Business Transformation – Executive Anxiety

Executives often realize the need to transform their organizations when historical advantages have been eroded or when they are performing far below industry benchmarks.   In both cases, they come to the realization that the organization’s long-term survival is at stake.

In my experience, Executive Leadership has always had significant anxiety when it comes to transforming their business.  The notion of unfreezing, changing and refreezing new business processes and systems is viewed as both risky and more art than science.  This anxiety typically comes from two main sources:

  1. The ability to achieve a workable business strategy
  2. Confidence in the organization’s ability to execute    

Of these two areas, Executives have more trepidation around their ability to execute then their ability to set strategy and define a vision.   Executives frequently question middle management’s ability to properly involve the organization to solve business problems while gaining wide-spread buy-in.   This fear stems from the thinking that one group of people forcing change on another will ultimately fail.

Executives also question the wisdom of spending significant money on process re-engineering and new business applications if user adoption will be poor.  Moreover they know that influencing employee attitudes and behavior is hard work and is often miscalculated.

The Solution (Collaboration, Change Leadership, Capability Building)

The solution to this problem is to deploy appropriate Change Management techniques through-out the transformation life-cycle to facilitate gradual and incremental buy-in.  This mandates appropriate collaboration, change leadership and capability building.

Through frequent collaborations with existing process owners and staff, the design and roll-out of the transformation can actually serve to motivate employees.   By having teams involved in the process, setting goals, solving problems and working towards the new business processes and systems, the transition to the new model is greatly facilitated.  This fact is well proven:  When we choose change for ourselves and are part of the decision process, we are far more committed to achieving success (5 to 1 rule).  Thus, having the organization discover and plan their own future creates transformational buy-in.

Just as important is the need to deploy a skilled change leader (role model) and support team to manage the transformation. This leader needs to tap into the workforce’s primary motivators, create a compelling story of why change is necessary and unleash organizational energy towards the change.  By creating a compelling “Change Story” that includes beneficial impacts to society, customers and the survival of the company and the employee, individual resistance can be overcome.   Likewise, by communicating the down-side risk of not changing as well as the upside potential, organizations can begin the mental acceptance of the need to change.

Communication techniques that we often deploy throughout the lifecycle include management road shows, executive town hall meetings and recorded webinar training sessions.  In addition, we always establish a mechanism for listening and obtaining feedback from the organization.

Another factor in creating lasting change is building organizational capability through training and support.  Developing a plan to sustain change and optimize the operation once it is in place is critical to reinforcing the transformation.   This makes all the difference between doing something and doing something well.

Business Transformation and Change Management Assistance

While it is well known that many Transformation projects fail to meet their objectives, having appropriately skilled Change Management expertise through-out the Transformation lifecycle is a critical success factor.  If your organization is considering Business Transformation, HBSC Strategic Services can provide the appropriate Program Management and Change Management expertise to help.  For more information please contact us at or visit our website at

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