Transformation in 2018 – What Really Matters? (Part 2)



February 20, 2018

In the first blog of this series we explored the most significant drivers for transformations in 2018 as well as what they mean in terms of leadership challenges. We recognised that technological advances have placed us on the brink of a Fourth Industrial Revolution and yet we find it hard to change to keep up with revolution that is taking place around us. In this second blog of the series, we will consider where we need to focus, to succeed in overcoming those challenges.

Get ahead of the game or sit back and see who survives

We have some big choices to make in 2018. We can proactively look ahead and write our own story for our future, or we can choose to adopt a “cave man” style approach to transformation and sit back to see who survives

When North Highland surveyed more than 600 senior leaders across a broad range of industries in global organizations with revenues in excess of $1 billion around their priorities and plans for 2018, they reported optimism over both current and forecasted performance. However, this was tempered by a low belief (between 37% and 45%) in their preparedness to achieve their top priorities.

History is littered with the skeletons of organisations that chose to wait and see what others would do. Do you want to sit back and be overtaken or get ahead by intentionally focusing on what you need to do to get there?

To succeed with intention

If you’ve decided to get ahead then to succeed with intention we recommend that you focus on the following five areas above all else.

  1. Constantly tell the story of your future

Transformation will only truly take hold if you are constantly engaging and motivating everyone that is touched by your transformation, not just the team you have working directly on it. Be clear on why you are transforming, what you are transforming into, what your outcomes will be, the scope of the change, and have the narrative to support them. Use your story every day – it is your future, so you can’t afford to be fuzzy about it.

  1. Develop your strategy & roadmap before you’re overtaken by disruption

Truly transforming your business involves taking big risks. Successful leaders know how to spot risks early and find ways to navigate them to stay ahead. This requires a clear strategy and prioritised roadmap for how your future vision will be achieved. Otherwise you’ll rapidly lose sight of your priorities and become overwhelmed with the day-to-day. Finding ways to harmonise and prioritise these needs and deliver the outcomes that keep your organisation thriving is the greatest skill of a transformational leader. Build in clear timescales and measures for success to keep you on track, reduce risk and continually focus employees. Oh, and keep updating it. Nothing stands still anymore.

  1. Define your own legacy

What brought success for you up to now is no guarantee of success in the future. Strong transformational leaders succeed by looking ahead and spending time thinking about how they will need to behave to succeed in their future. They constantly check in with themselves and those around them, asking, “What are we going to be remembered for?”.

  1. Co-create personal value and shared ownership

Transformation shouldn’t just happen at the top. For transformation to succeed we all need to be motivated to be role models and change our behaviours. Great motivation for change comes through being part of its creation. When we have been part of creating the story, the strategy, and the roadmap then we are connected to our future and we are invested in its success. When we are told what to do by our boss we may well do it, but we won’t go the extra mile. This starts with the most senior leaders, who must share their thoughts and ideas with their teams and invite their input. This input can then be included, and shared ownership is formed.

  1. Bring outsiders inside

Getting the right team in place to succeed with complex transformations is hard. We need leaders who can look to the future and plot a creative path to get there. We need day-to-day operational excellence to excel right now. It is a delicate balance and means intentional investment to change the way leaders are developed and supported. It also means looking outside our organisation to find the leadership talent you need to succeed. The same team that got you here won’t get you there. There may not be many transformational leaders out there, but you need one who’s been through it before. There is no substitute for experience.

There are no shortcuts, so focus

Disappointingly there aren’t any easy ways to transform. It is tough out there and no one is sitting back and succeeding without putting in the effort. But you can’t do everything, so focus. Do the right things, do them well and your transformation will be the catalyst to accelerate your vision and make it a reality.

This blog is followed with part 3  that explores what our clients think following a breakfast event that was held in London at the end of February. In case you missed it, check out Part One of this series here