The transformation of a company is similar. In this process, too, drawing on existing resources such as experience, competencies, etc., the company system is so radically reshaped that the transformed organization is hardly recognizable to people who have had no contact with it for a long time, because in addition to its strategy, its culture and structure have also changed. In other words, after going through a transformation process, an organization not only has a new self-image and identity, but also new competencies, which is why some of its employees also need new skills and abilities.
So far so good! However, there are also differences between the metamorphosis of a butterfly and the transformation of a company. In the case of a butterfly, the transformation process is genetically determined: First egg, then caterpillar, then pupa, then butterfly. It runs automatically. This is not the case with the transformation of a company. Here, starting from a vision, it is much more important to develop or change the system of the company in a targeted manner through carefully planned interventions.
Transformation processes are complex change processes
This means that every transformation process is ultimately a complex, multidimensional change process, which in turn consists of a large number of change projects that influence each other. The change management competence of the people who bear responsibility for the transformation process must be correspondingly high. To use two terms from agile project management, they must proceed incrementally and iteratively. In other words, they have to check again and again in the course of the process,
are we achieving the desired effects with our change initiatives, and
are we as an organization moving toward the desired goal
and, if necessary, make a course correction or change to the design of the overall project. Accordingly, in addition to their analytical competence, their communicative competence should also be great in order to convey the need for course corrections to those affected or involved.
In transformation processes, the goal is often unclear
The task of planning and managing transformation projects is complex, but not only because of the many influencing factors and interactions that have to be taken into account.
In addition, in the metamorphosis of a butterfly, not only the sequence of events but also the result of the transformation process is already certain at the beginning: The pupated caterpillar becomes a butterfly that dies after a few days if no bird eats it in the meantime.
The situation is different with the transformation of companies. Here, the vision, i.e., the desired end goal of the desired transformation, is usually also subject to reservations - among other things, because this process, which usually extends over several years, takes place in a very dynamic environment, especially during and after a crisis. Today, for example, no top manager in the automotive industry can say with certainty:
How will cars or human means of transportation be designed and built in 15 or 20 years?
If we are still around, who will be our fiercest competitors then? And:
Will individual motorized transport still exist at all in 20 years, or will it be banned then, at least in urban areas, due to advancing climate change?
In developing the vision for their company, managers in the automotive industry can therefore at best be guided by educated guesses based on certain trends and lines of development as well as data and assumptions. However, they do not yet know what the market of their company and its environment will actually look like in 10, 15 or even 20 years. Nevertheless, top managers must start today to make their company fit for the future. The same applies to the management of many companies
Transformation processes require a high degree of agility
Therefore, those responsible for transformation have no other option than to be and remain very agile in project planning and management, even if the subprojects taking place as part of the overall project are then managed classically or hybrid. Accordingly, in addition to their change competence, their project management competence should also be great. In addition, they should be mature leaders with a strong standing in their organization, whom those affected or involved follow, if not gladly, then at least willingly - among other things, because they trust them not only because of their professional competence, but also their personality.
Dr. Georg Kraus
About the author: Dr. Georg Kraus is managing partner of the management consultancy Dr. Kraus & Partner, Bruchsal (www.kraus-und-partner.de), which offers, among other things, training as an "Agile Coach and Transformation Consultant". He is a lecturer at the University of Karlsruhe, the IAE in Aix-en-provence, the St. Gallen Business School and the Technical University of Clausthal.