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The Art of Business Transformation – Tapping into The Power of People

The Art of Business Transformation – Tapping into The Power of People

shows that there are many different personalities in the workplace

The Art of Business Transformation – tapping into the power of people

When you have a big idea that you know is amazing, you can’t wait to get to it, right?  Not so fast. Learn from my mistakes. Remember that fairy tale where a new baby was born, and everyone was invited except for ONE witch?  And that witch decided to ruin everything? That’s what can easily happen if you don’t take the time to vet your idea and get input from your team. Now you may say, “But Lori, I KNOW that some of my team members will oppose the idea, and I don’t want to hear that.”  You’re right, they will. Better to know now, and to get an honest answer of why so that you are prepared to deal with whatever you may be facing.

This edition of our newsletter contains four key:

  • Quick tips for success
  • People you may encounter
  • Key questions to ask
  • Other resources to dig deeper

“Well begun is half done.” Aristotle

 If you don’t involve people upfront, you could see an outbreak of Left-Out-Itis followed by a bad case of the Resentment Flu.

People are the lifeblood of any initiative. People don’t work with companies, people work with people, so you’ll want to be as diligent about your communication and connection with others as you are about your deliverables.

Quick tips for success:

  • Understand that everyone has something to teach you.
  • Listen first, confirm that the other person feels you understand them, THEN and only then talk about your perspective.
  • Be as kind as you can. Assume everyone has good motives and is doing their best.
  • Say thank you and let people know the impact they made.
  • Give people what they need (attention, direction, praise, a key initiative being done) as often as you can. Make their success part of your own. Great leaders praise others more than they take credit, and they take blame more than they give it.
  • If things go wrong if you can’t deliver what you’d hoped or if someone on the team is being asked to go above and beyond, be honest. When people see that you at least understand and care, it goes a long way toward soothing the pain.

People you may encounter:

People don’t work with companies, people work with people.

shows that there are many different personalities in the workplace

Super Fan

Known for:  loving every idea you have.

What they want from you: to be included and part of the team. Keep them up to speed and run draft ideas by them as often as possible.

Caution flags: they may reinforce your blind spots.

Best practices:  make sure you have a diverse team of opinions, not just Super Fans. Ask Super Fans what you might be missing or where they see potential problems. CELEBRATE with your Super Fans. They want to be included see that their work made a difference, not just for the team and the company, but for you.

Happy Camper

Known for: team spirit, going into every assignment with gusto.

What they want from you: clear direction on goals and outcomes; giving them the tools and direction to achieve the task, and ongoing feedback on their performance.

Caution flags: they may or may not agree with your ideas, they may or may not ask for help when they need it.

Best practices: be sure to check in on them, ask if they have what they need from you/the process, ask if there are any obstacles in their way.

Credit Seeker

Known for: wanting credit for being part of the team.

What they want from you: as much public praise and credit as possible.

Caution flags: sometimes credit seekers just need attention; maybe they are younger in their careers and don’t realize that the REAL players know who did the work. Sometimes they want credit without doing the work and may even take credit for your work!

Best practices: be clear that credit is what they seek. If you like their work, be fair and honest as you credit their contribution. If they did not do the work, give them credit for what they DID do (show up, put in the effort), etc. DO NOT pander to Credit Seekers. If they try to take credit for work done by others, or even you, point out who DID to the work honestly, fairly and in a neutral tone. No need to get upset, just tell the truth.

Hopeful Romantic

Known for: being cynics –  finding fault in every idea, even when they believe in it.

What they want from you: they want to be talked out of their cynicism. They need you to stay positive AND address the problems they see.

Caution flags: just because they are cynical doesn’t mean they are not team players, don’t write them off, listen. This person may come off as 100% negative at first. Let them talk and keep asking why they feel that way and what they need. You may find that a negative person isn’t really negative, they’re just scared to be positive.

Best practices:  expect to hear the dark side first. Listen carefully, make sure they feel understood; then address it with your ideas. People can’t hear you until they feel heard. Be realistic. If you have someone who has been burned in the past for coming up with new ideas, don’t make promises that you can’t keep on bringing up new ideas today. Earn their trust with honesty. Be it good news or bad, tell the truth.

Only if… Supporter

Known for: being supportive when they are getting something out of it, then dropping back if what they thought they were getting goes away.

What they want from you: they want you to give them whatever it is that they need from the project (attention, praise, a pet initiative being included).

Caution flags: they will NOT be open about when they are in and when they are out, so you need to be super clear that their support is 100% contingent and only IF X is being done.

Best practices: understand the currency of what they need. If someone needs visibility with management, be clear when you are providing that and when you are not. If someone has a pet initiative that is included in the original plan but not the final plan, address that before it becomes a bad surprise.

Enemy for Life

Known for: not liking you or your initiative. They may have legitimate reasons, they may not.

