13. October 2022

Tranformation in Uncertain Times: Tackling Both The Urgent and The Important

Transformational times differ from “ordinary” times. For a successful transformation it is to find the right balance between urgent and important matters. I enjoyed the recent McKinsey article on ‘Transformation in uncertain times: Tackling both the urgent and the important’, which lays out insights into effectively balance the two. Some of the key insights that resonated:

  1. Move many pebbles, not just boulders
    To sustain organizational change, leaders must implement improvement initiatives throughout the whole organization and focus on a few priority areas. The authors’ research shows that bold transformation programs that target a granular set of initiatives achieve more than limiting them to a few priorities.

  2. Use the concept of sprints to architect and execute a smart roadmap
    Think about running a number of different initiative sprints in parallel, and one after the other. For example, you can have a series of sprints for the “low-hanging fruits” and a parallel series of sprints for long-term improvements. By cleverly timing the sprints over a period of several years, you will develop a smart and comprehensive roadmap.

  3. Leadership needs commitment, persistence, and tenacity
    Transformations are hard. Especially after an initial wave of initiatives, there can be fatigue and delays. Therefore, it is important for leaders to be committed, celebrate milestones achieved, point out the consequences of missed milestones, and look forward, not back.

  4. Have dynamic program support
    Given the complexity of monitoring, managing, and removing bottlenecks, a dynamic, high-performing program office is required.

The Power of Co-Elevation

In a transformation, it is key to create high-performing teams that cut across reporting line structures. In this context, I very much like Keith Ferrazzi’s

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