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Leading Change Through Strategic Planning

How leaders can embark on a transformation process

10Feb

Over the last twenty years many companies have adopted a strategic approach that's aimed at making fundamental changes to the way their organisation approaches its operations and processes. The term 'transformation' has come to describe this notion, with many companies looking to become more competitive in today's competitive business environment.

Of the companies that have implemented transformative strategies, many have found it difficult to come out the other side with an improved business model. British Airways, Abercrombie and even Apple are examples of companies that have implemented successful transformation endeavours, but most attempts tend to rest lower on the scale of success and have caused decreased profits or even liquidation.

With this in mind, we take a look at some of the issues that leaders of change should think about;

A clear vision

Having a clear vision that's easily digestible for you stakeholders is essential. It must give direction and inspire your workforce to work together to achieve mutual benefits. There's a chance that it might be a little muddled to begin with, but after a sustained period of transformation, say a year, where things have been experimented with, the vision and its aims and objectives should be crystal clear.

Not communicating the vision

What's the point of spending time creating a vision if it isn't communicated correctly? Considering that you're looking at transforming your company, no stone should be left unturned in terms of communication. It should dominate your intracompany communication, with your vision clear in the minds of all your followers.

Positive transformation attempts require employees to make short-term sacrifices and changes to their routine, and if your transformation vision is only loosely articulated and not followed by senior management, your staff will lose faith and become unwilling to change, even if it is in the best interests of the company.

Not creating an urgency for change

This goes hand in hand with communication in many ways, but leaders should always communicate the importance of action to their workforce.

Many people need to have a tangible starting point from which to begin their own transformation efforts, otherwise, there's a good chance that there will be a lack of thrust when it comes to implementation.

Not only does urgency cause employees to change their ways, but the loss of profit or the emergence of a new competitor is likely to be the catalyst for a transformation attempt being introduced. Some of the most progressive companies adopt change strategies proactively, but commonly attempts at transformation are reactive.

Creating obstacles to change

New ideas, new approaches and new leadership styles will almost certainly clash with traditional frameworks. Whether it's too narrow job descriptions or a lack of relevant training, there's a good chance that fresh approaches to change will be affected by entrenched ideals.

As a leader of change, removing these obstacles will be one of the most essential aspects of a successful transformation effort. Make sure that management is leading by example and that no superiors are setting a bad example.

These points act as a warning for leaders who are planning for transformation. The process will be long and arduous, but if done successfully, it can be the difference between market leadership and liquidation.  

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