Implementing sustainable change in a company requires careful management of the pace of transformation, maintaining the commitment of the actors in the long term, and transforming the practices and behaviors in a sustainable way.
The adaptation of skills is the most obvious lever in a transformation plan, but it is far from sufficient to ensure that the challenges that come with this type of project are met in the long term. Such a project can only succeed if the men and women in the company play an active role in it.
There are three dimensions that are essential but difficult to implement:
- Mobilizing the teams around a shared and coherent vision of the challenges and the objective
- Developing a true and complete transformation strategy
- Implementing the transformation by developing changes in practices and behaviors
- Company-wide mobilization - from management to the operational teams - is an indispensable condition for successfully implementing a transformation plan.
The first phase of an operational transformation project consists of setting the level of ambition for the transformation, identifying the objective, and defining the strategy to achieve it. The first phase must be sufficiently short to avoid the tunnel effect and quickly define the challenges, but it always requires time to share the target and draw up the roadmap. Depending on the scope and the level of ambition, this phase should last between 8 and 12 weeks. The deliverables are:
- Key levers
- Business case
- Mobilization of the management board
- Key components of the target (process, organization, governance rules, etc.)
- Roadmap of the transformation and critical human factors
- The development of a transformation strategy must be carried out as a collaborative process, in which our feedback provides valuable input, but in which our customers’ specific needs play a central role.
This joint work will constitute a major step towards ensuring the support and commitment of the key actors, particularly with regard to the question of how the plan is to be implemented:
- At what pace?
- What are the priority areas of action?
- With which teams and what level of availability?
- What are the conditions of success in terms of human resources?
- Implementing change by developing changes in practices and behaviors lies at the very heart of successful and sustainable change.
There is broad agreement among managers that the failure of most transformation projectsis rooted in the execution phase:
- The transformation strategy is poorly translated into detailed plans
- The problem is underestimated and it is assumed that once the issues have been identified, “they will sort themselves out”
- Insufficient or non-sustainable mobilization of resources
- Failure to transfer skills
- Downgrading of the initial objectives
- Failure to manage resistance to change
That is why we are convinced that:
- The quality of project management must not be neglected
- The continuous input of expertise must be maintained until the end of the project, in order to guarantee that the target is well defined in accordance with the objectives
- The fundamentals of change management must be respected (communication, transfer of skills, management of the HR implications, etc.)
Particular attention needs to be paid to these aspects, because the risk of a loss of momentum is higher in the implementation phase. In this phase, it is more than ever important to communicate the targets to be attained as well as the associated challenges.
At Argon Consulting, the first phase of a transformation project is conducted by very experienced teams, including the Partners, who are closely involved.
We can provide support in the following ways:
- Rapid diagnostics of the current situation by our teams
- Identification of the levers of improvement as early as possible
- Discussions with the steering committee, particularly in connection with our best practice guidelines
- Recommendations on the transformation strategy, based on our broad experience of numerous projects
The transformation process is usually executed in two phases:
- A phase of intense mobilization, resulting in pilot tests, quick-wins,and industrial-strength deployment methods. This first phase is essential in order to:
- Translate the strategy into detailed plans
- Demonstrate the benefits through pilot tests and quick-wins
- Better prepare for the follow-up phase, in order to cut costs and cycles
- A deployment and extension phase, in which the risk of failure is high and there is a temptation to consider that the project will succeed if the pilot tests have been successful and therefore to “lower one’s guard”. The project management challenges in this third phase consist of:
- Ensuring that resources remain available and committed
- Changing track according to changing circumstances
- Making all the schedules visible to encourage emulation
- Guaranteeing that the gains are still achieved
- Adapting solutions at the margins (or not, in certain cases) to take specificities into consideration
Our modus operandi combines our unique business expertise in subjects that are often complex with a joint team effort to guarantee that the complete context and the objectives are taken into consideration by our teams, and that the proposed solutions are continuously adopted.