Beware the Black Hole of Transformation
Ivey Business Journal
Most business transformation projects fail. Over the past 30 years, countless studies have shown that transformation program managers face the dangers of being sucked into a transformation trap, along with buckets of wasted money. Based on the author’s experience, programs continue to fail at an alarming rate because there are actually three problems that need to be addressed: unengaged leadership, weak governance, and misunderstanding change. Because all transformation projects are business projects, there should be a business leader in charge with an expectation of positive business outcomes. The primary jobs of the leader or business sponsor are to ensure the transformation is defined in terms of business outcomes; sell the vision of the transformation; keep the team focused on the business objectives; engage the team and leadership to drive the transformation; facilitate getting the right information up to the sponsor and back down to the team executing the transformation; and break down the barriers that form when the status quo is challenged. While transformation projects require an engaged senior sponsor, success also depends on having a program manager who can coach the business sponsor. Such managers have five key jobs: build a plan that translates the strategy into an achievable plan with clear milestones and deliverables; coach the sponsor; engage all stakeholders; build an environment of open, honest communication; and manage day-to-day governance.
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