The Successful Transformation Series | Part 1: Transformations start with knowing a business and the leadership.

The Successful Transformation Series | Part 1: Transformations start with knowing a business and the leadership.

17 August 2020
Gerrit Sarens
Gerrit Sarens
  • In these times of widespread transformations, we hear and read little about effective and successful transformations: genuinely embraced and adopted by people on the floor.

    So, Ambits being all out about successful transformations, we make it this month’s series of blogposts. In three posts we will share why highly effective transformations are a result of bringing in Business Mentoring.

    Featuring today: Successful transformations start with knowing a business and the leadership.

  • What is an effective transformation?

  • Transformations are built from well-designed strategies based on solid market and consumer insights. Specific transformations start with technology platforms that have the capacity to re-define your customer proposition and processes.

    The effectiveness of a transformation process is measured by the actual changed behavior of frontline employees, the utilization of new tools and how capably new working methods are being applied. A transformation is effective when it impacts the customer experience and your P&L statement in a positive way.

  • The difference between success and failure

  • The road to effectiveness will traverse the mountains, cliffs and pitfalls of the organization’s heritage, the reigning leadership culture and entrenched industry-specific customs and practices. These are factors of complexity and ambiguity that strategy and technology implementations often make abstractions from or take for granted.

  • What makes the difference between success and failure: people.

  • These factors are often challenging to put into a standard model, as they are hidden in the details, within informal networks and traditional ways of working. Most importantly, they are always related to what makes the difference between success and failure: people.

  • Three out of four transformations fail

  • A 2015 McKinsey Global Survey states that only 27% of transformations “have been very or completely successful at both improving performance and equipping the organization to sustain improvements over time”. It’s striking that both PROSCI’s 2018 Change Management benchmarking report and McKinsey’s 2015 Global Survey show the same 26% to 27% success rate of transformation projects. So, we generally can assume that around the world only one out of four transformations are successful.

    Three out of four transformations are considered a failure by the business owner, just one year after delivery. This obviously provides room for improvement and for adding Business Mentoring or change management support to the transformation process.

  • Having stood in the shoes of the business leader

  • Strategy and technology consultancy makes a chance to lead to an effective transformation, when the business and leadership of the organization is taken into account. This is where a Business Mentor and his or her extensive business expertise comes in.

    The Business Mentor will put the necessary focus on how to engage people in the transformation process, what kind of organization and governance will be needed and how to engage Senior management at the defining moments. A Business Mentor will be centered on people and organization, while fully understanding what the business and leadership requires.

  • The Business Mentor will be able to handle the complexity and ambiguity because of his or her experience in the business.

  • Having stood in the shoes of the business leader, the Business Mentor has instant authenticity and credibility to facilitate the kind of collaborations needed to enact transformations. A solid basis to work with the mentee and to swiftly develop an in-depth understanding of the business and leadership challenges.

    The Business Mentor will also be able to handle the complexity and ambiguity because of his/her experience in the business. Having hit the walls of an organization in the past and exercised the leadership needed to drive new ways of working.

Struggles of a manager

Managers are

  • not or inadequately trained in this role


    • lack self-confidence
    • don’t know how to go from being a colleague to being a boss
    • need to loosen up on the command & control leadership style
    • must let go of the (technical) expert status
    • cannot give or accept constructive feedback
    • feel pressure to perform as manager
    • have difficulty building relationships
    • want to be liked by everyone or want to be the ‘bad boss’
    • play the hero
  • are struggling


    • stay too involved in operations
    • have trouble prioritizing
    • cannot delegate
    • fear conflict situations
    • disconnect from the team
    • deal with flawed strategic thinking
    • do not relate to higher management
    • lack clear communication skills
    • remain not self-aware
    • avoid difficult conversations
    • miss political antennas
    • ...
  • capable of more


    • need mental preparation as successor
    • need to be able to lead big changes ahead
    • need to learn to be emotionally resilient and in control
    • need to learn to make big decisions fast without all the information
    • must become persuasive presenters
    • need to learn how to cultivate their own personal brand
    • need to learn how to lead by example
    • manage by trust, not by fear
    • need to overly develop empathy
    • ...
Subscribe to Ambits Insights

Subscribe to Ambits Insights

Our newsletter is about leadership development through business mentoring.