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Business transformation is distinct from business change. It differs in a number of ways. Confusing or misidentifying the two is fatal. An initiative that requires a wide ranging transformation being treated as a relatively minor change project is bound to fail. It might not fail to be delivered, but the ambition to deliver the scale that’s required will risk the organisations strategy. Some change initiatives are tactical and some deliver strategic objectives. Whatever the underlying drivers, business transformation as distinct from tactical business change can be identified by the following typical characteristics:

Step change – The kind of change the organisation is seeking could be considered major. There are tangible differences in the way that the organisation, as whole operates before and after the initiative.

Lack of clarity – The nature of the transformation might mean that the leadership has a broad idea of the future and what it wants to achieve, but not how to achieve it. Outcomes are not necessarily known with clarity & may evolve over time.

Conflict – Cause & effect are muddled & there are significant differences of opinion over what needs to be done. Indeed this conflict will be present during the delivery of the change.

Complexity – The plan has lots of interdependencies, multiple stakeholders & no one person has the ability to make it all happen. The top leadership in the organisation has a key responsibility to communicate cohesion.

Competencies – The change requires multiple competencies from right across the organisation.

Depth of change – Transformation is a change that requires a shift in organisational values & demonstrable behaviours.

Pain – A change that typically causes severe disruption, discomfort & uncertainty to large parts of the organisation.

Scope – Management focus is on the overhaul of strategy, structures, processes, people & technology.


Published by Pete Wilson

Pete has worked in the technology and business change space for over 30 years. He's worked globally for large public sector and governmental bodies and for large private sector multinationals across numerous industry sectors.

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