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When it comes to researching strategies to help you transform your business, you’ll find an abundance of conflicting information.

When it comes to researching strategies to help you transform your business, you’ll find an abundance of conflicting information around what you should and shouldn’t do (it’s confusing, we know).

However, one message that seems to be consistently surfacing is that if you are truly transforming your business, it’s never as easy as what the tin would have you promise. While businesses often start off focusing on the technology side, what they quickly learn is that there is much (much) more to it than that.

“Digital transformation is not about hopping on the bandwagon or jumping on the cool, shiny, new toy. This is what we saw in the early days of cryptocurrency, or when companies race to implement AI or voice technologies without first addressing how they fit into their business strategy. It’s not about slapping emerging technology onto existing operations. That’s a recipe for disaster and a road too often travelled.”

The Forbes Technology Council in 2019

But with 84% of organisations failing at their transformation efforts, the sad truth is that most never make it to their podium finish.

But why? Having a clear road map to the finish line is a good thing, right?

Too often we hear people talking about their digital transformation with a set in stone end destination in sight, the goalposts they are certain they are going to score their “transformation touch down” on.

Well if you simply want to just optimise your existing processes that might be the strategy for you, but that’s not what truly transforming your business is about. Digital transformation is about chartering new territory, it’s a continuous process, not a one-hit-wonder, not only because of the pace at which technology changes, but also because of how quickly your market, competitors, and customers can change. Therefore, it’s about giving your organisation the ability to increase the rate at which it can change, in order to continuously adapt and innovate.

“While [companies] should always have a vision of where they want to go, they should work their way toward it by continually finding opportunities to digitise problematic processes in their core operations.

When they tackle those projects, they’ll learn what metrics to use, which assumptions to revise, where they can introduce new business models, and who their new competitors might be. And as they absorb those lessons, their understanding of their competitive landscape — and the long-term goals they set for themselves — will inevitably change.”

HBR in 2020

Don’t get us wrong, by no means are we saying your strategy can be “let’s just see where we get to”. There is always a need to align to business objectives; what we’re saying is that there are two strategies you can use to approach trying to achieve these things.

  1. Predict and Plan
  2. Sense and Respond

If you’re working in a Predict and Plan environment, you have the ability to understand exactly what will happen when you change something.

(Think about a car engine, every part has a role to play and they all work together in a specific way so if you take out x part you know the exact impact).

With Sense and Respond, your environment is complex, unpredictable, and almost impossible to control, therefore the best you can do is sense and respond. This is where our chess analogy comes into play. Did you know there are around 197,000 different options for the first two moves in a chess game? By the third move, this increases to 121 million? And by the 15th it’s highly possible that you are playing a game that no one else ever has. The same can, unfortunately, be said for business transformation scenarios.

“The exponential growth in options is due to the interdependence of the relationships: move one piece, and the relationships between all the others change at the same time. We don’t win chess through control; we win through responding to what’s in front of us and guiding it over time.”

This is essentially the environment that your business is in when it’s truly trying to transform because it’s not a one size fits all approach, transformation is unique to each business, and requires the ability to adapt and react at every turn.

Transform and Innovate with Network Confidence

Leaven, CCL’s business transformation unit, specialise in cloud adoption, business transformation and digital innovation.

For more on this topic, please read the articles “People Talent Never Comes Second With a Strategic Cloud Transition” and “Do You Have Digital Whiplash?