How to Drive Organizational Transformation: 10 Must-Have Ingredients for Success

Business professionals who want to learn how to drive organizational transformation successfully must understand a few key things.

For instance:

  • It’s necessary to understand the distinction between organizational change and organizational transformation
  • It’s also important to understand that organizational transformation is far more challenging and complex than organizational change
  • And to successfully drive organizational transformation, it’s necessary to have the right change management approach

Below, we will discuss 10 essential factors that will help organizations transform successfully.

The Difference Between Organizational Transformation and Organizational Change

As mentioned, though, the first thing that needs to be clarified is the difference between organizational change and organizational transformation.

An organizational change is a finite business change with a start point, an end point, goals, and milestones. These changes often only impact part of a business.

Organizational transformations, however, are extensive, deep transformations that often change the very nature of a business.

These can involve changes to a business’s strategy, mission, and even its core business model.

Though these large-scale transformations are more complex, they are still built upon a set of interconnected organizational changes.

Change management, therefore, is virtually a requirement, whether a business is initiating a change or a transformation.

How to Drive Organizational Transformation: 10 Must-Have Ingredients for Success

Here are 10 vital ingredients that can help organizations successfully transform.

1. A Reason for Transformation

In many cases, transformations are a response to a crisis or some force that threatens the survival of a business.

After all, such sweeping transformations are costly and risky. Organizations usually will not engage in such a risky endeavor unless it is absolutely necessary.

Crises don’t always drive transformations, however. 

Driven, innovative companies may choose to transform in order to take advantage of growth opportunities, for instance.

2. A Vision

Businesses need to envision what things will look like post-transformation.

That vision helps create:

  • A direction
  • A narrative or story for the transformation
  • Measurable goals

Among other things.

In short, without a vision, an organizational transformation will have no direction and no purpose.

3. Strategies

On the one hand, a transforming organization will adopt a new – or at least modified – organizational strategy.

However, transformations can also involve changes to internal strategies, such as new strategies for each individual business unit.

Just as importantly, successful transformation hinges upon a well-structured change management strategy.

4. Effective, Sophisticated Change Management

Without an advanced change management function, transformations are unlikely to succeed.

Change management offers many benefits, including:

  • Implementing and managing the transformation effort
  • Minimizing negative impacts to business processes and services
  • Overcoming and reducing obstacles to change, such as employee resistance

Among other things.

5. A Roadmap

The roadmap, or action plan, will cover the entire transformation project.

It should also include stage-based roadmaps for each individual change project.

As with any other project, roadmaps need:

  • Goals
  • Milestones
  • Deadlines

As well as other pertinent information, such as employees’ roles, tasks, and responsibilities.

6. A Set of Coordinated Change Initiatives

As mentioned above, transformations are built upon a set of interdependent change initiatives.

Those leading the transformation effort should ensure that these organizational changes are well-coordinated, managed, and executed.

The failure of one initiative, after all, can be detrimental to the entire transformation effort.

7. Strong Leadership

Change management and change leadership go hand in hand.

Strong leaders earn employee trust, motivation, and support, boosting employee productivity and output.

They should:

  • Embody the change
  • Lead from the field
  • Communicate directly with employees

However, business leaders aren’t the only ones who can help lead a transformation effort.

Change champions and advocates, for example, can also provide leadership at the local level, within teams, departments, and business units.

8. Support from Every Level

If all stakeholders aren’t aligned and supportive, transformation efforts will run into significant roadblocks.

Change managers, therefore, should do everything they can to earn the support of:

  • Employees
  • Executives
  • Managers
  • Outside vendors and partners

And even customers, if necessary.

9. Agility

As the saying goes, “No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy.”

This couldn’t be more true when it comes to organizational change and transformation.

While strategies and roadmaps are essential, unforeseen circumstances can throw a wrench into any well-laid plan.

Agile change management is an approach that can help businesses adapt to changing circumstances in real-time.

Ultimately, this will produce much better outcomes than management approaches that are rigid and non-responsive.

10. The Right Culture

Organizational culture affects many aspects of the workforce, including:

  • Their behavior
  • How they respond to change
  • How adaptable they are
  • Their willingness and ability to learn new things

Among other things.

Because organizational transformations involve such deep, fundamental changes to a business, cultural changes are often a good idea.

For instance, cultures that are pro-learning, digital-first, and innovative will be more adaptable … and, as a result, more likely to fuel successful transformations.

Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.