The Five Human Factors That Make Or Break A Transformation

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With nearly 30 years of being part of various global transformations, whether business model, digital, technology and/or organizational, there are a number of human factors that make a journey successful or where millions of dollars go down. drain as the project is shelved, changes hands and thus becomes a long and difficult journey. What are these human factors?


1. Get a clear and concise answer to the question “What is man’s desire?” Also known as WIIFH (“What’s in It for a Man?”).

Business transformation, progress concept

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More than 80% of the questions asked to a potential partner at the project proposal stage are business, technology and commercial. There is a small part of the people side that is quite tactical in nature (ie learning strategy and approach, communication and readiness).

A project description from a business perspective barely touches on the human dimension. There is no depth of mutual understanding. “What is the desired state that the change or transformation addresses?” Desire, desire, and fear are deeply human emotions that, when initially concretized and qualified, allow for real and organic movement toward the “North Star” of transformation.

That reminds me of an opportunity where a customer is making their journey from ECC to S/4 HANA. The regular consultant in me did our background research to understand and look at the client. During the pre-sales process, my team made an effort to understand the client’s “change profile” and their desired culture…not just business goals. What a powerful story! We were able to connect with this client and let their CEO, COO, and CFO know that we listened, we understood, and we would co-create.

2. Take time in advance to define “What are our ways of working and our guiding values ​​as a collaborative organism?”

Transformation, butterfly concept

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The initial phase of the journey is a defining point. This is where governance is established, the project team is operational, and schedules are checked and approved.

One of the aspects where the least amount of time is spent is the culture of the project team—the ways of working and the shared set of values ​​that align everyone to the North Star. It is either established in a silo or forgotten entirely, especially as teams grow and operations move closer to live. Culture sets the tone and guiding principles behind decisions, conversations, and human/group interactions. We must “go slow to go fast,” moving ourselves to a deeper level of intentionality during transformation.

Establishing “work paths” for a project is well worth the time spent deliberately. During this large-scale global transformation, the client’s leaders demonstrated a true belief in its values ​​and how it feeds back into the project team. Engaging regional directors and SVPs to identify how values ​​such as curiosity and collaboration were translated into reality through meetings and outcomes, problem solving, and leveraging the strengths of middle managers and subject matter experts impacted the program. smoothly faced the challenges and obstacles encountered during the project. This was further reinforced in the stabilization phase, where flexibility and co-creation were visible. There was no I/we; it was truly “us” and a do-it-together mentality.

3. Intentional resources. “What strengths, skills, values, behaviors, leadership, and communication styles are critical to moving the ship?”

Cycling, teamwork, strengths concept

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There is a level of intentionality that needs to be in the project ecosystem. It’s not as simple as gathering people who are “available”, mix in some strong middle managers, some consultants and a little hope, mix them in at the start of the project, and voila. we have a high performance team. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.

Treat it like a project choice, with specific roles to play within the team and critical outcomes each role must achieve for the larger mission. It can be said that we don’t have time for that. we should just fill the need and move on. This is what distinguishes the championship team from all others.

Find the X factor in each individual to create a high performing team, especially around intangibles (eg values, motivations, motivations, fears). Deliberate resources from the steering committee, project manager and functional resources at all levels through stabilization, as we all know that “hope is not a strategy”.

This is one of the most difficult components to enable, especially since most teams are already lean and limited to adding resources, especially when the goal of the transformation is to “reduce costs, increase efficiency,” which also translates to lean and means organization. This is one that is no longer a surprise, as we have all probably been in an engagement where a project had to be stopped or worse, delayed. Either because the project team couldn’t move forward, there were too many changes after design, too many open-ended decisions that required global buy-in, or there was no clarity on who would be able to move it forward. This is when a 12-month program becomes a 5-year program, where talented people are lost in the process.

4. Stick and carrot strategy. “What are the motives and consequences that must be?”

Concept of motivation, stick and carrot strategy

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Humans have an innate need for boundaries, consequences, and incentives to enable creativity, better solutions, and speed of decision-making. When this is actively designed and reinforced during transformation, that’s when magic happens.

It is quite a challenge if the culture of the organization revolves around a philosophy; “You’re already paid to do your job,” so no additional incentives are needed. Undoubtedly, a difficult battle. At one client, this was brought to life by experienced leaders who had been through similar transformations in their past lives and had seen the difference a clear reward and performance management system could make to long-term team retention and motivation.

5. Last but not least, “What does it take to organize the first four?”

The team gathers to brainstorm

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In order to do this from start to finish, there is a need to invest in a great conductor’s stable conversion office. It is a small cohesive unit capable of steering the ship to its North Star, aligned with the culture and values ​​of the wider organization and project team, with an understanding of when and where coaching, structure and discipline should be. is included, has a pulse on his stakeholders and knows how to leverage the strengths of the wider group to create the best possible solution(s).

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