Transformations need effective business change to avoid failing

It’s no secret that business transformation projects fail all the time. IBM puts the failure rate at 84%! A lack of effective business change is often at the heart of any given failure.

A critical workstream in its own right, business change is the ‘soft side’ of transformation that must also have a presence in all other workstreams within transformation projects and programmes.

Business change must take stakeholders on the transformation journey. It’s a way of working that ensures people are involved from start to finish. It ensures that people are defining their own future and do not feel dictated to. We insist on it with all of our transformation projects.

If people don’t feel empowered to design the future state or don’t feel engaged on the journey, they will become disenfranchised and resist the change, and transformation will be considered a failure.

One of the most notable failures to a transformation project was the development of the Firecontrol scheme in England. MPs said the project wasted £469 million and suggested a ‘total lack of stakeholder consultation’ was the key reason.

Despite the fact that few transformation projects will be successful without it, lack of effective business change happens all of the time, especially in the public sector. Quite often when a new technology contract is first scoped out, the development of a piece of IT and its implementation will be included, but not the business change needed to ensure stakeholders use it once it goes live. Sadly, it can be a tough sell – and often the first thing to get dropped or scaled back from a transformation project.

If business transformation is going to deliver in 2020, business change is crucial. And giving such initiatives an attractive label such as digital transformation, organisational restructuring, pivoting, agile transformation or culture change in no way makes it any less so.

Written by: Adam Warmington, Principal Consultant

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Transformations need effective business change to avoid failing