Publications -Paper: Three pitfalls in business transformation

With the Inscriptio team we are involved in several Business Transformation initiatives. When we look at the projects that are “under pressure”, 3 recurring patterns seem to occur each time over.


Lack of solid groundworks in the pre – project/program phase

A lot of projects and programs are started based only on a financial investment analysis. This of course needs to be done, but only in a second phase. Three fundamental questions are often not asked, namely:

  • How will this project/program help the organization to develop further the essence of its reason for being?
  • Will it help us to achieve the strategy, mission and vision of the company? Assuming that the strategy is still “à jour”...!
  • Is our organization set up in such a way that the result of the project/program can be “naturally” incorporated in the “day to day” organization?

In other words are strategy and organizational design linked and a basis to decide on which projects/programs to do and which to drop? 


Ignorance to the fact that organizations are complex living ecosystems

Organizations are complex living eco systems!

However, most change management methodology (Kotter 8 Steps, Prosci - Adkar and others) use complicated linear thinking as a starting point. Something is broken and we just need to fix it with a new “part”.

In these approaches, employees feel themselves as mechanical components of a “system”. Result, they no longer have a psychological contract with the organization and “opt out”.

Having the guts to understand that the knowledge is already in the organization and that the employees need to be invited to speak up and bring their views to the table, is where it often goes fundamentally wrong.

In essence, this goes back to a lack of leadership and trust in dealing with the futures that are emerging, but that are not yet clear. Result, the potential of the employees for obtaining their highest achievable self, gets blocked and the organization loses all the vitality it requires to deal with the uncertainty.


Non-executive engagement

I specifically speak about executive engagement and not about executive sponsorship. Very often the executive sponsor kicks off the project/program and then disappears.

This heavily correlates in our view to the two previous points. In order to remain “fearlessly visible” during the project/program, the key executives involved need to:

  • Understand what the “true essence” of their organization is about and how it can evolve.
  • Define what kind of organizational design is best fit to nurture/cultivate that specific organizational essence.
  • Ignite the passion that is present in each employee, to help them develop themselves and their organization.


After all, developing people to their maximum achievable self is not a task, it is a privilege!


Marc Van Obberghen

Partner - Inscriptio


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