Optimising Transformation Success for Businesses

We comment on EY’s and the University of Oxford’s exploration of the emotional cost of failed transformations and what it takes to get them right.

Research from EY and the University of Oxford's Said Business School explores the importance of transformation to an organisation's success, and how it can be harnessed to drive sustainable growth.

Transformation is perceived as vital by EY as we are essentially living in ‘transformative times’. From climate change to the recent global health crisis and geopolitical tensions, as well as the supply chain difficulties that arise as a result, there appears to be little stability and consistency as of the last decade. 

This means that businesses can no longer simply anticipate – they should react. ‘Transformation’ is that reactionary phase. 

Here, we look at the main learnings businesses can take from this research, analysing the complex factors that influence a transformation’s success or failure.

Creating a suitable environment for a successful transformation

A transformation begins with the figurehead. A leader should embody the practices they preach. This is critical in order to minimise the risk of hypocrisy and maximise employees’ engagement with the process.

You should select the appropriate personnel to assist you through the transformation. Understand what skills are required to boost efficiency and select a diverse array of individuals with different attributes.

The importance of creating a uniformed vision

Research shows that 50% of those involved in successful business transformations said the vision energised and inspired them to go the extra mile. 

EY research contends that the optimal time to undergo change is when results are positive, sales are increasing, and morale is high. Transformative changes can often implore employees to be more productive. 

Try and exhibit new perspectives, ask for the opinions of those below you and those working in external industries, so that you construct this new vision upon the basis of diverse perceptions. Your view may be limited, meaning those around you can help fulfil your blind spots. 

Provide substantial reasoning as to the ‘why’ of the transformation: allowing your employees to find, and subsequently fulfil their purpose within the transformation is essential in providing the foundations for the success of this vision. This will optimise the efficacy of the vision as it will be a contributory, as opposed to an individual one.

Is patience really a virtue, or is equilibrium the answer?

In order to establish an effective transformation, a great deal of time and thought is required.

The EY article focuses on ‘patience’, drawing correlations between patience and composure, easing feelings of emotional restraint such as anxiety and stress. 

Whilst embracing a more humane approach can help you prioritise emotional wellbeing, it is equally imperative that you prevent standards from plummeting, which could happen if you establish a seemingly utopic working environment. 

Speed of operation will at some point be required to replace patience in order to guarantee results and efficacy. Constant resistance or allowance for anything sub-optimal will likely inhibit the transformational change. 

Essentially, allow for independence of thought and action and provide empathy and compassion to nurture the developmental process.

The benefits of effective delegation and resourceful job-title creation

Ensure that decision-making is delegated as low as possible within the organisational structure of your business. This is vital in enabling frontline teams to deliver results proficiently.

EY outlines that effective coordination within the ‘Project management office’ (PMO) drives transformation by gradually shifting capabilities away from the legacy business and towards the funding organisation.

In turn, discipline will be instilled surrounding future strategies and business ideals, ensuring that the prospective vision is more likely to be fulfilled.

Additionally, establishing a presence of autonomy within your business requires a mindset shift amongst management. Business leaders that adopt an autocratic approach should ultimately reconsider their position.

Further, failure should be encouraged so that mistakes are not replicated. Management should specify that mistakes will not affect their employees’ job security or damage their status. Create an acceptance around failure, but not an emphasis upon it. Potentially enlarge the workforce by importing various expertise in management to help embed this new approach.

The importance of implementing automation as the driving force behind the transformation

The importance of automation in the modern-day corporate world cannot be undermined. Effective automation allows for smooth and effective communication, it shows adaptability of the business, helps enhance brand image, and creates easier accessibility for consumers.

EY research conveys that technology was the second most prominent obstacle that leaders endure during transformative processes. This further contends that there’s been a shift in how organisations conceptualise technology.

EY asserts that it’s not just about implementing the right-working technology but also understanding its purpose in contributing towards the success of the business and the prospective transformation. Technology remains a constant innovation where alterations are relentless, making maintaining pace difficult.

Ensuring that the implemented technology complements the businesses ethos is essential in optimising employee engagement and emotional investment within the transformation. Technology can ultimately be utilised to bring the hypothesised ideals into a more realistic vision.

Embrace a collaborative workforce dynamic

As a leader, you will need to develop a culture that fosters connectivity and creativity. Provide a safe space where new ways of working — both digital and agile — can emerge to nurture innovation, engagement and fulfilling work.

Leaders need to construct a platform in which workers can feel as an integral component of the transformative process, not just a contributor.

By integrating workers in aspects of critical decision-making, it is likely that a broad common perspective will emerge between management and workers, making the transformative process a more synchronous one where all are aware of their respective roles and responsibilities.

By assigning tasks to groups of employees you are not only improving communication, but helping forge inter-personal relationships within the workforce, thus building a more comfortable and sustainable environment and culture.

Create groups of employees and encourage a form of group learning. This should boost employee engagement and improve communication within the business, whereby staff are effectively trained to communicate and resolve issues through collaborative working methods.


Overall, in a successful transformation, support leads to positive outcomes. Support is required at the optimal time of the transformation to ensure that any sense of negativity is eliminated.

It is equally as imperative to empower employees by making them aware of the reasoning behind the changing dynamic within the workforce and any changes that are set to arise. 

Nobody likes change, which can often be perceived as a threat. It is therefore critical that you implement strategies to motivate your workforce to keep moving towards achieving the greater objective. 


As a leading transformative partner and business consultancy with 20 years of experience in helping businesses build success, Champions can take care of all aspects of your business’ growth journey.  

Being in charge of all moving parts, we control the results, delivering capital value growth with bespoke strategies and putting our clients’ interests first.  

Whether you know where you want to be but have no idea how to get there or simply do not have the time, Champions will take on your next strategy project for you. Enquire here now!