Why Enterprise Transformations Fail: It Comes Down to One Thing


When I look back at my first startup, it’s clear that we had zero clues what we were doing. “Making it up as we go” should have been our company tagline. There were five of us, the market was competitive, and we had little funding. Yet somehow, we created an innovative product, helped a Fortune 500 client transform how they worked, and even turned a small profit. So how was this tiny team of five able to drive this transformation when our deep-pocketed client could not?

 

Do you have it where it counts?

As Han Solo once said about the Millennium Falcon: “She may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts.” So, where does it really count for enterprise transformation? Let’s first understand the single biggest factor that causes big firms to fail in this area.

 

It took 10 years of working with large enterprises before I began to see it -that one thing. These large companies had loads of resources: smart people, sizable market share, and plenty of budget to throw at ideas. So what obstructed all of this from transformative goodness?

 

Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard the saying, “Time is money”.

 

Raise your hand again if you’ve seen that play out in the workplace numerous times.

 

So, basically everyone!

 

“Time, more than anything else, is either a force of destruction or growth”

 

More than anything else, time is either a force of destruction or growth.

 

The most successful organizations find ways to master time and harness its power. Startups and nimble businesses harness time to go faster. They are built for achieving speed to value. But when time is not controlled, it can end up killing ideas, innovation, and companies.

 

In large companies, time can slow everything down. They are built to support a steady-state with thousands of legacy models. Transformation attempts in any area of their business cause friction –and friction isn’t fast.

 

The friction of time

Where does time create friction in enterprise transformation? Pretty much everywhere.

 

Here’s a shortlist of activities that chew up an inordinate amount of time:

  1. Understanding the right ideas and approach to focus on transformation efforts and investment
  2. Organizing skilled teams and project plan for the necessary outcomes
  3. Identifying employees’ skill gaps and align training to support the new ideas
  4. Measuring, tracking, and guiding projects to enable transformation ideas
  5. Distributing project outputs, promoting adoption, and measuring results for an effective feedback loop

 

While big companies will never be as fast or nimble as startups, by replacing friction with speed and agility in the right areas, they can achieve transformational change. The combination of their size and market reach can propel them into the categories of Market Leader and Innovator.

 

So how to apply this? With digital transformation spending to hit $1.7T by 2019, success or failure will be determined by where the investments are directed. The savvy operatives will apply Han Solo’s advice so that they not only go faster but go faster where it counts.

 

There are tools and accelerators that can help businesses improve speed to market and drive transformative ways of working. To understand how these tools can help overcome friction, let’s look at those five areas again – this time through the lens of solutions:

  1. Understanding the right ideas to focus on transformation efforts and investment
    What if you could rapidly crowdsource inputs from the people who know your business the most? They can be your employees, partners, and customers.
  2. Organizing skilled teams and project plan for the necessary outcomes
    What if you could deploy team expertise on-demand within a structured delivery system?
  3. Identify skill gaps in employees and align training to support new ideas
    What if you could deploy a personalized learning system to accelerate employee knowledge and application of digital skills?
  4. Measuring, tracking, and guiding projects enabling transformation ideas
    What if you could use digital assets and accelerators that will enable an agile-centered way of delivering products enabling management, business, IT, and design for mutual visibility and alignment?
  5. Distribute project outputs, promote adoption, and measure results for an effective feedback loop
    What if you could deploy a solution that leverages artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to drive user adoption of digital products through real-time data analytics, AI, and digital marketing techniques?

 

In future posts, we’ll explore the areas of opportunity for Fortune 500s to execute on. No time to waste!



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