Why are vacations usually more fun than transformation programs?
We don’t start a family vacation by getting in a car and driving, we start by deciding where we want to go and determining if we should drive, fly, or maybe take a cruise. We have a conversation about what kind of vacation we can afford and get input from the kids on where they would like to go. We then pull all this together into a plan with a clear destination, a way to get there and a price we are willing to pay for the experience. Unfortunately that is a lot more than can be said of many transformation programs. Too often they feel like a dream, or is it a nightmare, where we wake up on a plane headed we don’t know where with no idea how we got on board. But it is clear we are flying first class, so this must have been a really expensive ticket. How does that happen? Why does survey after survey of CEO’s, CIO’s and COO’s report failure rates for transformation programs greater than 50%, often citing unclear goals and failure to take into account organizational and process complexity up front as reasons for failure? Why do companies invest so much time, money and organization mindshare on leaps in technology or changes to organizational structure without a well-defined roadmap? Perhaps the answer lies in three factors that in combination represent a perfect storm of pressures on leaders today.