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  • Writer's picturePierre Brzustowski

Why do so many transformations fail and exhaust employees and managers?

There's no doubt that the crises and disruptions that companies have to deal with have followed one another in an almost uninterrupted stream for almost 50 years, since the famous oil crisis of 1974.


Sudden changes in economic environments are followed by technological breakthroughs and the emergence of new competitors. We need to innovate, conquer new customers and new territories, digitalize our processes, be more agile and productive, work with start-ups, respect the planet and biodiversity... The list of objectives and managerial watchwords is long!


Managers have no choice but to mobilize their companies to adapt and transform, and to set ambitious targets. As we seek to determine and execute our own strategic path, we also must consider the dynamics of our ecosystems. It's all about staying in the top league and delivering results that meet the expectations of our profession and investors.


Unfortunately, we must admit that, despite what we thought were carefully thought-out transformation plans, achieving the expected results remains a major challenge, and, let's face it, disappointments abound. They are exhausting for managers and employees alike.


Attributing failures to a lack of alignment within teams or to resistance to change, blaming one or the other and renewing management teams at a high rate is not enough. Let's face it, transforming companies in depth and on an ongoing basis is an art that needs to be learned and practiced!


LET’S STOP OPPOSING STRATEGY AND EXECUTION

The first common error lies in the separation, stemming from our Cartesian culture, between strategy design and execution. Too many decision-makers see conception as a noble activity and execution as purely operational, a stewardship that will follow. This distinction does not reflect reality. If a strategy fails during implementation, it's usually because it was designed without taking into account the organization's capability to deliver. In other words, the strategy was inappropriate from the outset. An effective strategy must be based on the organization's skills and the pace it can set for itself. It must anticipate and integrate the constraints and difficulties of execution.


LET'S STOP PILING UP PRIORITIES

Another key point to address is the intrinsic conflict between the company's current performance and the creation of its future structure. The sometimes-contradictory injunctions emanating from management, such as "innovate!", "transform yourself!", and "achieve your objectives!", generate a confusion of priorities. Field managers find themselves juggling a multiplicity of priorities, all supposedly vital. These priorities become competing objectives.

The point lies in identifying the fundamental challenge and committing to meeting it, even if this means reducing attention to other challenges. As we all know, to decide is to give up!


LET’S HELP MIDDLE MANAGERS ARBITRATE BETWEEN THE SHORT AND MEDIUM TERM

In fact, it is the managers on the front line, those who are criticized for their lack of mobilization or even resistance to change, who are empowered with the delicate task of resolving conflicts of stacked objectives. They are responsible for implementing the transformation plan devised on the executive level. However, they are trapped in a conflict of commitment between medium-term transformation and short-term results. The pressure to achieve the latter is often overwhelming, as the consequences of failure are immediate and tangible. On the other hand, the impact of a delay in transformation is less clear-cut and difficult to measure in the short term. This dynamic naturally encourages them to focus on the benefits to them of immediate results, to the detriment of the more abstract, direct benefits of transformation. As you can imagine, aligning the reward system with objectives is a critical factor in guiding action.


LET'S GET INVOLVED IN RESOURCE COMMITMENT DECISIONS

Senior management plays a crucial role in managing these conflicts of commitment. It's less a question of execution than of resource allocation decisions. The more we invest in transformation, the more we reduce the resources available for current performance, and vice versa. The ability to effectively manage the necessary trade-off will determine the success of the transformation.


LET'S ASSUME OUR ROLE AS LEADERS WHO LIGHT UP THE FUTURE

Transformation is a difficult but necessary journey. Successful transformation depends not so much on devising a brilliant strategy, as on how well we anticipate its execution and manage resource commitment conflicts between the short and medium term.


We leaders must assume this role; make difficult choices between priorities and time horizons; recognize that the absence of choice invariably leads to the preservation of the present to the detriment of the future. There are no right or wrong choices, only choices that are taken on board and often difficult to make. We must be prepared to make them for the future success of our company and our employees.

Let's not give in to fatalism. Successful transformation is possible! Let's approach our role as leaders with courage and perseverance:

  • Providing vision and ambition,

  • Being persistent in action, prioritizing battles and allocating the necessary resources,

  • Taking care of mobilizing as many people as possible, promoting commitment by giving sense, communicating the progress achieved, always ensuring that actions are in line with words, helping to arbitrate between the short and medium term,

  • Ultimately, achieving results and successes that benefit as many people as possible, whether through personal growth, embracing just causes or contributing to a rewarding collective.


Looking for a successful transformation ? Don’t hesitate to call for Impact 4 Business services. We provide Executive with the complementary skills they need, in the way best suited to their specific context: consulting, interim management and senior advisory.


If you'd like to find out more, please get in touch with us: contact@i4b-partners.com


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Impact 4 Business is a collective of partners who provide company executives with the ability to multiply their resources. Our team members all have over 25 years' experience and combine a strong background in strategy consulting (McKinsey, BCG, Bain, Kearney, Oliver Wyman...) and operational leadership (CEO, BU Director, Executive Committee members). Our aim is to "Get your teams up and running like an Executive, while structuring the project like a Consultant". Tailored to your needs, our engagements combine consulting, executive interim, and mentoring.

To find out more: www.i4b-partners.com



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