Inarticulate ramblings of a management consultant

the day to day experiences of a consultant operating in weird and wonderful client situations

Transformation – the new business as usual!

For several years, I’ve been drawing the same picture…the one which illustrates that the percentage of a company’s activities related to business as usual versus that related to what I call ‘special projects’ has been changing over the past ten years, in favour of the latter.  By special projects I mean:

  • mergers and acquisitions
  • joint ventures
  • new product launches
  • new territories expansion
  • significant change in strategy and subsequent implementation requirement
  • major systems led change

The change has been so dramatic that many organisations are suffering a digestion problem, what one might call transformation constipation. A major part of the issue behind this malaise is a chronic shortage of able and experienced programme and project management resource.

As an aside,  I would argue that with few exceptions, the institutionalisation of project management as a core functional skill set has failed so far. Given the amount of both CAPEX and OPEX dedicated to transformation activities, this lack of focus on dedicated capability in delivery  is, in my opinion, extraordinary and from an overall governance perspective, a real problem. The key impacted measure is ROI, a measure which seems to be in favour for deal related activities but not thus far for internal transformation activities.

Recently however, it’s become clear to me that my assumptions have been too narrow. The reality is that for companies operating in any sector which has some room for disruptive change through technology innovation, the rapidly increasing awareness of customers in terms of the competition, pricing, features and additional functionality, brand and reputation, is changing behaviours. The ‘stickability’ of existing relationships and therefore business as usual revenue streams is under increasing threat. It seems that the one of the only ways to continue to maintain business as usual revenues is through increasing investment in transformation activities, ie new product development and services innovation…all those things described above which companies find difficult to manage, govern and monitor such that they can make a decent return.

The phrase ‘change is the only constant’ has become very hackneyed in the past few years, but perhaps transformation really is the new BAU!

Categories: Change management, Complex transformation, Consulting, Mergers & acquisitions, Project Management, Transformation

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

2 replies

  1. Since the 20th Century came majority of organizations that exist today, have adopted their major responsibility as tasks or projects manager instead of ROI-driven and High Performing Organizations that only a handful ones are willing to practice.


    • Hi there, thanks for your note. I would agree that for external investment type activities such as M&A, there is a drive towards these being driven from a project perspective with reasonably well articulated (if not achieved!) synergies. However for internal projects, I have rarely seen a solid, well tracked ROI beyond what was put in the original business case. In my experience, this type of measure disappears pretty quickly from any benefit tracking done.


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