5 essential strategic steps to transform your organization

Leaders must approach organizational change with an integrated perspective. These five takeaways, which emerged from our survey of more than 1,000 business leaders, will set your organization on the right path.

What can leaders learn about turning ideas into reality from the most adaptable organizations? For any organizational transformation to work, leaders must bridge the gap between design and delivery with strategic initiatives that lay the foundation for lasting, meaningful change.

Of course, there will always be obstacles to even the best-laid plans. Limited resources, insufficient technology, skills gaps within internal talent, and a lack of processes for guiding strategy are the greatest challenges that executives face, according to the Brightline 2020 study, titled Mastering Strategy Implementation in Transformative Times

It’s not enough to address each of these roadblocks separately. Leaders must approach organizational change with an integrated perspective. For example, the latest technology and vetted frameworks look great on paper, but without adaptability, they’re set up for failure.

These five takeaways, which emerged from our survey of more than 1,000 business leaders, will set your organization on the right path.

To tackle strategic initiatives, you must excel at transforming

Strategy and transformation go together—you can’t have one without the other. High-performing organizations are about twice as likely to report effective organizational change. Meanwhile, transformation capabilities are a core competency linked to successful strategic initiatives.

But some industries are pulling ahead of the pack and are already more successful at transformation. Automotive/transportation (82%), technology (77%), manufacturing (76%), and consumer goods (75%) report the fastest adaptability rates.

Faster-transforming organizations upskill internal talent

As your business evolves, overcoming the skills gap may be one of the biggest challenges you face. Hiring new talent may be part of the solution, but faster-transforming organizations are nearly twice as likely as slower-transforming peers to focus on developing internal talent.

Not only do long-term employees have a stronger personal investment in your organization, but they likely have a better understanding of their responsibilities and how to meet goals. Organizations that are fast at transformation prioritize developing talent that is able to quickly make decisions and delegate and empower teams.

Formal workflows lead to higher performance

Frameworks are essential, but which ones deliver results? They can provide the underlying discipline a business needs to be dynamic during a period of change. While 93% of leading organizations have formalized processes in place, all frameworks aren’t created equal. The most successful frameworks allow employees the ability to adapt continuously.

When asked, 86% of high-performing organizations noted their adaptability, versus 70% of average performers, and fewer than half (48%) of low performers. Meanwhile, 76% of high performers report being “very capable” or “capable” of balancing business operations with strategy implementation. This swift footedness is key during transformations when challenges arise and it’s necessary to course correct. And that means reviewing lessons learned from past failures, speaking with customers or end users, or reevaluating milestones and timelines.

You need cutting-edge technologies to keep up

Organizations that are successful at implementing strategy rank using new technologies as their number one competitive advantage. They see advances like artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing as critical to their success. Yet tech falls to the number three priority for less successful organizations.

This disparity may be because technology becomes considerably less useful in the face of ineffective leadership and toxic organizational culture. To succeed, it needs the right environment—and framework—to flourish. When integrated into broader business goals, the top platforms that improve strategic implementation are automation (41%), cloud computing (38%), and AI (37%).

Visionary goals require dedicated leaders

Executives consider effective leadership the most vital factor for transformation success. Organizations that transform quickly have leaders who set positive examples and commit to tangible goals. Every member of the C-suite should be prepared to handle these initiatives. While CEOs (34%), COOs (21%), and CIOs (15%) are the most common leaders, don’t overlook CTOs (Chief Transformation Officers)—even if you don’t have one yet.

Creating a CTO position can close the leadership gap and ensure that someone makes transformation a day-to-day priority. CTOs are adept at formalizing processes, ensuring efficient handoffs between teams, and serving as a central orchestrator for devising and delivering on objectives.

To learn how to successfully transform your organization, Read the full report

Published on 21 April 2020, by Brightline Initiative