Ur-Turn (1): Avoid Systemic Failure

4 min

Business Transformation

The process of fundamentally changing the systems, processes, people, and technology across a whole business or business unit.  (Source: Wikipedia)

Two-thirds of digital transformation initiatives fail.

The same holds true for agile transformations. And it has been this way for years.

All the strategic advice and best practices published in the past haven’t reduced the sheer size of the problem. Why not?

It’s certainly not because executives leading the business are utterly incompetent and ignorant. Quite the opposite. They are typically extraordinarily bright and forward-looking people. Otherwise, they would not be in charge in the first place.

The same is true for all the regularly engaged parties: consultants, software providers, and system integrators. Everybody is trying—no, doing—the best he (or she) can to make these transformation initiatives a success.

The roots of this problem go deeper.

We're talking about systemic failure.

Most companies approach their transformation programs from a primarily technological (digital transformation) or organizational (agile transformation) perspective.

They realize that they must leverage the latest technologies to make their processes more efficient and their product and service offerings more attractive. Furthermore, they feel that their organizations need to become more adaptive to successfully respond to increasing dynamic market developments.

Unfortunately, the implementation of state-of-the-art technology or the introduction of agile frameworks alone does not automatically generate better results.

In focusing a change driven by technology and organization, executives tend to shrug off the fact that their companies are complex systems embedded in multiple evolving environments.

Approach corporate transformation in the form of local therapy, and you treat the symptoms of the emergent disease instead of curing it.

In the end, local improvements will only make matters worse: if the signs of a systemic disorder are suppressed, the root cause will only become harder to identify.

So why would anyone do something so shortsighted?

Frankly, because it’s easier.

It’s easier to focus on changing one specific area than it is to scrutinize every aspect of the system and assess the entire business.

Unfortunately, the corporate system behaves like a “typical” system, and there are all kinds of feedback loops that torpedo sustainable progress in your transformation.  Sometimes (and often enough) these feedback loops are so severely compromised that "self-adjustment" is not possible.

Limited clarity about the dynamics of the corporate ecosystem can have dire consequences.

So, what can you do to fare better than the failing majority?

First, you need to gain clarity about the (evolving) conditions that drive systemic change. And second, you need to consider all the system’s components when planning and executing the transition to a better performing business.

Only if you understand and address the interconnections and behavior of your system will you be able to take it to the next level.

Therefore, you must…

  • Situate, or contextualize, the company within its external environment.
  • Identify the intra-company’s structural relationships and interdependencies.
  • Develop a balanced, comprehensive vision and approach for change.

If you want to get more clarity about what we mean specifically, stay tuned. It’s your business’s fate that’s on the line.

The text below is the first part (out of eight) of our new whitepaper on Business Transformation - why most of the initiatives systematically fail and what measures help prevent failure.

Trexcelerator® is dedicated to support businesses around the globe cope with complex transformation challenges successfully - by creating clarity about the organization's environment, the dynamics and dependencies of the internal areas of action, as well as the appropriate transformation approach.

Our tool—The Transformation Board—helps transformation leaders, managers, and coaches envision, explain, enable, and execute transformational change effectively.

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