Organisational transformation is all about people, dummy

For transformation projects to succeed, they require the people that make up the organisation being transformed to be bought into and actively involved in the transformation.

Not some special projects transformation tiger team off in a corner, nor some outside consultant or consultancy firm who won’t be there in the long term and therefore isn’t invested in a successful outcome as long as they get their fee.

That’s easier said than done of course, not least because those same people have to split their time between keeping the day to day running and making time for implementing change and improvement.

The trick is to have a roadmap of small incremental manageable changes made in every area of the business, rather than big step changes, or improvements in one part of the business not matched by improvements elsewhere, and executive management encouraging a top down, bottom up holistic culture of continuous improvement such that the organisation’s natural state is one of managed change rather than dogmatic adherence to the status quo.

A mature, high quality organisation is not one that rigidly adheres to inflexible processes published in standards manuals, it’s one where the organisation intrinsically applies good process adapted for the particular needs, propagating processes that work and killing off practices that don’t. That’s done by recognising that an organisation is made up of people, not SOPs, ISO documents and accountants’ spreadsheets.

People make up the organisation, so if you get the people to change how they work, the organisation will change. If you try to change the organisation without changing the people, you end up with two organisations, neither of which is operating efficiently. Indeed, it’ll be worse because of the friction between the two.

But by far the biggest blocker is that those individuals who consult on transformation want to make it sound hard and complicated when it doesn’t have to be.

The saddest thing of all is that this has been known for 70 years ref W.E. Deming et al. but those selling it in 2016 act like they just invented it.