Apparently 80% of ‘transformations’ projects fail…

Take Action, step by step, to avoid transformation project traps

Yet again, I find myself mopping up the silt and slime left by a “financial transformation” and it really does make me wonder, were these “hidden costs” included right back at the start, was it ever a good idea at all?
Transformations, by their nature are large programmes of work, often taking years to deliver, they are not iterative improvement processes. And in my opinion, therein lies the problem…Transformation requires massive change, over a large number of people on a culture that is used to changing in fits and starts, with changing focus as management and circumstances change.
Way too much change-ability and thus doomed towards failure, developing a culture of continuous improvement enables a much lighter footprint and therefor is easier to redirect.

Regardless of if your change project is large or small this table outlines how and where to avoid project traps.

Change Stage

Actions Needed


Establish a sense of urgency• Examine market and competitive realities for potential crises and untapped opportunities.
• Convince at least 75% of your managers that the status quo is more dangerous than the unknown.
• Underestimating the difficulty of driving people from their comfort zones
• Becoming paralysed by risks
Form a powerful guiding coalition• Assemble a group with shared commitment and enough power to lead the change effort.
• Encourage them to work as a team outside the normal hierarchy.
• No prior experience in teamwork at the top
• Relegating team leadership to an HR, quality, or strategic-planning executive rather than a senior line manager
Create a vision• Create a vision to direct the change effort.
• Develop strategies for realizing that vision.
• Presenting a vision that’s too complicated or vague to be communicated in five minutes
Communicate the vision• Use every vehicle possible to communicate the new vision and strategies for achieving it.
• Teach new behaviours by the example of the guiding coalition.
• Under-communicating the vision
• Behaving in ways that undermine the vision
Empower others to act on the vision• Remove or alter systems or structures undermining the vision.
• Encourage risk taking and non-traditional ideas, activities, and actions.
• Failing to remove/convert powerful individuals who resist the change effort
Plan for and create short-term wins• Define and engineer visible performance improvements.
• Recognize and reward employees contributing to those improvements.
• Leaving short-term successes up to chance
• Failing to score successes early enough (12-24 months into the change effort)
Consolidate improvements and produce more change• Use increased credibility from early wins to change systems, structures, and policies undermining the vision.
• Hire, promote, and develop employees who can implement the vision.
• Reinvigorate the change process with new projects and change agents.
• Declaring victory too soon — with the first performance improvement
• Allowing resistors to convince “troops” that the war has been won
Institutionalise new approaches• Articulate connections between new behaviours and corporate success.
• Create leadership development and succession plans consistent with the new approach.
• Not creating new social norms and shared values consistent with changes.
• Promoting people into leadership positions who don’t personify the new approach


50 ways to Improve your Cashflow

Download our free checklist showing even more ways to improve your cashflow – 50 in total