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When a company approaches business transformation as a tool that is aimed at an endpoint, things can quickly go wrong. The problem doesn’t reside within the concept of embracing business transformation so much as with the application itself.

If you approach business transformation within your company as a means to accomplish a goal, once you’ve realized that goal, the need to change will end. If this happens, you’ll quickly find your business atrophying as the world races on without you. Instead, it’s important for modern businesses to adopt an “always adapting” mindset aimed at using business transformation to stay ahead of the competition and to perpetually succeed in the future.

Why business transformation matters

It’s difficult to pursue a policy within an organization if you don’t truly believe that it’s essential for success. With that in mind, it’s worth asking why business transformation matters in the first place.

What business transformation means

The term “business transformation” is a bit nebulous. However, you can typically reduce the term to one of two meanings:

  • Operational model transformation focuses on core transformation that alters the way that your company does business. A company shifting from selling hard copies of software to providing software as a service (SaaS) is a good example of an operational model transformation.
  • Strategic transformation focuses on shifting the very essence of what a company does. Microsoft’s shift from hardware to the cloud is a good example of strategic transformation.

Ideally, when pursuing genuine, sustainable short- and long-term business transformation, both of these should be pursued simultaneously.

The evolutionary power of technology

Of course, a proper definition doesn’t quite answer the question “why?” Why does a business need any kind of transformation of this nature, let alone a continual stream of it?

While there are numerous forces at work, the primary drive behind most of the urgency to transform in the modern business climate comes from technology. Everything from e-commerce to vending machines is undergoing a dramatic and constant evolution due to ever-improving technology.

This relentless improvement impacts and affects both internal business operations — like the shift to remote work — as well as the markets in which they exist — such as the shift to e-commerce or the rise of the gig economy.

Why resisting change is deadly

The constant pressure to adapt and change to new expectations can be overwhelming. However, a lack of reacting and an unwillingness to be continually changing can be disastrous to a company over the long term.

For instance, Kodak dominated the film industry for decades. They constantly refined film, mass-produced products at an affordable cost, and were willing to transform within their existing operations if it helped their business. However, when digital photography came along, the strategic transformation required to pivot into an entirely new “essence” of business was deemed unnecessary. Left in the dust as the world adopted the new technology, the company declared bankruptcy not long afterward.

The point is, if you want to find continual success, you absolutely must adopt business transformation, not just as a temporary tool, but as an ongoing strategy.

How to create a strategy of continuous organizational change

It’s tempting to consider business transformation simply as “digital transformation.” Make your company e-commerce friendly and you’re good to go, right? Wrong. For real business transformation to stick, you need to have a plan in place:

  • Establishing strategic vision: You can’t transform efficiently if you don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish. Create a vision of how business transformation will look in your enterprise right from the get-go.
  • Leading by example: Transformational leadership, motivating your staff by example to align with your company’s strategies, is a critical leadership skill that enables ongoing business transformation.
  • Cultivating a company culture: Constantly transforming to new markets is exhausting, and a transformation-positive company culture can help to boost morale and encourage embracing a positive attitude throughout the continual change.
  • Considering who you hire and how to retain them: Your employees must be willing to buy into a company culture of adaptation, innovation, and constant refinement. They must also be compensated well for their efforts with fair wages that allow them to live comfortably in their geographic region and still focus on their work.
  • Staying safe: With technology driving so much of the changes, it’s imperative that companies make efforts to protect all of their employees’ online activity from cybercrime, whether they’re in-office staff, remote workers, or even employees on the go.

While there are other concerns,  these serve as a good starting point to set your business transformation goals in motion.

Embracing continuous business transformation

In the 21st-century, if you want your organization to thrive, you must be willing to acknowledge what works today may not work tomorrow. In addition, you have to be forward-thinking, always looking for the next great development that will impact your field and provide opportunities for your company to gain an edge over your competitors.

If you can maintain healthy business transformation as an ongoing strategy and not simply an endpoint, you’ll survive and thrive in any environment.

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