40 Transformation Tips and Pitfalls


Thank you to everyone that joined our first event “Design. Align. Inspire. How to Transform your Business”.

It was great to hear from people in the room about their own successes and failures. So many great stories about what has worked, and what has not worked so well.


For your reference we’ve noted a summary of the results from our own experiences, interviews, and the workshop:

Transformation tips:

  1. Start with Why
  2. Strategy before structure
  3. Bring stakeholders together early
  4. Be able to explain it in the lift
  5. Define the change – before and after
  6. Logical connection between the levers and the outcomes
  7. Tell the story – hearts & minds
  8. Strong and aligned executive sponsorship
  9. Review governance
  10. Plan to recover
  11. Embed the change
  12. Focus and prioritise.  Stop stuff!
  13. Small steps, not giant leaps - Fail fast
  14. With restructures – get in the detail
  15. Baseline early and measure often
  16. Focus on people
  17. Ask ‘Why’ 5 times
  18. Empower people
  19. Flip mindsets from loss, to creation and gain
  20. Align goals, interests and values
  21. Slow down to speed up
  22. Invest enough in projects
  23. Measure results over the long term
  24. Account for transition impacts when measuring benefits
  25. Communicate with authenticity and transparency
  26. Where there is uncertainty, provide the information available, such as timelines.
  27. Consider when to have difficult conversations individually or in group

The pitfalls to avoid:

  1. Complex models and packs
  2. Cost driving activity
  3. Structure before strategy
  4. Lack of focus
  5. Forgetting about emotions
  6. Competing interests
  7. Cumbersome processes
  8. Not telling your customers about your change
  9. Lack of authentic communication
  10. Commitment to sunk cost
  11. Excessive optimism
  12. Confirmation bias
  13. Group think

One of the favourite frameworks we shared was “The Four Doors of Change”.  You can see the TedxPerth video here:


I enjoyed discussing this model with a number of you. It seems that it resonates because it really helped illustrate the idea that sometimes change comes with loss.  When you break it down and understand the loss that people experience, you can better empathise and manage expectations.  Positively, the model also helps us to consider the gains (the things you get to do now that you couldn’t do before).  Communicating the benefits is a great way to help people through the change. A helpful reminder as well today that the most empowering benefits of change are often those discovered by the teams involved. Communication should be a two way street.

If there was one central theme that came through today, it was that too often, real human emotion and agency are often neglected during large transformations.  Starting with why, being clear on what is changing, and communicating with transparency and authenticity are the first steps to leading people through change effectively.

If you have any additional tips or pitfalls – please share in the comments.