Marco D'Avino: When the Front Line Should Lead a Major Transformation

When companies embark on a major transformation, top-down approaches often fail to deliver the desired results. Marco D'Avino, a partner with Bain’s Performance Improvement practice, shares two ingredients that are necessary for a successful line-led transformation.

Read the Bain Brief: When the Front Line Should Lead a Major Transformation

Read the transcript below.

MARCO D'AVINO: When companies decide to launch large transformations, they usually take a top-down approach. Headquarters will take control, set out clear targets, and enforce them. By doing so, you may lose your organization. Both the front line and senior executives will not feel accountable. You may end up cutting muscles and not fat. This may lead to loss of talents and finally prevent your growth.

So in our opinion, the front line must be the center of a transformation. There are three key principles that you want to apply while you go through a front line-led transformation. The first one is, behave like an owner. Your front line and your senior executives must be focused not only on the short-term savings, but on what's going to unlock the future growth of your organization.

The second one is apply a strategic lens to your transformation. Ensure that your program is fully aligned with your group's strategy.

Number three is focusing on the future. You want to ensure that you are focusing on your customers and what they will need in the next decade. And you align your incentives, your initiatives, to that.

Those principles are as important as how we deliver those transformations. There are two ingredients that we want to follow throughout an accelerated transformation. The first one is intent. We want to ensure that the front line and the rest of the organization is fully clear on what we are trying to achieve, our goals.

The second one is accountability. Everyone must feel accountable for their performance, for their deliverables. And those must be linked to incentives. To achieve those, you want to allow the organization to have full tracking and clear transparency on their performance. When we mobilize the entire organization this way, you find out that your front line is not anymore resisting the change, but is actually sustaining the initiatives and sustaining your transformation targets.

Read the Bain Brief: When the Front Line Should Lead a Major Transformation