4 Critical Steps for Organizational Transformation Success

To keep moving forward, stop time-wasting and micromanaging. Focus instead on new capabilities.

The definition of insanity is repeating the same thing multiple times and expecting a different result. And we’ve all read multiple research reports stating that up to 70% of transformation initiatives fail. But if so many of these change efforts don’t succeed, why are so many companies repeatedly using methods that produce such poor results?  

The traditional approach to major organizational change (e.g., driving a culture shift to increase customer-centricity or an enterprise digital transformation) was to create a broad strategy and a robust business case. This effort could take four to six months in a large organization. Once finally approved and budgeted, companies used lengthy approaches to define the details and a roadmap that would eat yet another six months. By this time, customer needs inevitably continued to evolve and more agile competitors were already winning in the market.  

Can you see what is wrong with this picture? How insane is it to make such a significant investment of time, effort and resources, only to be outpaced and fail to achieve your business’s goals? How might we better deliver true transformation and real business results in this era of constant disruption?  

1. Say Goodbye to Wasting Time and Hello to Unlocking Value

Prophet’s 2021 global research study “Fit for Change: Driving Growth and Transformation in the New Future of Work” demonstrates that setting a powerful and actionable future-looking ambition accelerates an organization’s success. It is also one of the biggest levers in Prophet’s Change Fitness Model, a modern model for transformational change management. This offers a framework to assess the varying levels of capabilities for individuals, teams, leaders and the organization as a whole. Most importantly, it is fundamental for organizations to set a clear, flexible roadmap. Conversely, backward-looking analysis is neither an accelerator nor a fundamental. Setting an ambition and roadmap can be done as quickly as four to six weeks.  

2. Get Off the Training Treadmill and Ride the Capability Escalator

​The average spend on workplace training per employee worldwide increased more than 20% from 2008 to 2019. The old way of upskilling talent was to invest a lot of money on training before starting the new work. Yet, that money is better spent wrapping your team with experienced professionals who can model the right mindsets, behaviors and transfer skills, creating opportunities to fuel upskilling through the foundation of trust. Importantly, this foundation of trust fosters the psychological safety needed for employees to experiment and adopt new ways of working – a skillset our global research study suggests is critical to successful change efforts. Trust in your experienced professionals, trust in your talent and trust in them, now

3. Master the Present and Create the Future  

Stop focusing on the current state. When you do that, you lose sight of the future. Instead, hold a destination session – what do you want people to say about your company 5-10 years from now? Too many transformations either solve today’s problems and therefore are a game of catch-up or, conversely, they only focus on problems 10 years out. A narrow focus only on the challenges of today suggests you’re not serious about transformative change. And a focus only on farther horizons might suggest the work is academic. Either misstep risks diminishing belief amongst colleagues that transformation is real or even possible. You must craft a compelling future-back strategy even as you address immediate challenges.  

4. Stop Helicopter Parenting – the Teams Will Be All Right

The old approach to creating new ways of working to foster a transformation was to either sequester a disruptive team of new hires, consultants and current high potential employees away from the main organization or wait and reorganize teams to support the roadmap you spent months building. 

“Self-organized teams decide how to meet deadlines, which results in faster delivery, increased agility, and higher employee satisfaction.”

The modern approach is to short circuit your current operating model and organizational challenges by utilizing agile methods in cross-functional pods and squads model – starting the work now with the resources you have now. These are self-organizing teams where members get to decide among themselves who does what and the team is empowered to remove their own barriers. Self-organized teams decide how to meet deadlines, which results in faster delivery, increased agility, and higher employee satisfaction. 


If you’re hungry for transformation in action, we believe that the most important shift for success is the mindset. We must encourage our teams to feel comfortable with a Minimal Viable Product (MVP), even when everything isn’t framed to perfection. It’s better to be committed to moving forward than be stuck in the old world of arduous, linear plans – especially when time is no longer on our side. It’s time to make experimentation our friend and commit to a new, agile path in service of your transformation destination. 

If you’re looking to fast-track and short circuit your transformation, reach out to our Organization and Culture experts today and hear how we are helping clients just like you.  

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