Posted: 15 Mar. 2021 5 min. read

Transformation. An imperative? A buzzword? A skill?

Transformation is one of those words; it means everything and nothing at the same time. How many times have you heard phrases like, “we need to transform our business” or “those who adapt survive?”

It is true, successful organisations adapt and change but it’s extremely hard to do. The good news is there are tools and techniques organisations can use to increase the chances of success.

Over the coming months, our team at Deloitte are going to share their thoughts on specific transformation topics. As I lead our North of England Consulting team I get the pleasure of kicking off that contribution.

Firstly, why are we writing these and why now?

The primary, and overwhelming reason, is because we’re passionate about transformation. As a consultant, transformation is my constant focus. Our reason for getting out of bed every morning is to help businesses, and wider society, thrive.

The second reason is because now is certainly the time that all regions across the UK need to recover and thrive. Forces such as digital, remote working, cyber, regulation and net-zero, to name just are few, are in play.

It’s a truism that change is constant, and the pace is accelerating. In the spring of last year a meme did the rounds asking, “who was responsible for your organisation’s digital transformation?” There were three options: CEO, CIO or COVID. COVID triumphed.

Whilst there is no single guidebook on successful transformations my colleagues and I have observed common traits:

  1. True transformation needs realistic ambition. There is always a decision to make about how bold you want to, and importantly can, be. Making that a conscious choice is critical, and it’s very personal to each organisation. Spending enough, but not too much, time is vital. Articulating and explaining that ambition then follows.
  2. Think big start small. There are many ways to achieve change. Do you go big bang? How much design and testing is needed before you act? Each transformation journey is different, and it requires skills to decide the right approach. That said, most successful transformations start with small changes, building momentum and learning through doing.
  3. Authenticity wins every time. Successful transformations are led by visible, authentic and accountable leaders. Incentivising leaders to collaborate, instead of protecting their traditional functions and silos, is critical. The ‘hero’ leader model rarely, if ever, works.
  4. Deliberate and structured. Transformation doesn’t happen just because you have an ambition. It takes skills and focus on things like blueprints, plans, governance and tools. You need the right people in the team to be successful, blending transformation experience with deep knowledge and passion for the organisation.
  5. Remembering the programme ends. Transformation activity varies greatly in size, complexity and approach but they are critical endeavours for any organisation. It’s easy to focus and get obsessed on the programme, which becomes an end in itself. It is important organisations create the culture, capability and confidence to sustain new ways of working and be better prepared to face ongoing change.

In fact, if you are interested in the topic, can I suggest the Elephant Trap Radar podcast? This is a short informal series on transformation by Deloitte partners Joel Bellman and Alex Massey.

In the upcoming blogs we’ll explore some of the challenges facing those who want to transform their organisations.

My favourite proverb is a great way to summarise the essence of transformation. Believed to originate in Japan, it has stood the test of time.

Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.

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Key contact

Richard Bray

Richard Bray


Richard leads our Consulting team in the North of England. He’s passionate about building amazing teams that influence the communities and businesses around them. He mainly works with the public sector, specialising in complex digital transformations which elevate the human experience through innovation, technology, and collaboration. When he left university, Richard spent a year or so exploring his options and building websites. He didn’t really know what he wanted to do so he gave consulting a try. Nearly two decades later and he’s still here as he found a job that he loves. Outside of work Richard love paperback crime thrillers and good wine!