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‘Always-on’ Transformation: How to Deliver, Sustain ‘Breakthrough Performance’

The idea that business — and business leaders — must continually think about transformation is no surprise.

It’s called “always-on transformation.”

Boston Consulting Group Senior Partner & Managing Director Jim Hemerling writes: “Welcome to the era of “always-on” transformation. Across virtually all industries, unprecedented disruption and market turbulence—due to globalization, technological innovation, changing regulations, and other factors—are challenging established business models and practices, and requiring organizations to launch more frequent transformations in response. To keep up, companies need to undertake many different types of transformation. (See Exhibit 1.) Any one of these, or several, can be under way at a company at any given time. BCG’s research shows that 85 percent of companies that have undertaken transformations over the past decade have pursued more than one type, with the most common being organizational, operational, and rapid financial improvements.

And clearly, transformation is big business. According to a new report from Zion Research, global demand for digital transformation market was valued at around USD 150.50 billion in 2015 and is expected to reach approximately USD 431.71billion in 2021, growing at a CAGR of slightly above 19.2% between 2016 and 2021.

Zion writes: “Digital revolution is transforming many aspects of business and even whole industries. Digital transformation is the use of digital technologies such as social media, mobility, analytics, and more. These technologies may use by enterprises to improve or add more features to their traditional business processes and also to maintain customer relationships. Digital transformation is the outcome of changes that occur with the application of advanced digital technologies.”

What are the keys to getting it right?

Boston Consulting Group has released a new eBook “Transformation: Delivering and Sustaining Breakthrough Performance,” coauthored by Hemerling. (Download here)

The authors write: “The competitive environment today is far more unpredictable than it was even a decade ago, with disruption arising from all directions. How to respond effectively to these seismic shifts? Business as usual with incremental improvements will not suffice. Leaders must transform the company, through a fundamental reboot that leads to a sustainable step change improvement in performance and, ultimately, shareholder value.”

Of course, transformation is never easy. Beyond the logistics, internal winners and losers may have different reasons for helping (or preventing) transformation from taking place.

What do effective leaders need to know in order to succeed?

Hemerling gave a very popular Ted Talk on the subject. He said:

“Have you ever noticed when you ask someone to talk about a change they’re making for the better in their personal lives, they’re often really energetic? Whether it’s training for a marathon, picking up an old hobby, or learning a new skill, for most people, self-transformation projects occupy a very positive emotional space… But there’s another type of transformation that occupies a very different emotional space. The transformation of organizations. If you’re like most people, when you hear the words ‘Our organization is going to start a transformation,’ you’re thinking, “‘Uh-oh.'”

The full Ted Talk is here: