Out of Oxford University Innovation, solving the $7.4 Trillion question on why 84% of transformations fail
Jenni Sacks, Independent Consultant, named a Top 50 Game Changer and Founder of the tech company Impakt It, out of Oxford University Innovation, shares with Adam Gates, Head of Odgers Connect, the findings solving the 84% failure rate of transformation. $4-11 Trillion is budgeted on transformation activity in 3 years to 2022 alone.
#TheChallenge: Solve why 84% of transformations fail
Dr Seuss’s ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ is the product of the challenge to write a book containing no more than 50 unique words. I am no Dr Seuss, but perhaps we can condense the root of transformation success and failure, down to a 280-character tweet for the Seussical Twittersphere (you’ll need to read to the end for the literary attempt!)?
Here are the building block tweets to get us there, based on our work out of Oxford University Innovation, award-winning tried and tested approaches and part of the reason, with Impakt It, for being named a Top 50 Game Changer.
In our fast-changing environment, it is survival of the fittest and fastest. To succeed, one needs to mobilise the team, get the transformation started quickly, execute with #momentum, achieve measurable results rapidly, and authentically nurture one’s people. Preferably all at a low investment. “Mater artium necessitas” – Necessity, is the mother of invention.
- Transformation is the ability of the organisation (or part thereof) to continually adapt to deliver an outcome in an ongoing changing environment. The size and objective of the transformation is determined by the gap to achieve this.
- Successful transformation also changes (transforms) the continued way of working so that another special project transformation is not required.
- Transformations fail at execution phase. Execution is a series of actions. Actions are a combination of the technical process, and the people undertaking the actions.
- Therefore, in identifying the root:
- #Foundation: Is the foundation (vision and plans) which informs the execution, faulty? and/or
- #TechnicalExecution: Is the technical process used in the execution phase, flawed? and/or
- #People: Is the people element in execution, malfunctioning?
3. #RootCause - #Purpose #Momentum #SinglePointOfTruth
- At the heart of the traditional laundry list of failure causes, are three drivers that answer the #LogicalQuestion above: #Purpose, #Momentum, and a #SinglePointOfTruth.
3a. #Purpose: Change “push” to “pull”
- 2 issues: i. Organisations’ core purpose for transformation is superficially identified, creating a vulnerable foundation. ii. Aligning individuals’ purposes to the organisation’s purpose is almost universally ignored. Both are critical.
- Define the organisation’s #purpose on accurate transformation principals. The correct tools are ‘scientific’ (e.g., Toyota 5 Whys etc.). Every component will link back to #purpose. Faulty purpose = faulty transformation.
- Ensure EVERY individual has input into the future vision (it’s never too late to do this). There is a 95%-98% correlation between individuals’ personal career purpose (what they want to do in their role), and the elements required for the organisation’s transformation. This is practical and efficient with the right tools (e.g., Impakt It’s tool collects and correlates this in 15 minutes, irrespective of employee number).
- For #people, this alignment changes transformation from a “negative push instruction” to a “positive pull opportunity”. Aside from removing costs and obstacles to momentum, it authentically nurtures individuals and delivers engagement and skills development.
3b. #Momentum: arguably the single most important component.
- In Newtonian mechanics, #momentum’s the force that drives something forward, the first thing leads to the next and so on. Transformation momentum is achieved when, the SAME technical approach delivers results to BOTH the organisation AND intrinsically motivates the people executing the process, to undertake the process again and again.
- This execution approach is a science, and very logical: use MVT™ (Minimum Viable Transformation™) (see #TechnicalExecution (#MVT™ below)).
- In transformation there are multiplicities of dispersed roles, tasks, and interdependencies, from technical to “imperceptible”, which drives confusion and failure. Successful execution and momentum require a single point that integrates all components, clearly, and can be dynamically used from vision to completion.
- An effective #SinglePointOfTruth: captures, tracks and communicates EVERY component of a transformation on 1 page. The same single page is used from vision through execution and measurement.
- The Impakt Transformation Canvas poetically does this with 13 boxes on 1 page (replacing long complicated documents). It clearly articulates the journey, the actions, highlights interdependencies, includes all technical and people elements, tracks investment and benefits, and simplifies decision making.
- Current project management is inherently limited in creating a single point of truth on its own, primarily because it cannot synthesise business as usual and the #people component and is disconnected from the #foundation.
Let’s apply the #RootCauses of #Purpose, #Momentum and #SinglePointOfTruth, to the #LogicalQuestion, and fix the faults in the #Foundation; #TechnicalExecution and #People component.
i. #Foundation (complete, one-page, single point of truth for ALL actions)
- Complete foundations start with defined and aligned #purpose. This creates a decision-making anchor and engagement.
- A successful foundation includes all components expressed with clarity on a single page. The Impakt Transformation Canvas does this with 13 boxes on 1 page. This forms the #SinglePointOfTruth guiding all actions, decision-making, and measurement.
- Many current consulting models narrowly focus on “process, technology, and people” (only 1 of the 13 boxes) resulting in complex compensatory plans.
ii. #TechnicalExecution (#MVT™)
- MVT™ (Minimum Viable Transformation™) creates the small operational version of the BIG transformation vision quickly (achievable in 8 weeks), allows for swift changes to reach optimal operation and ensures the desired transformation benefits are actually delivered. The MVT™ can then be scaled rapidly, removing wholesale risk, disruption, and waste.
- #MVT™ approach delivers actual value and #momentum simultaneously, at a lower cost and faster rate, and mitigates the issue with theoretical static plans- 99% of which fail! MVT™ also nurtures #people (discussed below).
- The approach to transformation needs to transition people to habitually do their work in a new transformed way. It also needs to engage people, so they are motivated to deliver transformation with #momentum. Instructing people to do things differently, cannot deliver change or momentum.
- Mobilising change in people is achieved primarily by energising their intrinsic motivators. Simplifying the science, this translates into autonomy, mastery and purpose (an entire topic on its own). The MVT™ approach together with the #Purpose alignment, achieves just this, delivering both the transformation at speed, but also upskilled and engaged employees. (The “how it does this”, is an entire topic in itself!)
In A Tweet:
- Create a complete #Foundation starting with an unassailable #Purpose. Articulate all components on 1 page which forms the #SinglePointOfTruth. #TechnicalExecution needs a revamped, simplified approach that delivers #Momentum. This is achieved using #MVT™, which together with #Purpose alignment, upskills and engages all #People.
The Seussical tweet might read something like this:
“Sam I am, I do not like a transformation sham.
Ask hard questions to that fox,
Selling old templates from their box.
Foundation with a purpose on 1 Page;
A Single-point-of-truth to engage.
Execute with momentum, yes sir’ree!
Simply solved using MVT™!
At lower cost, and faster pace;
Problem solved- I rest my case.”
And who can object to solving an expensive complex question, with a simple, easy to understand, tweet?! Well, I guess the Twittersphere will answer that! Or if you would like to tweet back, for consulting services or to discuss this article in more detail, please contact Adam Gates.
 Calculated approximation: Statista; IDC; Gartner.