Business leaders already need to display courage and confidence to embark on transformative initiatives.
As I outlined in my previous post, adopting an even more radical and rapid approach to transformation will push these boundaries further, drawing questions such as: Are the promised outcomes even possible in such a short timeframe? This must be too good to be true?
An open state of mind, a can-do attitude and mutual trust are the key ingredients to be employed throughout the three distinct phases of Radical Solutions, Fast Feasibility and Rapid Alignment shown here. Aided by the additional principles below and by a strong, energetic moderator who models the right mindset and behaviours and who can bring out the best in participants, encouraging them to step out of their comfort zone, this approach can yield amazing results.
1. Prepare, prepare, prepare
Seek out facts and figures and build a granular understanding of the efforts involved in delivering value in terms of people, money and time. However, be pragmatic and accept reasonable approximations.
2. 'Cut the elephant in slices'
Tackle each slice (i.e. process step, product feature) in turn. This will help the team build confidence in approaching a problem that might otherwise appear too large and complex to solve.
3. Put together a dynamic cross-functional team
Choose people who are driven and ambitious as well as competent in their field. Seek out rising middle managers who embrace change rather than top-of-the-pyramid heads of department or function. Avoid people who have a stake in defending the status quo, for instance, because they built it.
4. Set a bold and freeing ambition
To compel thinking outside the box, shoot for a seemingly unattainable target that can’t be reached by just improving the existing ways of working. Push teams to embrace a creative can-do attitude to truly challenge the status quo with radical ideas. Ask, for example, “How can we cut the cost or time of this process step by 50%?” Be direct and provocative in questioning: “Why do we or our customers need a given step to deliver value?”; Take a ‘zero base’ approach to thinking: “If the business was started fresh, how would we do it differently?”; Build on others’ suggestions, however outlandish, and don’t tear them down. Accept the uncertainty of the ideation before moving to idea validation.
5. Switch to pragmatism for analysis and validation
After constraint-free ideation, a fact-based assessment of transformation ideas will quickly render the craziest ones impossible. But test them before discarding – there may be some diamonds in the rough at second glance. Drive your multi-disciplinary team to do this in no more than 10 to 15 days, in ‘sprints’.
6. Maintain focus on radical but feasible solutions
Here collaboration comes to the fore. With a cross-functional team in the room, direct a singular focus on building solutions that will deliver well-rounded, robust results but have a radical impact on performance.
7. Implement at pace
Prioritise rapid execution and seek to apply an agile approach to implementation wherever possible. Implement light but buttoned-up progress tracking and ensure top-management focus on the transformation being visible to all.
8. Energise the business
Given the cross-functional genesis of the change program it’s a natural opportunity to galvanise the troops across the business. Leverage the radical transformation to generate excitement and energise teams in all functions: e.g., appoint ‘champions’ or ‘ambassadors’ at all levels and of course, communicate, communicate, communicate.