We are a global management consultancy that delivers exceptional outcomes and sustainable change

We are a global management consultancy that delivers exceptional outcomes and sustainable change


Busi­ness Transformation

Busi­ness Trans­for­ma­tion in 2020: Quick tips to go beyond the buzzword


With every start of the year, many busi­ness­es, would be look­ing to imple­ment their trans­for­ma­tion plans (Did you know that “dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion” became one of the top man­age­ment buzz­words at the turn of the decade?).

Many are prob­a­bly also well aware by now that the major­i­ty of trans­for­ma­tion plans under-deliver or fail. Any­one who has gone through a con­ven­tion­al top-down trans­for­ma­tion pro­gramme – involv­ing cost-cutting, dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion and/or organ­i­sa­tion­al restruc­ture – often comes out of it with very lit­tle to show. Organ­i­sa­tions sim­ply can’t fol­low the “fire, ready, aim” approach to transformation.

What was lack­ing in most of these fail­ures? Ade­quate change management.

To shed light on this top­ic, we sat down with five lead­ers of Renoir Con­sult­ing – our very own Renoir Change­mak­ers – on the com­mon pit­falls they’ve seen, in more than 90 years of col­lec­tive expe­ri­ence in change man­age­ment and transformation.

They shared with us the com­mon ques­tions that need to be asked, to increase the odds of suc­cess for any trans­for­ma­tion pro­gramme. But first, let’s dis­pel a com­mon myth.

“Peo­ple are resis­tant to change” (?)

To begin with, busi­ness lead­ers need to first make this one men­tal shift – though peo­ple may be crea­tures of habit, but they are def­i­nite­ly NOT resis­tant to well-managed change. Here, CEO of Renoir Con­sult­ing, Tom Verkooi­jen elab­o­rates: “The resis­tance to change comes from the pain of change and a fear of the unknown. If a suf­fi­cient­ly secured base is pro­vid­ed for peo­ple to hold onto through­out the process, they will be more accept­ing of the ini­tia­tives in a short­er peri­od of time.”

3 ques­tions a trans­for­ma­tion pro­gramme should be able to answer

To pro­vide that secure base for peo­ple, every trans­for­ma­tion ini­tia­tive will require a tai­lored approach to change man­age­ment. Hav­ing worked with clients who have embarked on a vari­ety of trans­for­ma­tion jour­neys, from function-specific to organisation-wide, we’ve found that suc­cess­ful trans­for­ma­tions con­sid­ered the fol­low­ing three fac­tors when plan­ning their approach to change management:

1) Who are ALL the cus­tomers of change?

Who is the change going to impact and what does it mean to them? As peo­ple are the main agents of change, instead of forc­ing trans­for­ma­tion down their throats, organ­i­sa­tions need to focus on onboard­ing all stakeholders.
In most tra­di­tion­al organ­i­sa­tions, trans­for­ma­tion plans are devel­oped by a small group of senior lead­ers. Whilst direction-setting from top man­age­ment is cru­cial, sus­tain­able change can only hap­pen when it is insti­tut­ed from both the top-down and bottom-up.

“Stake­hold­er engage­ment is so often insuf­fi­cient despite the blind­ing­ly obvi­ous need to onboard EVERYONE affect­ed by the change. Take them on the proven change man­age­ment cycle, from under­stand­ing the rea­sons for change all the way to how it could be done,” Iain Mul­vey, our CEO in South Africa explains.

That is what makes change sus­tain­able — it must reach all employ­ees at the indi­vid­ual lev­el. Also, don’t stop at just the busi­ness’ inter­nal stake­hold­ers – this is equal­ly applic­a­ble to exter­nal ser­vice providers to whom process­es are often outsourced.

The best way is always to make it a team effort from the get-go and define both prob­lems as well as solu­tions togeth­er. Farouk Jivani, Head of Busi­ness and Dig­i­tal Trans­for­ma­tion, believes that this cru­cial first step is what sets the suc­cess­ful ones apart: “Involv­ing the wider organ­i­sa­tion and invest­ed indi­vid­u­als in defin­ing what needs to be done is a key com­po­nent to cre­at­ing align­ment and devel­op­ing own­er­ship around transformation.”

2) Can peo­ple see the course of change ahead?

It’s like­ly busi­ness lead­ers already have defined a clear and desir­able vision for its trans­for­ma­tion jour­ney. It now needs to be tak­en a step fur­ther, and made action­able, by look­ing at both the big and small pic­ture simultaneously.
Sus­tain­able trans­for­ma­tion requires sys­temic change. That’s where see­ing the big pic­ture is key. This means zoom­ing out and break­ing down each trans­for­ma­tion ini­tia­tive into its com­po­nent parts.

