Everyone in your team looks to you for direction and vision. You are the leader, the visionary. It is completely natural to feel pressure to excel in what you do because the success or failure of your company completely depends on how you lead your team. You have worked your way up the ladder to be a member of the elite C-suite, so how can you make the most of where you are and what you have?
If you already recognise that your company needs transformation, then you have already completed the first step of the process. Most of the time, the hardest part is admitting that something needs to be changed. So take heart. You’ve already taken the first step in the right direction.
Regardless of how established your company is, leading a transformation is going to challenge you. A complete transformation requires recalibration of your company’s technical systems, work culture and mindset, as well as interpersonal relationships. You may not know where to begin or how to inspire your team to be on board with your plan for transformation. That’s completely natural. You’re not alone.
After recognising that a transformation is necessary, start by clearly defining your objectives. Take a step back and analyse the current situation of your company. Determine what is working out well and what needs to be changed. Take some time to write down your thoughts so that you can see things in black and white.
The two main objectives for any business transformation are enhancing customer experience and gaining efficiency to improve the cost-to-income ratio.
Since your customers drive your business and yearly profit, you must invest in making sure that your customers are satisfied with your product or service and remain loyal to you. If you can establish loyal customers, you can almost guarantee a continued profit.
The second objective is to fine-tune and recalibrate technical systems within your company so that your employees can become more efficient. This may include creating a more data-driven decision-making process, introducing artificial intelligence and automation, building new employee platforms, and defining other processes and systems that will simplify your organisation. The more efficiently your company functions, the easier it is to invest more time and energy into more complicated aspects of your business. When your employees no longer have to engage in repetitive, mundane tasks, you free them up to tackle those activities which will actually move the needle for your business.
Once you have clearly defined these two main objectives and the direction you want your organisation to take, you must consider the path through which you can attain your goals. Based on your objectives, begin by designing new emerging business models that can direct you towards your vision.
Think about how you can orchestrate an ecosystem within your organisation that will drive growth. Look into establishing new partnerships that may be valuable in accelerating your path to transformation. You would hinder the growth of your company if you try to fix, change, and solve all of your problems on your own. Seek out new relationships that can support your growth and transformation.
Before embarking on your business transformation, be careful to break down any misconceptions that may hinder your progress. One of the greatest misconceptions is that data strategies and automation are unnecessary. In our ever-advancing technological society, an organisation must prioritise implementing technology in order to be future-ready.
When considering automation, many assume that automating certain processes will ultimately replace jobs. But this is not the reality. A lot of research and trials have demonstrated that we are moving into a future where both machines and humans will collaborate to augment human labour and drive better business outcomes. While it seems like machines can take over almost everything, they can never be human. The ability of a human to combine past experiences, lessons from failure, and envision the future far exceeds any machine. The human touch is and always will be a necessity in every organisation.
Another misconception that your employees may have of the leadership team is that transformation is limited to where money is invested. While money does play an important role, greater transformation can come about even in the absence of sufficient financial resources. With my team, I found that we were able to come up with the best innovative ideas when there were significant constraints. If you’re passionate about innovation and transformation, there’s always a way to embrace your limitations and work around them to bring about transformation.
So the real question that needs to be answered is, “How can we bring about a culture change where our team is empowered and given the responsibility to break silos in order to focus on greater outcomes?” When this shift in mindset happens, no constraint is too great to overcome.
Moreover, your team needs to realize that they have a valuable role to play in the business transformation, regardless of their level of seniority. The motivation of your team will then be stronger if they work for a vision rather than an individual.
A sports retail company called Decathlon has already started to implement a horizontal hierarchical structure. Without a boss, the employees must be committed to work collectively for business growth, transformation, and customer satisfaction. This sets the stage for more collaboration and greater success. The next generation has already been raised with an open mindset and the expectation that their voice matters regardless of their position in an organisation. So, the more you cluster and confine your team to a specific expertise without creating opportunities for cross-functional collaborative work, the more you kill their drive and stifle their strengths.
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President Ogilvy Health ASIA | Former Managing Director, Southeast Asia
Ogilvy Asia | Ogilvy Consulting