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Hein J.M. Knaapen January 29 2024 7 min read

Riding the Storm: Unraveling the Mystery Behind Transformation Failure

As a CEO, guiding your company through transformative changes is like navigating a ship in turbulent seas.

Whether driven by a quest for improved performance, reacting to sudden downturns, or realizing the stark underperformance of your company, initiating a transformation is filled with both hope and uncertainty. Yet, despite the best intentions, these endeavors often don't reach their intended goals. It begs the question: why do these well-intentioned transformations so often veer off course?


The Tale of CEO John's Transformation Odyssey

Imagine you're in John's shoes, the CEO of a struggling tech company. He steps in with a bold vision to revitalize the company, introducing sweeping changes and launching initiatives aimed at a complete cultural overhaul. But as time ticks on, the anticipated turnaround remains just out of reach. This scenario might sound all too familiar.


The Pitfall: Losing Sight of the True Objective

John's situation is not unique. Think about it: have you ever found yourself, like John, focusing more on a flurry of activities rather than addressing the core business needs? It's a common trap. In fact, McKinsey & Company found that only 26% of transformation initiatives succeed in truly improving performance and equipping the organization for the long haul1. So, what differentiates these successful transformations?


Unpacking the Value Agenda: Let's Dive Deeper

Here's where the 'Value Agenda' comes into play. It's more than just a buzzword; it's a strategic pivot that demands you look at your organization and ask, "Where does the true value lie?" This isn't about broad strokes; it's about a deep understanding of your business and making the tough choices. It's about not just doing things right but doing the right things.


The Disproportionate Impact of Key Roles

Diving into the Value Agenda, an intriguing fact comes to light: a small number of roles, maybe just 15 to 20, disproportionately impact your company's value creation. This insight, supported by a study from KPMG2, can be a game-changer. In your company, can you pinpoint these pivotal roles? Imagine the impact of channeling your resources to where they matter most.


John's Transformation Triumph

After refocusing on the Value Agenda, John witnessed a transformative shift. The company didn't just improve incrementally; it began a path to sustained growth. It's more than a success story; it's about the potency of strategic, focused action.


Could a similar focus be the catalyst for change in your organization?


Charting a Course to Success

Your journey as a CEO toward transformation success isn't about trying to cover all bases. It's about a laser-focused strategy centered on the Value Agenda. Think of it as re-envisioning your organization, where each decision and action is meticulously evaluated for its impact on value creation. It's recognizing that in the vast landscape of corporate actions, only a select few truly drive significant value.


Expert Navigation for Your Transformation Journey

Navigating the nuances of the Value Agenda and aligning your efforts accordingly can be daunting. As CEOs and CHROs, a little guidance can go a long way. For a deeper exploration into crafting a successful transformation strategy that truly aligns with your value creation goals, consider reaching out. We offer bespoke consultancy and resources designed to guide your organization on its transformative journey.

[1] McKinsey & Company. (2018). "Success Rates of Transformation Efforts."  
[2] KPMG. (2020). "Focusing on Key Roles to Drive Transformation Success."

Hein J.M. Knaapen

Hein is an internationally recognized expert on HR innovation, talent development, and organizational capability building. As an advisor and mentor, he aims to guide leaders toward maximizing the return on their talent investments.

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