Too often companies waste a transformation opportunity by taking the path of least resistance when choosing the people to bring out change. David Michels, leader of Bain’s Results Delivery® practice in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, describes why an organization's key players are needed for a smooth and productive transformation.
Read the Bain Brief: Never Waste a Good Transformation
Read the transcript below.
DAVID MICHELS: An organization's next generation of leaders are often formed in the challenging environment of a business transformation. What we mean by that, using the word transformation, is when an organization is pulling on multiple levers changing multiple things at the same time, be that organizational structure, operating model, strategy, a set of cross-functional initiatives oftentimes. And often, we see leadership teams adopt a sort of governance construct, in order to accelerate that transformation and facilitate all this cross-functional work that needs to happen with the appointment of a chief transformation officer or equivalent sort of position often supported by a central transformation support office, infrastructure, and then, of course, a set of initiative leaders that are driving various initiatives.
Now the staffing or appointment of those positions is an absolute make or break set of decisions. It's absolutely make or break, because the things that are learned, the relationships that are formed in this kind of environment, at the level of scale and the level of pace that most transformation has, are absolutely formative, right? The access to the CEO management team, often the board, the access to additional training and coaching, the cross-functional nature of all of the work that's going on are excellent learning platforms for people.
Unfortunately, what often happens is the path of least resistance, which is to take good people, but people who are more available than perhaps your franchise players or your A players that should be taking those roles. Why? Because they're already incredibly busy, all roads lead to them. They already have lots of work piled onto them. And to fight against this path of least resistance it often requires a set of courageous decisions on behalf of the leadership team and often by the CEO him or herself to break a little bit of glass and to free up those key franchise players for these particular roles. That's what we mean when we say never let a good transformation go to waste.
Business transformations are a golden opportunity to find the next generation of high-potential leaders.