Making sense of large-scale business transformation: lessons from PA’s business design survey

“Our business design survey confirmed our insight: that developing a clear, integrated design for the whole business, and managing that design carefully as the change progresses, is the best guarantee of successful transformation.”

The successful delivery of large-scale transformation programmes is a key issues for business leaders, not just for programme leaders charged with practical implementation. Without the capability to shape and reshape the business in accordance with the needs of evolving strategy, business leaders stand, in effect, at the helm of a rudderless ship.

PA’s survey, ‘Making sense of large-scale transformation’, takes a closer look at how successful companies are at getting the results they want from large-scale business transformation. We explore what weaknesses businesses need to address to do it better and, specifically, how business design principles can improve the outcome of major business transformation programmes.

Define the destination for your business

Many organisations respond to change by evolving tactically, with no clear destination – or target business design – in mind. Unsurprisingly, their business transformation programmes bring them no closer to resolving the challenges that they set out to address. Being clear about where business transformation initiatives will lead and defining the target business design in detail increases the chances of realising a solution that meets the business’s needs.

Design an integrated solution

Organisations embarking on business transformation commonly assume that improving a particular process or a single component of the organisation, such as IT, will produce the outcome they want. They fail to take account of the knock-on effect of discrete change across the wider organisation.

Organisations that take the whole picture into account get better results. This finding from our business design survey is borne out by our experience. Designing change to deliver an integrated business is fundamental to maximising returns from large-scale business transformation.

Deliver with good design management

Once a business transformation programme is underway, keeping the overall design for the business in shape is as important as keeping the delivery of the programme itself on track. This aspect is poorly managed in a significant number of organisations – almost 40% according to our survey. Yet almost one in three of our respondents said their organisation didn’t use any particular design management tools and resources to help them maintain control of the target business design.

Our experience shows us that using a design management framework supports effective business transformation, and that choosing a framework that embraces a number of perspectives – structure, processes, culture and IT – delivers the best outcome.

If change is a given for businesses, then challenge is a certainty. In a world where events come thick and fast, business design has the power to help organisations make sense of large-scale business transformation.

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