DOHA, QATAR — We’re working on four different ‘transformation programmes’ at the moment. Combined they are on three continents, in over 30 countries.
You would think that would provide some shocking contrasts. But it does something quite different. It shows startling similarities.
Everything has superficial differences: language, geography, industry, structure…
Yes, those can seem superficial.
The issues in big business transformation generally fall into two buckets: human and process.
When I worked in the airline industry we used to talk about “human factors in aviation”, and I thought that was very funny. In that, without humans we would not need commercial aviation at all… so humans were a pretty key ingredient.
Transformations can be seen the same way. Strategy teams and professional project managers can seem quite content to act as if humans are not involved.
And how many businesses exist without ‘human factors’?
Coordinating, informing, involving, managing, aligning, working with and working around humans is one of the hardest parts of any transformation.
Ask anyone with the scars of a big change programme, successful or not, and they’ll say communication and people are the two most under-appreciated areas.
Businesses need a sense of direction. Even restaurants must know what is important (filling tables) and what to do to try to fill more.
However most large businesses are more complex than that. With function, regions, business units and many horizontal layers of people influencing or directing each others’ work.
To create and sustain a sense of direction you need processes.
There is no one set of words or no single way of talking to people. You cannot expect a data specialist to need the same information as an assembly line worker.
In order to be clear on what you are saying, to create a core of content and to move and support the transformation you need to have a plan… several plans often… and many processes to follow to see that you are consistent, coordinated and coherent across all of your business.
And then you need to sustain that over time.
Same, same, not always different.