Using business transformation hothouses to drive successful transformation

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  • January 28, 2013
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Business transformation is a leadership initiative, typically by the senior management team, that aims to align an organisation’s initiatives, relating to people, process and technology, closely with the organisation’s business strategy and vision. The initiative aims to support new business strategies to meet long-term objectives of profitability and growth. Value is generated through monetising operational efficiencies gained.

The benefits of a business transformation programme are typically expressed as an end state (for example) 50% increased revenue,  30~% cost reduction or margin improvement, reduction in end to end cycle time for service delivery by 10 days, a measure of quality, or 25% improved in customer satisfaction scores.

The two key challenges in articulating and executing it are a coherent transformation strategy (not fluff) and an execution methodology that realises the benefits of the transformation and ensures sustainable change. 

Using business transformation hothouses to drive successful transformation

A business transformation hot house brings together all the stakeholders including operational, business owners, developers (in case of IT), enterprise architects and programme teams together in immersive 2-3 day session to co-create joint outcomes.

The advantage of a hot house is that the change is engineered by the organisation and not the consultant and hence the buy-in by the leaders and members to deliver it is the highest. A burning platform of a serious need for change usually sets the scene for such an intervention.

What will a business transformation hothouse cover? Typically a business hothouse covers one of the two main themes of transformation 1) an early stage hothouse that defines a strong transformation strategy addressing a key business challenge and comes up with doable, affordable solutions or 2) a second stage hothouses that takes a given transformation strategy and builds the governance around realising benefits from its delivery and ensures the change is sustainable and easy to implement.

Why is it different? It differs from standard workshops, which are usually run by a team of facilitators, where inputs are sought at the sessions and outputs collated, generated, and circulated after the event. The participants do not grow their management experience. In a hot-house careful leadership and facilitation techniques combined with master classes in techniques for successful transformation used to ensure that teams self-organise, learn cutting edge techniques and create joint outcomes with all the members present. The outcomes are presented, challenged and agreed by all before the event closes.

Author’s note

Viren Lall is the secretary of the Benefit Management Specific interest Group (BM SIG) of the Association of Project Managers (APM), promoting professionalism in benefits realisation particularly from a change leadership perspective to over 1700 members across the UK. He speaks at national events in the UK on embedding change in large transformation programmes. A keen and well respected facilitator, his 3 day business transformation hothouses have been voted the best in BT’s corporate memory. He has led business transformation in a global services organisation, in a key influencing role, and has trained over 200 managers in 2011-12 in principles of transformation strategy, benefits and embedding change. He trains leaders globally from corporate and voluntary sectors in management concepts such as “systems thinking”. He is also working with two of UK’s top management schools in developing executive education programmes in change.

Viren has an Executive MBA with distinction from the London Business School and an MSc in Advanced Computing from King’s College London and B tech in Computer Science and Engineering at IIT Delhi. He was awarded the Dean’s award from King’s College London in 1999.

- Viren Lall, London