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Boldly going where no one has gone before

I am not a Star Trek fan but a famous quote from the 60′ & 70’s iconic program was Captain James T Kirk saying, ‘to boldly go where no man has gone before’, which is starting to resonate with me more and more as I discuss with leaders how their businesses are changing. 

Transformation, in recent decades, has largely been a multiyear delivery with substantial internal and external resources requirement to support what tends to be a seismic transformation programme office. 

Speaking to executives from a variety of industries both before and after the global pandemic of COVID-19, I am now starting to see what the new transformation normal is. The new normal being an extremely dynamic approach with lightning fast delivery timescales, some may say ‘warp speed’ delivery, at rates never seen before. 

In many organisations of today, three years of innovation and transformation is being delivered instead in months, and not necessarily through choice. So how is this now possible or as Spoc would say surely ‘this is highly illogical’? 

Decision making is key 

Traditionally, where there would be a relatively large transformation team governing change there has been a shift in leadership and direction that is making global organisations smaller, nimbler and less bureaucratic. Decisions are being made faster and with greater accuracy, thus unlocking endless potential but this is not without risk. 

Expect to fail quicker 

I have never seen failure necessarily as a bad thing provided that when you fail you fail fast and learn from it. If organisations are now in a warp speed delivery mode then the traditional planning, governance, and analysis is certainly not possible at a detailed level. Businesses are now aligning their delivery models with less governance and more agility than ever before, preferring pragmatism over idealism. 

Teams need to be ready, pro-active not reactive, and  dynamic in their response to change should they need to pivot on their intended course of action. 

Accelerate your digital plans 

It is not the time to plan a strategic roadmap of change for the next 3-5 years. Many executives continue to remain in crisis planning with those 3-5 years being accelerated to 3-5 months. The transition out of this to a more stable momentum is key but the pressure to deliver quickly will continue to intensify.  

The only way to support the level of change required at the right momentum, is to deliver a robust digital roadmap complimenting your processes and people, enabling organisations to be reactive and nimble as we enter this new normal. 

Warp speed delivery: 

So, if the new transformation normal is warp speed delivery, will there be large teams in the future driving delivery? Again, we are seeing increased focus on the prioritisation of roles with more internal resource delivering transformation, rather than relying on external third parties. More and more organisations, even pre-pandemic, were embarking on delivering transformation from within. This moves them towards building internal capability that enables non-specialists to lead and deliver transformation faster yet with high levels of accuracy. 

This seismic shift is beginning to challenge those service models such as consultancy, where large firms have led those typical multi-year transformation initiatives; significant external resource, increased costs and timescales alongside an over reliance on external support. 

This new transformation norm is now tearing up the rule book with those typical cost and time metrics being even more paramount. 

We are now venturing into what is referred to in  Star Trek as ‘Deep Space’, or simply put unknown territory. This may be the most exciting time in business for decades and leaders of transformation need to be bold and drive for new frontiers, where no one has gone before. 

I guess all that’s left to say is ‘beam me up Scotty!’ 

This Article was a collaboration between co-author Andrew Eatherington and co-author David Fenton.

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