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Transformation: Engagement and Readiness of the Chief Executive Leader

Written by Terri Wallin

The chief executive leader of an organization is the ultimate owner of organizational transformation, including changes in the culture and vision. However, before step one of the Transformation EquationTM, the chief executive leader must engage and ready the organization for transformation. Here are four key points, including considerations for successful transformation:

chief_executive_transformation_equation1. The executive leader must have a vision and a strategy to implement it.  If you answer “no” to any of the following questions, your ability to transform will be at risk:

a. Do you have a vision?
b. Do you know how to articulate your vision?
c. Do you know how to develop or lead development of a courageous strategy related to the vision?
d. Do you know how to execute or lead through execution of a vision?

2. Strategy development must include a plan for communicating with and achieving buy-in from stakeholders. Stakeholders are a diverse lot and if not bought in, can sabotage successful implementation. How have you included the following into the communication and implementation plans?

a. Customers – existing and new audiences
b. Board of Directors
c. Management Team
d. Employees
e. Community at large
f. The global community and leaders

3. The strategy also includes thoughtful consideration and resolution to the following questions:

a. Do the current customers want a change in vision?  How do you know?
b. Do prospective customers like the vision?  How do you know?
c. Do the people in charge of execution have the skills to carry out the vision?
d. Does the current business model support the vision?

i. Do you have the right business structure (corporation, for profit, not for profit, etc.)?
ii. Do you have the right corporate structure to support the vision (Board and management structures)?

e. Does the current infrastructure support the vision – building(s), parking, technology, and people?  And if not, what are the capital resources and plans to ensure the infrastructure is in place prior to execution.

4. Once you have an inspiring and articulated vision with a courageous strategic plan, then execution planning can begin. Brilliant execution is a result of comprehensive planning. If you fail to plan well, there will be a higher risk for failure. Execution includes the following considerations:

a. Sequencing of components. Not everything can nor should be done at the same time due to the impact to the organization at large.  If you have structural or corporate issues, solve them first. Not having the proper structure or leadership members can seriously jeopardize transformation success.

b. Reasonable assuredness of customer need. If you haven’t probed your market – existing or future, you must or you are guessing whether or not what you have envisioned is something they will buy or stop buying.

c. Timing of execution. This requires evaluating organizational and community/global happening into the timing of execution.

e. Barriers and issues related to the vision and execution. Clearly outlining what the barriers and issues are followed by a mitigation strategy for each will help identify potential areas of failure.

f. Evaluation of readiness prior to execution. Is the market and organization ready? If a critical element is not resolved, sometimes it is the better part of wisdom to move your timeline to allow for resolution.

g. The type of execution that leads to the greatest success—a big bang implementation, where everything is implemented at once or incremental implementation over a longer period of time. Depending on magnitude of multiple geographic regions and sites, how the organization is structured to operate, and the impact to customers, it will dictate the process for execution. If the organization can spare the time and money, it often makes a better learning environment if the execution is done incrementally.  This allows organizational learning with the ability to adapt the plan given the learnings and improve the opportunity for organizational success at large.

Don’t misread the outcome if it feels like execution is a non-event.  That means it was extraordinarily successful because the vision, strategy, planning and execution were done well. Another success contributor is when there is greater stakeholder buy in and the organization and community are ready when the implementation happens. The greatest reward from successful execution is customer and employee satisfaction – their satisfaction is critical and both audiences become keys to success when involved.

It is prudent to obtain outside help if transformation is not your strength – in the long run it costs less and your tenure as a leader is lengthened.  Transform your organization now and call an expert if you need help!

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