Transformation initiatives – sustaining early success is a challenge Part 2

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In my last blog I introduced how transformation initiatives start with great excitement and then how the enthusiasm seems to diminish with time.

Read it here.

Here are some potential reasons why things do not seem to excite so much anymore and what we could do to remain focused and motivated.

#Results are not so dramatic anymore

It is understandable that the first days would give more opportunities of improvement and thus results would be more dramatic. Once you have some improvements in place (and the low handing fruits are taken) it becomes a tad difficult to come up with similar numbers, it’s rather less dramatic in nature and that affects the enthusiasm, perhaps.

#Changing priorities at the top

I have read somewhere, the term, initiative fatigue. This occurs when leaders jump too quickly from one initiative to another, thereby losing sight of the ongoing programs. After all, starting a new project is always more exciting than staying the course of an existing one. This causes teams to lose focus and fatigue sets in after the initial excitement. Further, team members get distributed to assume different other roles in new initiatives.

#Reality bites

It is one thing to be part of an exciting planning journey of a new initiative and quite another when it comes to execution. Carrying on with the momentum during execution is equally important and this is where lot of the key team members start feeling less excited and are itching to be part of another “new” initiative. This not only hinders progress but also demotivates the team in general.

#Going back to our comfort zone

In my experience, people in the team become conscious of the fact that more time commitment would be expected from them to make the initiative a successful one. And the fact that there is high focus of the top management makes us uncomfortable. So, after the initial success, the team pats themselves at the back and declare victory. Then, slowly, the team tends to move back to the old ways, the comfort zone. I have heard many successful and efficient team members complaining about the work pressure and time crunch they face and want to get into a more relaxed situation.

Now, what measures can be taken to ensure that the momentum is carried through in a more sustained manner and the team continues to deliver keeping in mind the end goal. I don’t think there is an easy answer to that or a list of steps that will ensure this. But, in general, from experience we can discuss certain areas of focus.

Finding ways to keep the momentum going

It is common to have a set of crusaders and detractors of any transformation initiative in an organization. Now, when the initial quick wins results are digested it becomes harder to hold on to the attention that the program had grabbed in the beginning. This is the time when more long drawn strategic activities would take place and therefore results come late. This is when the “not so supportive” group gets its act together to diffuse the focus on the program and campaigns for another initiative with the management.

In my example of the large bank above, it is imperative to understand that to make the organization nimbler and faster to react quickly (to Fintech threats) the organization needs to establish certain digital native practices including portfolio management, digital architecture, agile development processes (introducing DevOps into product delivery et al) etc and that takes time and sustained investment. Otherwise, transformation would take place in pockets and that is no true transformation, rather sporadic tactical initiatives.

To hold onto leadership sponsorship, people in charge of the ongoing initiative need to act with the goal of marketing the importance of this program for the organization. This could be done in various ways, such as, broadcasting the success of any product release or process automation phase, conducting roadshows with various parts of the organization to create awareness and garner support.

It is also important to understand that one such program leads to new ideas on the way, new digital products, offerings, services and ways of working. These new ideas, promoted well, will help strike the right chord with executive management and other key senior members in the organization.

Moreover, we should not ignore the fact that key people who constitute the core team in driving an ongoing initiative need to be incentivized. They should be made to feel important always especially during the exaction stage. This would keep them motivated and carry on with the program team.

I would like to here from others on their experience in being part of large transformation initiatives – success stories, learnings and more. If there are reference to research work that would also help.

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