• Mark Newman

5 Pillars of Organisational Transformation

Updated: Jul 23, 2018

In today’s world, organisations understand that change and transformation are set to become ever more critical to their business success. Businesses need to be agile, to be adaptive and respond to the changes that are happening all around them. This is essential to stay competitive and relevant in an environment where fast change is normal and set to become a growing influence on how we work.

Performance is multidimensional. For a change in performance to be genuinely effective, it will need to have an overarching impact on;

  • Strategy,

  • Process,

  • People,

  • Culture and also

  • Technology.

When looking at Agile transformation it makes sense to start small. To try and implement Agile in one function or area of an organisation, evaluate its success, and then extend this to other areas the business. Yet even where the initial focus is one department, it’s important to consider all five pillars, so that the new ways of doing things are cohesive and can be successfully scaled elsewhere – even across multiple and diverse locations.

Organisations are not deterministic

Drafting strategic plans works well at board level. It’s when the plans start to move towards implementation that problems occur – turning that strategy into a reality. This is because organisations are not deterministic. We cannot predict how an organisation will respond to plans because organisations are made up of a complex network of humans, and a consistent culture and behavioural norms generally don’t exist across a large enterprise.

When tackling large scale transformation projects, we have to accept that there is a lot we do not and cannot know, which is why an Agile approach with an iterative test and learn cycle can work so well.

By focusing on the role of all five pillars, we can gain clarity on how the business strategy affects any individual part of an organisation. Behavioural change is only a part of the picture. Transformation programmes need to build efficiently on existing business processes, to explore the specific information needed by specific teams and departments, and considering where it can best be placed to be easily accessed. Systems need to take into account existing cultural norms and the assumptions that people have, in a way that allows these to evolve during the transformation process. Established team behaviours will also have an impact.

When discussing transformation, it’s easy to focus on the behavioural aspects of change and overlook how new behaviours can and should be supported by organisational systems and technology. In today’s world, humans are learning how to get the best from technology without losing valuable aspects of their humanity. We need to take a holistic view, giving our attention to both the cultural, systems and technological aspects of change to ensure that transformation is both enduring and effective.