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Large scale organizations with antiquated infrastructures that grew over time into formidable “giant hairballs” must approach transformation in a measured, integrated fashion to create efficiencies, maximize profit, foster talent development, and best serve their customers. My experience shows me that successful efforts are marked by SEVEN distinct steps:

  1. Get top down buy-in.

The management team must commit to the transformation effort and ultimately everyone else will too. When everyone is on the same team, no one wants to be left out and it is human nature to resist anyone getting ahead of anyone else – thus, the importance of buy-in from the top of the house. Slowly but surely, all commit, each person on the team takes a piece of the accountability, and transformation governance is built around them. Now everyone is a stakeholder.

  1. Plan the transformation journey to be three years or less.

Agility is key and successful transformation cannot be planned from the outset to become another giant hairball – another large-scale project or initiative that ties up a lot of time for a lot of people but ultimately ends up not fulfilling its intended purpose. Put a deadline on it and make it short.

  1. Do an inventory on what is going on already.

People. Processes. Technology. All are interlinked. Are efforts in any areas already underway? Don’t stop them. Plan to put the transformation model on top of whatever else is already happening and integrate it all, because forward motion is the imperative.

  1. Build the transformation model and target structure.

Start the journey with a vision of what the end result will be. What is your location strategy? Will you automate or repurpose your teams? How will you simplify your environment? Think efficiency and innovation and clearly envision the new state BEFORE you begin the process.

  1. Remember that transparency and communication is key.

Leadership shares information with management and management with staff. Everyone is a stakeholder in the process. The more you position transformation and the more you get people engaged in the program through an effective and transparent communications program, the more they want to deliver. In fact, they will become energized and deliver more than you expect!

  1. Be consistent.

Build a reporting apparatus and stay true to it. There are people waiting for the information promised to them on a consistent, timely basis, and you must deliver it to keep trust.

  1. Stay accountable.

Think constant updates and transparency at every stage. Everyone is listening to you report what is happening and that drives the next thought. As each pillar program is presented and each discussion around that happens, that discussion will drive the next movement – everyone is in the middle of the process at that point and sees themselves on the side of the change that is coming. Everyone stays on their toes in a forward motion pattern. You will have many stakeholders at all levels as you drive this process, and you must always be front and center – available and accountable for all. People are counting on you – there is no hiding when you are in a transformation role!


I have found it helpful to kick off major transformation efforts within organizations by educating senior management on the buzz words in the transformation world and as it pertains to a specific project, letting them know what it will mean for them as individuals, educating them on my role, the organization’s role, and what their own roles should be.