Business Transformation in 2024

Welcome to today's podcast where we explore the dynamic world of business transformation in 2024 – a topic that is as challenging as it is full of opportunities. Think of transforming a business as sailing across vast oceans; it requires tenacity, flexibility, and a vision that goes beyond what's immediately in front of us.

The word ‘transformation' is widely used in business to describe the strategic shifts companies make to reach their highest potential. Traditionally, companies would first aim for solid financial health and internal efficiency before pursuing growth, adopting new strategies, and embracing technology.

However, here in 2024, change happens so quickly that the old step-by-step approach might not work anymore. Digital innovators are shaking up old industries, creating more value and skyrocketing in worth. Strategies that focus on business ecosystems are thriving, companies with strong environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles are standing out, and finding top talent has become a key goal for executives. In this fast-moving environment, adopting new ways of working, building new skills, and using advanced technology is essential.

Let's look closely at what we mean by ‘transformation'. These aren't just small tweaks; they're big, radical changes that businesses embark on, often to unlock hidden potential or to improve growth and efficiency. Many companies start this process to tackle big challenges, like competition from disruptive new companies, changing consumer habits because of technology, or large economic shifts.

Despite their differences, all these transformations have a digital core, requiring new tech investments and processes. Some digital transformations are so big that they're like journeys in themselves. Others use transformation to guide them towards larger goals – like getting value from ESG efforts, making important mergers or business changes, or integrating diversity, equity, and inclusion into their central values for a wider social impact.

So, who's in charge of steering this transformation? The CEO plays a key role by explaining why transformation is necessary, embodying the change, bringing together a strong leadership team, and being deeply committed. But the role of Chief Transformation Officer (CTO) has become increasingly important. The CTO, acting on behalf of the CEO, has the power to guide the organisation through these stormy seas. While the CTO might oversee hundreds of projects, it's the day-to-day decisions and actions by line leaders and managers that are crucial to the transformation's success.

It's also important to think about how many people need to be involved. Research shows that when at least 7% of the workforce is actively engaged in the transformation, the chances of the company seeing better returns for shareholders doubles. For a medium-sized company, this could mean hundreds of employees.

What strategies do leaders use to reach their transformation goals? They turn big ideas into detailed business plans with clear, time-bound targets for creating value and making improvements. The transformation office, led by the CTO, doesn't just set these goals but also promotes new ways of working and makes sure everyone sticks to the plan.

Regular meetings, supporting different parts of the project, and having a mix of people involved are all key to a successful transformation. But the transformation office also has the crucial job of making sure the organisation doesn't slip back into its old ways after the changes have been made.

What makes a transformation really successful? According to a survey by McKinsey Global, successful transformations have clear signs: using hard facts to find opportunities, giving a strong reason for the change, and putting the best people on the most important projects.

Also, making sure the changes become a permanent part of the company's culture is key to creating value. The real difference between a short-term change and a lasting transformation is making real changes to business planning, how performance is reviewed, and how people talk about their work.

How quickly a company sees the benefits of transformation is also important. The best companies usually see most of their gains in the first year, which lets them reinvest in new projects and keep improving.

Why do some transformations not work out? There are many reasons: celebrating success too early, not being clear about what resources are available, or not adjusting the strategy when needed. Leaders who keep an eye on the long-term goal, make transformation their main focus, and commit to making real changes in the company's basic structure and processes have the best chance of bringing their organisation through to the full potential of its transformation.

In essence, business transformation in 2024 is about pre-empting change, harnessing the full spectrum of an organisation's capabilities, and moving swiftly to capitalise on emerging opportunities. For leaders, it means fostering a culture that embraces change, empowering individuals at all levels, and meticulously charting the course of transformation with clarity and precision. With these principles, you can steer your organisation towards a future that is not just survived but robustly thriving.