Why Your Business Transformation Efforts Are Failing (And How You Can Unlock Success)

If I could request one thing from the world, it would be that businesses, clients, and people alike stop asking for transformation without the willingness to change.

We find that clients always ask for “transformative” ideas while being unwilling to change anything. The actual definition of “transform” is to change in form, appearance, or structure; metamorphose. Yet, in my experience with dozens of clients over many years, client’s still don’t know that one requires the other. How can you transform anything without an anticipation or willingness to make changes to business as usual? I’m asking these questions as if I don’t know the answer, but we know for a fact that apprehension lies primarily in one thing: change is difficult.

We are not perfect at Idea booth, but we have experienced enough situations to understand that everyone wants to hit it big. We’ve learned that our most successful cases studies have been born from a special kind of client relationship. These clients understand that you have to be willing to stop, take a step back, and listen to those who are experts at what they do.

Transformation first starts with ideas, but ideas alone are not enough.

I remember being absolutely stoked when we thought we had crushed a product redesign with a previous client. We thought we had it in the bag when the client was blown away from our ability to ideate a new design that would cut down on the weight, improve quality, and add smart technology to the product. It was no surprise that we were stopped in our tracks when they told us that it may take several years for transformation to happen with the existing people and structure that they had in place.

Business transformation is the opportunity to set a bold ambition that goes beyond incremental change–the opportunity to re-image your business and operating models to deliver breakthrough value. Even an obvious product redesign transformation that is entirely beneficial can’t happen unless the structures are first changed.

It requires changing the way you operate and seeing what works and what doesn’t. Focusing on today’s operational efforts does nothing more than creates parity with the best executors of yesterday’s model. It is a recipe for short-term survival, not long-term transformation. Your current way of “doing things” is much less about how to engineer a transformation and more about managing incremental gains.

To engineer transformation, you have to be willing change what you are currently doing in a fundamentally different way. This is the way that you can rise to the existential challenge of disruptive change to own their future, rather than be shaken by it.

Transformation requires execution.

It’s not enough to ask for transformative ideas, businesses have to anticipate and own disruption by implementing an agile approach that delivers quick wins and iterative progress. That means connecting business strategy, transformation ambition, and execution discipline into a fluid approach.

We’ve cooked up the best recipes, practices, and strategies to allow clients to succeed in building a personal brand. They love the ideas (sometimes) and think they’re great in theory, but we’ve found that they are so stuck in their old ways that sometimes the execution doesn’t ever pull through. By the way, be aware because those clients will come back pointing fingers at you when really they weren’t able to execute the steps that you gave them.

People talk a lot but don’t do a lot, and I believe that transformation and change require action. So enough talking, and take a look at these five actionable steps that unlock revolutionary transformation in the workplace:

1. Start with what’s possible.

Clients have to think big–and bold. Thinking big can help organizations unlock the value of transformation, unlock hidden opportunities, and generate new value. It requires clients to revaluate how they create value today–and in the future.

2. Embrace experimentation.

Explore ideas that might not work with the intention of finding the one that does. It takes time so be patient and work through as many ideas as possible.

3. Prepare for changes.

Anticipate change. Implement an agile approach to implementation that delivers quick wins and iterative progress. Transformation requires change management disciplines, leaders also have to learn a broader set of transformational leadership capabilities, such as more flexible and dynamic coordination of resources, stronger collaboration across boundaries, and communication in the midst of uncertainty.

4. Use outsiders to develop insiders.

Successful transformations strike the right balance between the use of external and internal resources. External advisors bring expertise, fresh perspectives, and important skills that can be adopted by companies. The best outcomes result from a highly collaborative process that helps the company build its own capabilities over time.

5. Work fast but methodically.

The process should place a premium on speed but also be inclusive. Input from a range of sources, both inside the company and outside, from clients and partners, is important. Working quickly also recognizes that analysis is useful, but the execution is paramount. Many companies know what needs to be done but have lacked the consensus or the right framework to tackle it.

These efforts should be connected and coordinated through a carefully constructed capabilities link. This is the way that leaders can rise to the challenge of disruptive change to own their future, rather than be disrupted by it.


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