This means reshaping the way they develop their people, engage with clients and win new business. Businesses of all sizes in every industry are finding they must transform themselves, whether a middle-market technology company, a regional financial services firm or a specialty healthcare provider.
In our work with clients, we have found that successful transformations often involve five steps:
The first step in the process is a clear-eyed assessment of your capabilities today. What are the impediments to growth? Are you winning the accounts you want? How strong are your training programs? Is your technology helping you reach your goals? This is a look at how your company wins and manages client business, across business processes, technology support and people. The goal is to flag critical areas that are in need of attention.
A candid assessment of where you stand can be a difficult exercise, and leave you more distressed than optimistic. That’s why this next step is so key. It’s important to leave behind the present for a moment and imagine what you’d like the future to be. What kind of experience would your clients have? How would your client-service team operate? What tools would your sales team use to improve their win rates? Companies that undergo a detailed future state exercise have a much better chance of succeeding in their transformation efforts.
This might sound like a contradiction or a zen-like mind puzzle. What we mean is that this process should place a premium on speed but also be inclusive. Input from a range of sources, both inside the company and outside, from clients and partners, is important. Working quickly also recognizes that analysis is useful, but execution is paramount. Many companies know what needs to be done but have lacked the consensus or the right framework to tackle it.
Developing your people while you are developing client business sounds logical enough, but most companies keep them very separate. Those that succeed in their transformations view talent and business development in an integrated way. They equip sales leaders with skills to negotiate new contracts. They coach service delivery teams to raise difficult issues with clients candidly and constructively. New-account launches are handled smoothly and consistently, setting the stage for growth.
Successful transformations strike the right balance between the use of external and internal resources. The constant presence of a consultant usually means a transformation effort is failing (except for the consultant). External advisors bring expertise, fresh perspectives, and important skills that can be adopted by companies. The best outcomes result from a highly collaborative process that help the company build its own capabilities over time.
These five steps are common threads running through successful transformations. While not a guarantee of success. But they can be helpful guidelines for those about to embark on the journey.