential champions and ensure leaders play a supportive role throughout the process.
 
What’s the next step after implementation?

Most initiatives don't fail during implementation, but rather in the embedding phase. Embedding is an all-in commitment. It holds us accountable and committed when the temptation to move onto the next shiny new thing is so pervasive throughout business and society. Stay tuned for my next post where I will dive deep into this final, critical element.