What they want from you: to see you fail.

Caution flags: they may pretend to be on your side, only to stab you in the back later. It’s easy to just avoid these folks. Don’t. Better to know their issues and address them before they bring them up. Any good trial lawyer will tell you that the best time to hear the defense’s argument is from the prosecution, who can then address it.

Best practices: know your friends, know your enemies. Sometimes enemies can be turned around with persistence, but you have to take the time to listen, to understand their legitimate concerns and address them. That being said, don’t fold yourself into a pretzel for people. There’s no such thing as a personality transplant. Some people are just plain mean!

Pro top for dealing with enemies: This one comes from Benjamin Franklin and has since been confirmed by modern psychology. If you have someone in your life who doesn’t like you, ask them to do you a favor. When we do a favor for someone, we automatically like them more. (Also works if you don’t like someone. Do them a favor.)


Known for: finding problems, pointing them out and solving them.

What they want from you: to be called into action to prevent and solve problems.

Caution flags: sometimes there isn’t a fire. Sometimes you forget to bring the firefighter in, and they see things that you miss at the wrong time. A few firefighters have even been known to start fires just to put them out.

Best practices: ask for their advice before you send out the final draft. Give them a chance to weigh in and think about what could go wrong (a fire) and how to solve it (fire prevention or a fire drill). Once a firefighter knows that his/her opinion is valued, you’ll get some great input on solving problems before they happen.

False Friend

Known for: pretending to support your idea but not doing it, either with low effort, pretending to misunderstand or other methods of sabotage.

What they want from you: to not have to do the work. Could also be an enemy for life in disguise who wants you to fail.

Caution flags:  sadly, you have to be aware that people like this exist. I’ve been fooled more than once by someone who seemed to be on board but never really was. Trust your instincts. And look at the behavior. If it’s not right, it’s not right. People like this take advantage of having made a first good impression and saying the right things, but not doing them.

Best practices: look at what they do, not what they say. Don’t be afraid to call them out on it, even asking “I’m confused. You said that you would do X, but now I see Y.” Don’t be fooled by someone you know is not on your side. If they were nice to you today, great. That’s just for today. It doesn’t mean that the tiger has changed his/her stripes.

Trusted Advisor

Known for: knowing things you don’t know. This role is wide and can include people at every level of your company. You’d be amazed at what you can learn from people on the factory floor, people who have been in sales for decades or people who have been at the company for more than 20 years. This person can be a peer, a manager, a person in a different department, even your administrative assistant. It just depends on their level of knowledge and how you tap into that. Seek out different points of view to help round out your ideas AND vet how to say them. If your approach works for a variety of audiences, you know you’ve got a winner!

What they want from you: to see if you are REALLY interested in their views and will take them seriously, or not. It’s up to you to gain their trust. Once you do, it can be a gold mine.

Caution flags: you will not be able to address ALL of their issues. Be honest about what you can do and what you can’t so that you don’t overpromise. If you don’t know, ask.

Best practices: assume they know things you don’t. Assume they disagree and have a different view (that’s what you want). Ask questions that show that you are more interested in their perspective than in being right. You can always talk about your point-of-view once you understand theirs. It’s up to you to reach out and create that ongoing sense of safety that is the hallmark of honest dialogue.

Visionary Leader

Known for: setting the vision for the future.

What they want from you: to help them make that vision come true, tell them the honest truth about obstacles, be prepared to take action and create solutions and be a person that others want to work with.

Caution flags: despite the cordial relationship you may have with this individual, they are NOT your best friend, nor your therapist. Also, leadership changes. Be aware that what was said and intended at the beginning of the planning process may change over time.

Best practices:  Remember to keep the relationship professional and focused on the key goals and outcomes (e.g. increasing sales AND making this person feel that they made a difference with customers). Generally, people at a high level don’t have a lot of folks giving them praise. As much as possible, give these leaders a chance to vent, to let down their guard. Be the person who notices how much they are doing and how much pressure they are under. Do your best to support them as leaders and as people. Again, people don’t work with initiatives, they work with people.

I have 100% of me 100% of the time. That’s why I need other perspectives.

Key questions to ask people you work with:

First, keep it as confidential and honest as you can. Note that your goal is to understand THEIR point of view so that you can work with them successfully for them and for you.

  • Tell me about a time when you felt most successful at work.
  • Tell me about a time when you didn’t feel successful.
  • I’m working on (state your idea), what is your reaction to that?
    • Has it been tried before? What happened? What worked? What didn’t work? What were the obstacles? What were the unmet opportunities?
    • If you were doing this idea, what would be your key priority? Why?
    • What are the key things I could miss in doing this idea (process, people issues, company history, etc.)?
    • What are the pitfalls? How can those be addressed or prevented?
    • What would be the ideal outcome of this idea for the company? For your department? For you personally?
    • What would be the nightmare outcome of this idea for the company? For your department? For you personally?
  • What is an example of a time when you worked with someone in my role, and it went well? If you could wave a magic wand, what would you want from me?
  • What is an example of a time when you worked with someone in my role, and it went badly? What would you NEVER want to experience in working with me?
  • What questions should I have thought of but didn’t ask?
  • Anything else you want to talk about?