To do this, our Head of Analy­sis, Daniel Menezes sug­gests that process reengi­neer­ing with clear Key Per­for­mance Indi­ca­tors (KPIs) and report­ing mech­a­nisms, togeth­er with defin­ing the right coor­di­na­tion meet­ings is para­mount. KPIs must be sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly applied to all steps of the val­ue chain to allow for sig­nif­i­cant per­for­mance improve­ment. In oth­er words, the process has to be sys­temic in con­sid­er­a­tion of the envi­ron­ment in which change is imposed. There’s an addi­tion­al upside of get­ting this right: by empow­er­ing the very peo­ple doing the change, it also reduces the need for senior lead­er­ship intervention.

Beyond opti­mis­ing how dif­fer­ent parts of the busi­ness inter­act, busi­ness lead­ers need to also “think small” when it comes to mak­ing the change with­in each of those parts; Mar­tyn Web­ber, our CEO in South East Asia, offered this piece of advice: “Plan it with mil­i­tary precision.”

Mar­tyn empha­sised on the impor­tance of thor­ough change plan­ning by advis­ing that change cycles needs to be planned care­ful­ly down to the last com­mu­ni­ca­tion ses­sion, the move­ment of the peo­ple, even to the intro­duc­tion of change itself. “Leave noth­ing to chance”, Mar­tyn concludes.

3) Who are the change cham­pi­ons at each level?

For some, the excite­ment around launch­ing (yet anoth­er) promis­ing trans­for­ma­tion pro­gramme needs to be tem­pered by this sober­ing fact: “Change doesn’t hap­pen in newslet­ters and emails about pro­grammes but through the peo­ple in an organ­i­sa­tion”, Farouk reminds.

Suc­cess­ful trans­for­ma­tion pro­grammes rely on a net­work of cham­pi­ons that play dif­fer­ent roles in the change process — from execu­tors on the ground floor to senior man­age­ment remov­ing road­blocks and paint­ing the big­ger pic­ture. Busi­ness lead­ers also need to con­sid­er both peo­ple with for­mal and infor­mal influ­ence on the behav­iours of their col­leagues. Iden­ti­fy­ing and engag­ing a wider change net­work is what will allow the organ­i­sa­tion to scale-up change efforts. Farouk calls this step, “Estab­lish­ing your coali­tions of change.”

The most impor­tant step, fol­low it through
Keep­ing to all of the above is still no guar­an­tee of suc­cess. Liv­ing in a VUCA (volatile, uncer­tain, com­plex, and ambigu­ous) world means even the best laid plans can go awry if organ­i­sa­tions don’t rein­force the process with appro­pri­ate change man­age­ment tools.

“Trans­for­ma­tion pro­grammes only begin at GO-LIVE and the jour­ney is often hard­er than expect­ed. Imple­men­ta­tion is where every­one strug­gles and sup­port­ing behav­ioral change, through a com­pre­hen­sive change man­age­ment plan, is the only way to ensure trans­for­ma­tions are suc­cess­ful,” said Farouk. So whether it’s onboard­ing indi­vid­u­als to their new role in the organ­i­sa­tion, or get­ting peo­ple to use and make deci­sions through a new­ly installed ana­lyt­ics plat­form, GO-LIVE is where behav­iour­al change starts.

Iain also adds some part­ing advice, remind­ing busi­ness lead­ers that it is impor­tant to light­en the mood of the envi­ron­ment by main­tain­ing a sense of humour to ease the trans­for­ma­tion. “After all, whilst peo­ple are not resis­tant to change, they are cer­tain­ly resis­tant to poor­ly exe­cut­ed change,” Iain reminds.

Hav­ing dis­cussed the com­mon pit­falls of trans­for­ma­tion, Farouk summed it up by say­ing: “Change man­age­ment is a key suc­cess fac­tor to any trans­for­ma­tion pro­gramme, and every pro­gramme requires a tai­lored approach to it.”
While these key fac­tors dis­cussed have been uni­ver­sal­ly crit­i­cal in all the suc­cess­ful trans­for­ma­tions that Renoir has had the priv­i­lege of work­ing on, the way they are applied will vary from one com­pa­ny to the next.

To dis­cov­er how our proven approach to change man­age­ment, craft­ed through expe­ri­ence and best prac­tice, can help imple­ment and scale up your trans­for­ma­tion ini­tia­tive, feel free to reach out to us. Change starts now

Share This Article

How We Can Help

Connect with us

Let us work with you to achieve exceptional results.

Share this article

Other articles

Busi­ness Transformation


Change Cham­pi­ons: Rebel with a cause

Dig­i­tal Transformation


Remov­ing the human bar­ri­ers to dig­i­tal transformation



Renoir In Action: How long-tenure employ­ees can actu­al­ly short-circuit your prob­lem solv­ing engine



Trans­for­ma­tions may start from the top but suc­cess bub­bles up from the bottom.
23 Oct 2019


Oper­a­tional Excellence

Har­mon­is­ing sales and production
30 Jun 2021


Busi­ness Transformation

Is your com­pa­ny cul­ture sab­o­tag­ing the organisation?
30 Jul 2021