All entrepreneurs, when they start up, visualize their organizations to become full-grown, professionally managed Organizations that are spreading their wings to fulfill the objective of growth for themselves and contributing to the betterment of the lives of the people they are serving.
Business transformation is a blanket term for making significant changes in how a business or organization runs. This could include people becoming professionals, processes becoming standardized, using technology, and products becoming brands. The process of transformation helps the organizations to compete more effectively, become more efficient, or make a strategic footprint that would hold the organization to operate on common ground.
Transformation as a concept is both, a process and an outcome. In my experience over the last two decades. I have had an opportunity to assist many small and growing organizations through the process of transformation. Interestingly, most of those organizations were promoter-driven and the buck stopped on their table, whatever the situation, good, bad, or ugly. It was only when they wanted to leap growth, or they wanted to apply new ideas or they wanted to expand their business by adding new verticals or new geographies, they thought of someone who could give them strategic inputs. Luckily, I got that opportunity.
While their objective was similar but their way of beginning the process was very different. Few of them took the initiative of working on themselves first before they brought any strategic makeover (as they would put it, at times) to their teams. But most of them believed that they had to tweak a few things here and there in the system and that would give them desired results. That’s what they got all wrong.
The process of Transformation is not about repairing; it is about preparing.
Business transformations are bold, strong shifts that organizations make to bring change in the way the business runs, and accelerate growth beyond obvious incremental, year-on-year results. The scope is broad and strategic, as if they were switching to new business, or were altering their way of being.
Let us not forget, business transformations create additional value. It may mean unlocking the potential of employees, creating networks and brands, adapting technology, developing breakthrough products, or becoming more efficient to maximize the potential of their company.
One should remember that transformation is not a Band-Aid or a quick-fix solution. Rather it is a gamut of large, multi-year, and multi-layer initiatives requiring numerous changes to the fundamentals of the business, without compromising on the vision that the company is committed to. Based on the size, scope, and timeframe of the business, transformation must be driven from the top—be it the Promoter, Managing Director, or Owner, the one who will be the cause in the matter of transformation.
Let’s try and understand the concept of transformation in detail, by understanding the types of Transformations that a business can go through. As it is a wholesome process, the transformation of a business could be any one or all of the following categories:
Organizational Transformation : Good people are an asset to any business; we all know that. But all our people are good, useful, and productive? Is their vision aligned to the company vision or are they are ready to upgrade themselves for their own growth, resulting in the Organization’s growth? These are the questions that need to be asked. The organizational transformation would need to look at in-house skills and experience, how the staff is deployed, and the various reporting structures and then create a structure that allows companies to identify opportunities. Organizational transformation may also ask for streamlining systems and defining roles and responsibilities to achieve desired growth and success. It may include creating bridges of communication by knocking down departmental silos and right-sizing the headcount.
Business Process Transformation : This transformation involves lots of optimization and automation of repetitive processes to focus on higher-value projects. It also focuses on the “how” of getting things done and creating an agile organization. It is generally an ongoing effort, starting with the most common methods and then continuing onto those with lesser returns. The desired goal is to relieve the company from the burden of these tasks to innovate or provide higher-value services and offerings to the market.
Information/Data/Digital Transformation : Technology is the most important enabler available for businesses to transform. Over time, we have realized that using technology unlocks additional value. It may come in aggregating and sharing data in new, more efficient ways (such as a digital CRM system or HRMS, or online ordering).
Data Analysis through technology allows businesses to track their business and the performances of their customers, channels, or consumers, depending upon the nature of the business. It also includes leveraging technology and data to offer ultimately new products and services, both by using the technology to more rapidly design, build, and distribute them and use digital assets as part of the new offerings themselves.
Management transformation : In the case of promoter-driven companies, it also means moving to executive-run organizations. When the core management committees make strategic business decisions and better the turn-around time for responding to situations that need attention. Top-down bureaucratic hierarchies aren’t always the best for facilitating rapid decision-making and reacting to new developments in the competitive environment that businesses are striving in. Transforming the management structure may be part of the solution, but empowering individuals to make decisions themselves or quickly reach a consensus is far more critical. This requires socialization and access to information, establishing clear communication channels, and overall transparency in organizational functions.
Cultural Transformation : Cultural transformation is, in some ways, the hardest business transformation activity. Corporate cultures tend to evolve organically, driven by leadership personalities and how people are rewarded and recognized. Changing the culture usually takes much longer than any other type of transformation, in part because it’s harder to translate concepts and intentions into action and practice. It also rarely takes place in a vacuum and has a much higher success rate when it comes to the heels of management transformation. A strong vision, adherence to that vision, and practicing confirming it are all essential to success.
Transformation is a vast subject and can not be covered in one article of a thousand words; it needs reams of sheets to put that together. And by the time we reach the last sheet, it would be ready for another process of transformation. What it means, it is a continuous process, for businesses to transform.
But one thing is sure, transformation can not take place in the past, it only gets created in the future. Past experiences may only give us learnings but the future creates the realm of possibilities today, to create the future that we want.
I will be writing more about the subject, till then identify your possibilities.