Churchill Consulting

Organisational Transformation – where to start for success

Organisational Transformation – where to start for success

  • Posted:
  • Category:leadership
  • Offering:Thought Leadership
  • Industry:Business


Transformation Programs are large initiatives that, when executed well, will move an organisation through material, sustained change. We outline the steps to walk through before you start implementing to set yourself up for success.

Companies have been pursuing the concept of Digital Transformation in particular for years, but there is not always consensus on what that means, or how to get it right.

These programs we often see are defined by their high-cost financial nature, or by how reliant an organisation is on a particular legacy system today. This criteria lends itself to reactive decision making, meaning that the effort is less likely to harness the organisation vision, or opportunities to address gaps in what your customers expect.

True transformation initiatives create fundamental organisational change. They involve high levels of complexity and result in significant impacts to the legacy business model. This requires cultural change and will have a sustained influence on customers, suppliers and your people.

What transformation tangibly and practically means for your organisation is unique. Therefore, your actions and solutions need to respond to your organisational position, however far too often we see this approached the other way around.

In our experience, transformation programs are never served well by cookie-cutter approaches, and it’s important to recognise when you are looking to enter a period of transformation, and prepare accordingly.

By understanding the fundamentals around the essential enablers and non-negotiable elements, and stepping through defining your strategy in a logical fashion, you can avoid some of the regular pitfalls before you even start.

Preparing for the road ahead

Let’s consider a common real-world example of building a dream home. Very rarely do we wake up one morning, decide to change our current home and engage a company to do so.

We start by considering our goals and needs, and how these may change over time. We consider the neighbourhood we are in, where we want to be, others in the household (partners, kids, pets and the like) and prioritise the must have features.

We then start on the design process before seeking out an array of skills and expertise to get the job done.

A successful journey for an organisation should follow a similar path. The corporate mission and strategic business intent should translate clearly into the design and execution activities.

This will initially be a light on the hill, a direction that leaders can agree on before the details are unpacked. At this stage, organisations should be determining how ambitious to make the transformation strategy and asking:

  • Are we aligned?
  • What are our aspirations?
  • What is our inspiration?
  • Would our pain points be addressed?
  • What is the compelling case for change?

It is critical to gather these unfiltered thoughts early, canvas ideas and redefine the business model to build consensus and buy-in right from the start.

This stage is also when you can lean on your Transformation partner for independent facilitation and open conversations, using techniques like Design Thinking, Journey Maps and Co-Design to draw on these perspectives.

In short, alignment on the key direction and intent should be clear, before moving to solutions or initiatives.

Defining and deciding your initiatives

Building consensus with stakeholders on details such as solutions, vendors, detailed requirements, or process changes can be hazardous.

Individual voices tend to mirror what individuals know best from the past, which may not be aligned to your new transformation strategy.

To avoid the pitfalls of stakeholder decision making, when breaking down initiatives we recommend you prioritise where you want to go, before working out how to get there.

This ensures discussions come from a place of strategic intent before narrowing into the detail, which can be considered in six broad buckets:

  1. Benchmarking – This can sometimes be done to death and then rarely used. However, with clear pain points already identified, external benchmarking can provide valuable direction when appropriately targeted. These tools offer a wide range of assessments and surveys to help you understand your current situation and set baselines in areas that matter.

  2. Map out the gaps in your landscape – You don’t need boil the ocean on mapping your business, process, data, technical landscape. Our recommendation is to focus only on the key areas of complexity. This includes the detail needed to differentiate potential solutions and size their materiality, for instance to scope system integration gaps, or major bottlenecks for your customers.

  3. Benefits map – Using what you now know, identify, quantify, and qualify the impact and value you can target. The drivers should be pretty clear already by this stage, but further refinement of your assumptions will provide necessary clarity to support buy-in and commitment.

  4. Strategy Alignment – Apply pragmatism to the actions you want to take by focusing on where it matters most for your strategy. Existing ideas and initiatives could be underway already. Aligning these in-flight initiatives to the future direction will promote synergies as well as determine what no longer serves the organisation.

  5. Organisation scope – This is an important lens to apply to your initiatives to scope how broad and deep in the organisation they play and to verify readiness to proceed across the organisation. There are many implications of not understanding the full scope of changes and what they are asking of the organisation and its people.

  6. Capabilities – You will require new capabilities to make these initiatives successful. We challenge our clients constantly by giving an independent view on capabilities needed. Timing is important, for example, not waiting to appoint a change manager until something is about to be deployed, when sentiment and culture have already turned for the worse.

Plan for delivery

Before diving into implementation, it’s essential to map out the enablers for your organisation and prepare for the delivery of initiatives. To undertake a successful transformation, even leading organisations require new skills, training, platforms, and partnerships to be established.

Another key consideration at this stage is about where to source and when to build these capabilities. How can you harness your team’s skill base and when do you need to leverage the scale and expertise in the market?

And when looking externally, going to market with a focus on strategy first will help accelerate the evaluation and selection of vendors.

Critical here is evaluating how the solution will be implemented and by who, as the hard work put into finding the best solution will be rendered useless if the implementation, and therefore the transformation, fails.

With each of these essential elements considered, you will now have a robust implementation plan that, although unlikely to answer every challenge, is strategic and prepares your organisation well for the road ahead.

Churchill can help ensure your organisational transformation is a success. If you are embarking on a material change in your organisation, get in touch Stuart.Hestelow@churchill.com.au to discuss our approach and experience.


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