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Planning to Undergo a Business Transformation? Here Are 5 Tips to Help You Get Started Undergoing a transformation in any business can be challenging, especially for an established company. As a leader, you'll want to ensure the business and, most importantly, your teams are ready to take on the challenge.

By Jeff Meredith Edited by Micah Zimmerman

Key Takeaways

  • Transformation demands resilience, vision, and unwavering commitment from leadership.
  • Employee engagement and clear vision are crucial for successful transformation.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

"Transformation" is a term that is tossed around broadly and used frequently to describe the state of a business. But the reality is most businesses fail in their transformation efforts. In fact, in a 2016 KPMG global study, 96% of organizations reported they were undergoing business transformations, but only 47% expected to see long-term value, and an estimated 70% of companies fail at change efforts.

Why? Because many are simply not ready for the challenges and long-term commitment that come with transformation. As the CEO of a company currently in the midst of transforming, I can emphatically say it's not for the faint of heart. You'll want to ensure you're up for the challenge and your team is bought in and motivated by what's to come. Here are five key actions to take before you embark on the journey.

1. Be prepared for criticism

Jeff Bezos once said, "If you can't tolerate critics, don't do anything new or interesting." This is 100% true for any business embarking on transformative change. There's no easy way to initiate change, so you have to have the stomach for it. You can't be timid in your approach, and you should expect changes to make some people uncomfortable. If you already have this mindset going in, you'll be able to focus on tackling the other obstacles that come your way.

2. Paint a clear vision

You can't transform without a vision for what you want your business to be on the other side of the transformation journey. Simplicity is key here. You must come up with an easy-to-understand yet inspiring way to articulate what you're trying to accomplish with the new direction.

Your employees need to grasp the "why" behind the change and be motivated and inspired by the future vision. I recently took the concept of vision one step further with my teams: I asked every business area to create its own vision that aligns with the company's vision. We had too many priorities across the company, and I knew this would help each employee focus, prioritize and better understand their individual and collective purpose.

3. Get your employees on board

The reality is, not everyone will immediately be on board. There will typically be three different groups of employees: those who are excited about the change and want to pursue it, those who are uncertain and would rather wait and see what happens, and those who are not interested in change at all.

You'll need to leverage the people in group one to help drive momentum and demonstrate to group two the benefits and opportunities before them – not just for the company but for their personal growth. Then, you have to make decisions related to group three. Often, the reluctant to change realize on their own that the company is no longer a fit for them as the environment becomes less predictable, and that's okay. Transformation is hard. And it's not for everyone.

4. Stay the course

Many transformations fail because of the leadership team's lack of conviction. You're going to experience big ups and downs all along the ride, including some pretty big failures. There will be some people who don't believe you can do it, and that's when you double down.

Learn from your failures and stay committed to your goals. At Chamberlain Group, we experienced a big-time shortfall in sales of one of our most innovative products last year. We learned, we regrouped, and we'll use those learnings to continue evolving that part of the business.

5. Be ready to change…everything

A lot of people think business transformation is a corporate strategy, but it's not. It involves changing every aspect of the organization, including the way you budget, the way you allocate and re-allocate resources, the way you recruit, and the way you engage the talent you have. You need to ensure you have the right people on the right teams dedicated to the right priorities. In many cases, this means making bold moves. Over the past few years, I've shifted leaders to lead different parts of the business, uncovering previously untapped strengths and benefitting the company overall. This may seem surprising, but it's not true transformation unless you challenge all of your past norms.

I often say that leading through a transformation requires you to maintain tension in the metaphorical rubber band constantly; if you don't, it will return to its origin. Sustaining the change requires constant focus and perseverance because when it comes down to it, changing is not about effort; it's about impact. Establish a consistent set of metrics from the start — both qualitative and quantitative—that you will use to track your progress throughout your transformative journey. Those measurements will serve as a focal point and rallying point for the team along the way and will make it very clear to all when you've truly achieved "transformation."

Jeff Meredith

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

CEO of Chamberlain Group

Jeff Meredith is the CEO of Chamberlain Group. He is passionate about CG's transformation to a leading software company within the access solutions industry. Prior to CG, Jeff held executive leadership roles at Lenovo, most recently as the SVP & General Manager of the Global Consumer Business Unit.

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