The Trouble With Transformation

Well-informed leaders and managers know by now that the digital economy calls for them to innovate, digitise and transform their companies. Despite this, many struggle in knowing what and how to transform, which results in a less than satisfactory approach to transformation.

The enthusiasm around strategy is clear, but the ability to successfully execute strategy is where many companies lack sufficient capability. You can invest heavily in a state-of-the-art racing yacht, but if you lack the capability required to take it on its journey, the outcome will be disappointing.

I’ve listed below, 12 of the reasons that account for the many of the poor attempts to transform:

  1. Treating transformation as a technology initiative.
  2. Not understanding the difference between change and transformation.
  3. Thinking transformation is all about digitising marketing and operations.
  4. Selecting solutions before business transformation strategy is defined.
  5. Not closing the capability gap between strategy and execution.
  6. Launching initiatives without aligning the to business outcomes.
  7. Failing to measure and report non-tangible return on investment.
  8. Embracing on transformation without sufficient transformation management capability.
  9. Assuming their operational teams can quickly become transformation masters.
  10. Not appreciating the difference between technology projects and digital business transformation.
  11. Lacking the experience to define and embed effective transformation governance.
  12. Lack of experience in managing mindsets, culture and organisational change.

Let’s also consider the findings of some of the big names in research.

By 2020, 75% of businesses will be digital, or have digital business transformations underway. However, only 30% of those efforts will be successful.

– Gartner

By 2018, 70% of siloed digital transformation initiatives will ultimately fail because of insufficient collaboration, integration, sourcing or project management.


Only 30% of respondents are aligning technology or analytics with business outcomes well or extremely well.

– Genpact

By 2020, 60% of digital businesses will suffer major service failures due to the inability of IT security teams to manage digital risk.

– Gartner

Strategy that leverages innovation and digital is just the beginning of any transformation journey. The question is, are you properly prepared and experienced in navigating the voyage ahead?

Who is capable of the portfolio, programme and project management of your initiatives? Who will establish and execute the organisational change management strategy? Who will design and embed your transformation governance and manage the value management and benefit realisation process?

Be diligent in who you elect to fill the transformation management role. There’s a lot riding on it!