Here are some watch points for spotting that a transformation programme is doomed. If you spot any of these, beware!
Leadership not being addressed – If the leadership isn’t right, the transformation is doomed. However, the leadership team is rarely addressed.. Often leaders will agree that leadership needs to be addressed, but they’ll typically be speaking about other leaders. Make sure you have a clear plan to address the leadership level, and if a leader or set of leaders aren’t able to make the change, then move them on
Business change workstream a low priority – This inevitably feels like a ‘nice to have’ for most people. When budgets get tight, the business change workstream gets squeezed. It’s a transformation programme – the change requires people who know how to instigate lasting change. Make sure the budget for this is safeguarded else you might as well burn the rest of your budget
Cultural change not in scope – Transformations typically require cultural transformation. However, culture does not change easily as it is pervasive in almost every aspect of an organisation. For this reason culture is normally ignored as it is too hard. Make sure that the culture impacts are understood and plans are agreed and in place to address these
No single agreed vision – If a single vision is not yet fully articulated, you’re in trouble. The key word here is ‘single’. Too many transformation programmes kick off with a vague vision where execs have differing views on exactly what they want the transformation to do. They need to get aligned on one vision statement else when things get difficult you will see conflicting priorities kick in
Lack of a strong sponsor-leader – Transformation programmes will have sponsors. However, is the sponsor someone who is really behind it, has the right level of seniority and is able to give time to back it properly? A sponsor-leader is needed who can give the strong backing and leadership needed behind the scenes. This isn’t like a sponsor of an event where they just lend their name; you need them to get involved.