Why Faster Transformation Works

Today we are all rapidly reinventing our organisations as we respond to an overwhelming number of disruptions – from pandemics, storms and reforms, not to mention new competition. At Fire up, we refer to this transformation on the go as ‘rebuilding the plane as you fly’. So why does it need to be fast? And why is embracing faster transformation as ‘simple’ (and difficult) as changing your mindset? 


It needs to be faster than you think 

COVID has undoubtedly been a significant disruptor, and often a rapid response has meant survival. But do we need to respond so quickly now? As we look ahead, it’s not just about survival. It’s reinvention to thrive and become future fit.  

Actually yes, it needs to be much faster than you think! If you want your organisation to become future fit, you need to see results within 3-5 months. That’s because ‘the rate of change [in your organisation] needs to be at least as rapid as the rate of change outside’, according to Julian Birkinshaw from LBS*.

So how can you speed up your change? It’s tough. You just can’t stop and rebuild like you did in the past.  

Traditional ‘industrial age’ transformation is way too slow

The ‘industrial age’ model for transformation – the stop and rebuild model – typically takes over 18 months to implement. It’s way too slow. And over 70% fail.

If you want your transformation to move at pace, it can’t be about big programs or large teams of consultants. It’s like we are trying to ‘fight the last war using structures and methods designed for the previous era’, according to Julian.

So why do we still think this is the ideal model? Simply put, it’s because we still think of our organisations as massive, slow-moving ‘industrial age’ machines with many moving parts. 

If you fire up your people: you will get faster transformation.  

Organisations are NOT ‘slow-moving’ machines. Most organisations are still made up of lots of people, all trying to work together to deliver services to your customers. In particular, in human services, it’s all about your people.

If you Fire up your people the right way, you’ll get the behaviour shift you need on masse. That’s when you will get rapid transformation and get most of your results within 9-12 months**.

But it comes right back to your mindset (and that of your leaders). 

Leadership teams have the greatest influence on the success of change – over 50%! 

One of the biggest risks is falling back on what we know – the Industrial Age approach to transformation. Unfortunately, it’s going to happen! 

You can start by checking your own mindset. It will influence the very first set of actions you take.  If you want to people in the centre of your transformation, you need to engage hearts as well as heads and ‘exhibit decisive action coupled with emotional conviction’. 

You have the right mindset if you:

  1. Take immediate action. You can’t wait. Start now. Show ‘decisiveness and strong action orientation.’ Start small, get traction with small steps, and scale fast. Just being able to demonstrate results at each step powers up your change.
  2. Don’t focus too much on analysing the past. While it’s useful to start to build an evidence base, there is no need for ‘analysis paralysis’. Picking over current problems just slows you down. It can also be so disheartening, it disengages your people. Why dig deep for data to prove what your people already know? 
  3. Engage your people right from the start. You’ll create a powerful momentum for your change. People want to be listened to, they will embrace the change they create themselves. Spur action by connecting them to something bigger through a narrative or story that ‘creates a stronger emotional connection to those around them, rather than ‘sterile, big-data-driven decision-making.’ 

Rapid innovation in aged care. ACH group’s narrative around the future of ‘good lives for older people’ was a huge factor in inspiring and accelerating change over 12 months. It all started by listening to carers first. Leaders and carers then shaped a narrative that appealed to their common purpose and the exceptional experience they felt elders deserved. 

Take a moment to reflect. What is the pace of change in your organisation? Where are you focusing all your effort? Do you and your leaders have the right mindset for rapid reinvention?

If you’d like to talk it through, feel free to book a discovery call below. 

* Fast Forward, Make Your Company Fit for the Future by Julian Birkenshaw, LBS.2017.

**McKinsey Study 2021

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