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What are the five human factors that make or break transformation?


For nearly 30 years, we have been involved in various transformations around the world, whether in business model, digital, technology and/or organizational aspects, and there is a consistent set of human factors that make this journey successful, or lead to multi-million dollar Loss projects are shelved and changed hands, resulting in the loss of funds. This is a long and arduous process. What are these human factors?


1. Get a clear and concise answer to the question “What are human desires?”, also known as WIIFH (“What are human desires?”).

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In the project proposal stage, more than 80% of the questions raised by potential partners are business, technical, and commercial issues, and a small part are about personnel, which are very tactical (i.e., training strategies and methods; communication and preparation) .

From a business perspective, the description of the project barely touches on the human dimension and lacks a deep understanding of, “What is the desired state to be addressed by change or transformation?” Desires, wants, and fears are deep human needs. If you specify and qualify these emotions from the beginning, you can truly and organically move toward the “North Star” of transformation.

This reminds me of an opportunity with a customer’s journey from ECC to S/4 HANA. My usual consultant did our background research to get to know the client and get an outside perspective. During the pre-sales process, my team works hard to understand the client’s “change profile” and their desired cultural state…not just business goals. What a powerful story. We were able to connect with that client and allow their COO, CIO and CFO to know that we listened, understood and we were going to co-create.

2. Invest time up front to define “What are our ways of working and our guiding values ​​as a collaborative organization?”

Transformation, butterfly concept

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The initial stage of the journey is a decisive one. This is the stage where governance is established, project teams are onboarded, reviewed and timelines are developed.

One aspect that takes the least amount of time is project team culture—the way things work and the shared values ​​that align everyone to their “North Star.” It’s either built in a silo or completely forgotten about, especially as the team grows and the activity gets closer to go-live. Culture sets the foundation for the tone and guiding principles behind decisions, conversations, and people/group interactions. We need to “walk slowly and quickly”, pushing us toward deeper intentionality throughout the transformation process.

Establishing a “way of working” for your project is time well spent. During this massive global transformation, client leaders demonstrated a true belief in their values ​​and how to translate that back to the engagement team. The Regional Director’s Senior Vice President’s involvement in defining how values ​​such as curiosity and collaboration are achieved through meetings and their outcomes, problem solving, and leveraging the strengths of mid-level managers and subject matter experts has an impact on how the project successfully addresses challenges and solves problems. Obstacles encountered during the project. During the stabilization phase, this is further reinforced and resilience and co-creation are visible. There’s no I/us; it’s truly “us” and we’re working together to make it all happen!

3. Intentional resourcing: “What strengths, skills, values, behaviors, leadership and communication styles are important to drive growth?”

Cycling, teamwork, using strengths concept

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There needs to be a level of intentionality in the project’s ecosystem. It’s not as simple as pulling together the “available” people, mixing in some strong middle management, some consultants, and a little bit of hope, mixing them in when the project launches, and voila: we have a high-performing team. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

Think of it like draft picks, there are specific roles to play on the team, and each role needs to deliver key results for the larger mission. Some might say we don’t have time for this; we need to simply meet the needs and move on. That’s what separates championship teams from other teams.

Find the X-factor in each person to create a high-performing team, especially around intangibles (e.g., values, drivers, motivators, fears). Through stabilization, from steering committees, project leaders, and functional resources to intentional resourcing at all levels, it is known that “hope is not a strategy.”

This is one of the hardest components to implement, especially since most teams are already Lean and are limited in adding resources, especially when the goal of the transformation is “lower costs, more efficiency,” which also translates to Lean and despicable organizations. This is no longer a surprise, as we have all likely been in situations where a project had to be put on hold, or worse, put on hold. Either the task force was unable to move forward, too many changes had occurred since the blueprint was developed, there were too many open decisions that required global support, or it was unclear who could drive it. This is when a 12-month plan turns into a 5-year plan, with talent lost in the process.

4. Stick and Carrot Strategy: “What incentives and consequences are needed?”

Motivation concept, stick and carrot strategy

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Humans have an innate need for boundaries, consequences, and motivation to allow creativity to flourish, come up with better solutions, and speed up decision-making. When this is proactively designed and reinforced throughout the transformation process, that’s when the magic happens.

This is going to be quite a challenge if the culture of the organization revolves around the idea that you already get paid to do your job, so any additional incentives are unnecessary. It’s definitely an uphill battle. In one client, what made this possible were experienced leaders who had been through similar transitions in their lives in the past and had seen how much a clear reward and performance management system could do for the long-term retention and motivation of a team. Impact.

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

Team holds brainstorming meeting

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To achieve this from start to finish requires investing in a great conductor—a strong transformation office. It’s a cohesive little unit that deftly steers the ship toward its North Star, aligned with culture and culture. The values ​​of the wider organization and the ad hoc team, with a deep understanding of when and where coaching, structure and discipline need to be inserted, with a pulse on the stakeholders and knowing how to leverage the strengths of the wider team to create the best possible solutions.

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