Transformation: Lightning Rod or Lip Service?

  • 02 Mar 2020

Transformation: Lightning rod or lip service?

Ask any CEO in Australia what’s on the top of their agenda, and the answer will inevitably be some form of Transformation. Reasons can be either reactive including economic uncertainty, or proactive such as technology innovation. In most circumstances it’s usually both!

The best transformations can save a business and enable long term sustainable growth. Done badly, transformation becomes a by-word for panic and upheaval.

So, what are the common dilemmas, and how can you get it right?

Why do transformations fail?

Sponsorship, who cares?

Does the CEO really care or understand the true value and objectives of why you’re about to cause organised chaos in their business, and does this align to the overall business strategy? Do the board understand the long-term objectives? And crucially is the CFO willing to open their wallet?!

A change is gonna come

So, your CEO, CFO and NED’s are on board! How about the rest of the business? Are they with you? Can they visualise how their world will change, and do they see the necessity? Change Management is cornerstone of any transformation. Without a clear plan of operational impact your team risk confusion, dissolution and apathy.

Eyes on the prize

How are you measuring the success of your transformation? Do the metrics align with your strategic ambition? Activity in itself is not the holy grail, unless it delivers in line with a well-defined and achievable scope.

Rearranging the deckchairs

Markets change and technology disrupts. Today’s solution is tomorrow’s problem. Bricks and mortar retailers may have a world beating e-commerce model, but can they turn back the tide of Amazon and eBay as consumer habits change? If your transformation is irrelevant to the long-term prosperity of the business, it’s about as much use as a chocolate teapot.


How can you maximise the chance of success?

“You’re the voice, try and understand it”

Always be talking about what you are doing to all stakeholders big and small. Having significant success? Great! Let everyone know. Struggling to overcome a bottleneck? Share the challenge, you never know what insights you might learn. Quick wins mean visibility and credibility. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.

Own the show

Design clear accountabilities across the executive team, align reward mechanisms clearly to the groups transformation to ensure collaboration across divisions, and act swiftly if any part of the executive team fails to play ball.

Right team, right time

Transformation is group effort. Building a stable and effective team is a key component to getting program deliverables over the line. Transformation leaders are not subject matter experts. it’s about stakeholder engagement and defining a clear roadmap to success. Hire people who share your vision and drive and don’t worry about every box being ticked, especially when it comes to technology exposure.

The bottom line

While an ability to relate a vision is important, your skill around understanding the numbers and budget are equally crucial. No successful transformation comes cheap, but this isn’t an excuse for a blank cheque. Know your warning signs through an active PMO structure, otherwise you risk the dream turning to dust.

Successful transformation is a social movement—one that individual employees join willingly. Transformation is most successful when diverse people come together for a common purpose, guided by inspiring leadership and a clear path forward.

Transformation should never be the responsibility or priority of one person, team or division, every fibre of the organisation needs to be included. Be clear what you want to achieve. Be ready to listen to different and conflicting ideas. But above all be honest and accountable in everything you do.


If you would like to find out more about how T+O+M Executive can help with your transformation project, contact

Richard Massheder, Head of Project Services and Change Management.







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