Stephen Covey’s phrase about the main thing being to keep the main thing the main thing always comes to mind when I think about transformation. It is a simple but challenging thought, which bites home when we speak about transformation.
All businesses and organisations should be clear about the Main Thing – they are committed to delivering a service profitably or certainly within budget. The business or organisation will die if this stops happening. This is the Main Thing.
However there are times when the way in which the Main Thing is achieved needs to change radically. Things cannot stay the same. It could be that practices are outdated, customers no longer require the service, or competitors are delivering in a better way – a transformation is needed.
When this is the case, what is the main thing? Is it the transformation by which the future will be created but which might bleed the organisation dry before it is delivered, or, the ongoing service delivery which will be the life blood until the new approach takes over?
I have seen transformations which are not thought through and become part of the operational problem due to the draw on people and finances. However I have also seen transformations where the hard decisions are not made and in an attempt to protect the business, staff are supposed to be on 2 full-time jobs at the same time – transformation and business-as-usual. In this case, the leadership team have abdicated their responsibility and they get what they deserve – a failed transformation.
Each leadership team will need to face this dilemma when initiating transformation. Ongoing operations and transformation are both vital so both are the Main Thing. Both will need unwavering commitment. Both will need dedicated (100%) resource – leadership, management and delivery teams.
To agree the way forward for a business or organisation will need hard thinking and tough decisions. This is the role of the leadership team.