One of the greatest risks faced by businesses today is transformation.
There is risk in embarking on a transformation initiative, and there is risk in not.
With the current tide of technological change, rapidly evolving markets, and world events, the risk of not transforming is almost as great as achieving any ambitious plan.
However, looking at the tales of transformation success and failure, a clear theme that emerges is that successful transformations are the ones that focused on culture, and were driven by inspired leadership.
Instilling a culture that is comfortable with, and embraces, change ensures that transformation can become a way of doing business, delivering not just agility, but resilience, and reducing risk.
The very nature of transformation is deep change. And change of course, is always difficult. Often, communicating the need for change is challenging and complex, requiring new approaches.
Sometimes transformation is necessary even though the business appears to be doing just fine. Insightful leaders, enabled by intelligence from business analytics and market data, can often foresee that change is required to meet future needs or opportunities. Other times, a business might already be experiencing difficulty, and the prospect of further change to cope seems like a bridge too far.
In either case, the old model of corporate communication is insufficient. Telling people change is necessary is not enough, people need to be informed of the value of change so that they can come to their own conclusion about its necessity, thus becoming supporters and implementers of that change.
However, many organisations do not realise that they may already have a significant capability already adept at communicating value: the content strategists.
Ever since the as-a-service revolution, organisations have had to adapt to new ways of communicating why a customer should invest in their products and services. This is less and less about speeds and feeds, and more about outcomes, the value delivered. But because that value is delivered continuously, as a service, the old means of communication were defunct.
Transformation requires the communication of value. Business leaders that have adopted the content strategy approach of illustrating value are the ones who have brought people along the journey and empowered them to deliver change, and are ready to do so again, as needed.
Successful transformations have been led by those business leaders who were able to simply describe why transformation was necessary, what that transformation entailed, and how each and every person within that organisation contributed to it. This methodology focuses on the value of change to the organisation, and clearly defines what the organisation is transforming into. Clarity, focus, and the expression of value are the key pillars of this content-led approach.
Content strategies often outline for customers why an organisation does what it does, the way it does. Transformation communication can benefit similarly. Sharing the strategy for transformation lets people within the organisation know the reasoning, logic, and evidence behind the change, further instilling a sense of involvement and ultimately support, that will ensure success.
Great leaders share their own change as not just an example, but also as an inspiration for what can be achieved. The CEO needs to transform just as much as a line worker, business unit manager or other CxO. By communicating their own change experience, just as in a content strategy, that CEO can show they are willing to do the work, achieve the milestones, and share the success. It is also a powerful example to show that if the CEO can take the time to do what is necessary, so can everyone else.
This is another key point of transformation: sharing milestones and successes of the transformation gives people reassurance and hope. Deep in a process, communicating the achievements and milestones of a transformation programme can serve to bolster support that might be wavering. Letting people know when things are going well and that their efforts are contributing to it can address fatigue and disillusionment that are inevitable along the way. We all hear that transformation is a journey not destination. In many cases for those who might be anxious about change, this can be misinterpreted to mean never-ending. Addressing those manifestations early on can ward off the kind of lethargy and disengagement that has hampered transformation efforts in the best run organisations in the world.
As part of any transformation programme, communication must be a key element of the strategy. A content style approach that focuses on the expression of value delivered by business leaders at every level, is vital to instil a culture in the organisation that understands, and consequently supports, change. The organisation that is ready for change is agile and resilient, and thus ready to meet the pace of change in today’s world. The value-driven approach to communicating change can significantly reduce the risk of a transformation programme.
Bliss and PJH Consulting offer masterclasses empowering and crafting well-researched brand awareness and content strategies to increase thought leadership, trust, and engagement for inspired business leaders. Contact us to learn more.
Paul Hearns is a journalist, commentator, and consultant with more than twenty years of experience in the ICT sector.