Resource Links • Digging Deeper

Setting your Vision for the Future with Inside Help

From Smarp 1/4/2021 Business Transformation in 2021: The Guide for Successful Implementation

Years of research on business transformation have shown that the success rate for these efforts is consistently low: less than 30% succeed. 

Years of research on business transformation have shown that the success rate for these efforts is consistently low: less than 30% succeed.

Moreover, only 16% of respondents say their organizations’ digital transformations have successfully improved performance and also equipped them to sustain changes in the long term. An additional 7% say that performance improved but that those improvements were not sustained.

Often, lack of employee communication, engagement and alignment with the new goals are the main reasons for such a high failure rate.

In this blog, we will go over some of the best practices for implementing business transformation successfully in 2021.

The Definition of Business Transformation

Business transformation is all about identifying techniques, new processes and technologies that aren’t being used to their maximum capacity. It requires understanding about how alternate solutions can be applied to further gain market share, increase revenue and customer satisfaction or reduce operating costs.

Organizations undertake business transformations to create additional value. This may mean unlocking the potential of employees, harnessing intellectual property and proprietary technology for additional purposes, or becoming more efficient to maximize the company’s potential.

The goal of every business transformation project should be to ensure that the best processes and systems are being implemented within an organization.

For many organizations, this is not a simple process, particularly within the organizations that have a mindset that fears change. Therefore, how you deal and communicate with employees dictates how successful the transformation will be.

6 Main Dimensions of Business Transformation:

It is very important for organizations to focus on the main business capabilities that have a direct impact on how successful business transformation will be.

In reality, only a small number of total capabilities play a critical role in helping the organization find new ways to differentiate, gain competitive advantage and compete. Focusing on those critical capabilities can help deliver greater value and help the organization realize its business transformation ambition.

The Deloitte Capability Hexagon provides a comprehensive approach to defining and designing enterprise capabilities across six dimensions:

  • The purpose of a capability, how it will operate, and what value it will deliver. The mission is derived directly from—and supports—the company’s strategy.
  • The decision flow, information, and analytics drive informed and timely decision-making.
  • Clear roles, decision rights, and policies that facilitate integration within and across other capabilities, functions, and partnerships.
  • An integrated and efficient set of processes designed to achieve the desired outcomes.
  • The software, hardware, and tools required to enable the capability.
  • The competencies, skills, talent infrastructure, and workforce planning enable an optimal talent base to execute the capability. This broader viewpoint allows organizations to frame and link execution to the value defined in the transformation ambition.

14 Steps to Succeed in Business Transformation:

As many business transformation initiatives fail, we have put together the 14 main steps organizations should follow before and during their business transformation efforts.

  1. Evaluate your existing business situation
  2. Get executive buy-in
  3. Get employees’ buy-in
  4. Engage all employees in daily conversations
  5. Focus on your communication strategy
  6. Build an efficient change management process
  7. Set clear short and long-term goals
  8. Foster a sense of urgency
  9. Eliminate fear in the workplace
  10. Enable cross-departmental collaboration
  11. Choose carefully the communication channels you’re about to implement
  12. Be agile and encourage new ideas
  13. Close the skill gap at your organization
  14. Measure your employees’ engagement

Employee Communication Plays a Crucial Role in Business Transformation

As mentioned earlier in this blog, employee engagement and communication are some of the most important prerequisites for successful business transformation efforts. Therefore, organizations now must consider implementing new communication technologies to help leaders and employees prepare for the change and work towards the same goals.

With employee communications solutions such as Smarp, organizations are able to:

  • Easily reach all employees with relevant information and updates
  • Reach all employees regardless of their location
  • Create and share more personalized content to drive employee engagement
  • Make all the content easily shareable within and outside the organization
  • Support two-way conversations within the workplace
  • Achieve a complete organizational and strategic alignment
  • Help employees keep important documents, messages and conversations in one place
  • Enable employees to have instant access to information on their mobile phones
  • Better filter and prioritize content delivery to prevent information overload 

From Strategy + Business 4/4/2019 • How to get your company’s people invested in transformation


Big change can’t happen without employee buy-in, which is easier to get if you’re an emotionally engaged leader.


From IMD 2/2018 • Transformation journeys: The reasons why and the art of how


From BCG 11/5/2020 • Learn from the Best in Organizational Transformation


A holistic communications approach ensures that the people with different roles are on track and connected.


To read about the first step in the series, visit The Art of Business Transformation