Assessing Business Readiness for Transformation
Tradition and legacy are often markers of culture and success. Businesses are certainly not wrong to hold these markers in a valuable light, but tradition and legacy by themselves are not enough to survive in the modern world and in the modern market. Contextualization, modernization, and overall transformation are important for making modern businesses competitive, and they can push a brand from new growth to successful.
However, transformation, especially in a digital sense, is not just a magic word that fixes everything. It can be a difficult and taxing process, and one that can only really pay off if your business is ready. There are plenty of infrastructure and culture details to sort out before you venture into the challenges of transformation. Let’s take a look at some of the work that needs to be done, some of the challenges that you might face, and what happens after the process.
While there is no comprehensive list of indicators that can tell you if your specific business is ready for transformation, there are a few key things to look out for and consider. It’s important to note, also, that some indicators might seem to contradict each other, or at least have some tension between them.
Strong company culture is a key indicator. Remember, a transformation is a tough process, and if your team isn’t ready to stick with the company while this process is pulled off, it can be a dangerous roll of the dice. Having a healthy workplace environment, aligning workers’ interests and aspirations with the company direction, and having a high level of trust between the workers and leadership, making sure that company culture are all rock solid is a great first step.
Clear company direction is another crucial indicator. We mentioned that transformation isn’t just a magic word that fixes everything, and direction is the biggest caveat there. Transformation, especially digitalization, needs to take the company somewhere. Overhauling infrastructure and re-defining processes is going to do little good if there’s no clear vision for what these new tools are going to actually do.
Plateauing performance is one of the most important indicators. If good growth has been part of your company’s trajectory, but that growth has slowed down or stopped altogether, transformation might be on the horizon. This can be a tricky indicator to judge, because plateauing can also be a symptom of other foundations falling short all of a sudden. However, if your team is working well, your trajectory is well-defined, productivity is generally up, and growth still seems harder to achieve, it might be time to invest in some change.
General technical/technological debt is a more specific version of the previous indicator. Things might be running as smoothly as possible, but if it becomes clear that your team is doing their best with the technology, tools, and training that they have, and it’s clear that some of these elements are a tad outdated, then an upgrade might be in order. This upgrade might mean a few small additions and updates, or it could be the spark for a full digital transformation.
Overcoming Certain Challenges
Just like transformation isn’t a magic word, these indicators aren’t met just by mentioning or recognizing them. Reaching good standing with each of these, and other important indicators, can be a big challenge in and of itself. Fortunately, there are a few tried and true ways of doing just that.
OKRs, or Objectives and Key Results, is a leadership and planning framework that breaks down larger, more abstract goals (objectives) into more immediate, more measurable, and more digestible tasks (key results). This framework can work wonders for trajectory and for fine-tuning company principles, since it allows leadership to more explicitly tie long-term efforts to tangible tasks. This also helps workers connect to the work that they’re doing, since the value of each task is outlined more clearly.
Leadership style is a big part of building up a great workplace culture and environment. Specifically, mentor management and servant leadership are philosophies that help leaders invest in their businesses by investing in their workers first. You can’t expect workers to genuinely commit to the company mission if they don’t feel safe, welcome, and supported at work, and so investing in workers needs to come first!
Audits are another great way to gauge these indicators. They can work in a variety of different ways, and your specific workplace structure might determine what kinds of audits will work better for you. Audits are crucial for establishing communication between leadership and the actual working conditions, and understanding more directly where everything and everyone stands. Audits can pinpoint problems with any of the indicators, and especially with the technological debt.
Moving Forward Purposefully
Once transformation has taken place, the work isn’t suddenly over. Moving forward after a major transformation means continuing all the previous points. While there are certain moments in time in which specific, popular, and sudden transformations need to be made, transformation is actually a common and often continuous process. Every day, we are learning more about our markets, our industries, our teams, and about what it means to be successful.
This means that transformation can’t just be a one-off process. Keeping up with OKRs by using powerful leadership frameworks and audits ensures that your transformation continues to materialize in the most efficient and helpful ways possible. It also keeps you ready and alert for ongoing and future transformations that need to take place. At the end of the day, any and all growth lays the foundation for more growth in the future—it is never the final destination.
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