Business transformation is about creating high performing organizations

Identifying high performing commercial organizations may seem easy or even obvious - performance is defined by profit, market share, growth, and a few other financial metrics.  Quantifying public and government sector performance may, at first glance, appear to be more difficult and less obvious.  This is because the output generated by not-for-profit organizations is focused on producing value, rather than on the generation of a medium of exchange, which is later used to acquire value through a marketplace. 

In a way, the performance of not-for-profit organizations is easier to quantify than for profit organizations.  The direct impact can be realized without relying on Adam Smith's invisible hand.  Of course, without a marketplace, it is difficult to know whether the outcomes generated by a not-for-profit organization have a market price.  But market prices are not the only way to measure value.  Take the air you breathe for example, just because there is not a market price for air, does not mean that we do not value its existence.

The Army, like other not-for-profit organizations, is focused on generating valued outcomes.  The primary output of the Army is the generation of military force that can be used to advance the national interests of the American people (security, prosperity, and values).  If the organizations responsible for developing military force are inefficient or ineffective, just like in a for-profit business, the value generated is suboptimal.

While a for-profit business may end up going through bankruptcy when it fails to keep pace with its competitors, military failures can result in catastrophic consequences that impact the existence of a nation and its people.  

It is for this reason, that the business of the Army is of crucial importance to the American people.  From the tactics, techniques, and procedures of an Infantry team to the way new improvements and innovations are integrated across the enterprise, each Soldier, Civilian, and their family play an important role in ensuring the competitiveness of our Army and the future success of the American people.  

To ensure this success, the leaders and business managers of Army organizations need to be focused on creating the high performing organizations of the future.  This involves not only optimizing their business today, but also continuously seeking new ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of what they do.  This is what leaders do, and what business transformation is all about.


So, what can you do to transform your organization?

 To successfully manage and transform your organization, you first need to ensure that you understand the business of your organization.  Do you possess a clear understanding of your mission?  Are you aware of the scope of activities that are conducted day-to-day to accomplish this mission?  Can you articulate how each activity adds value?  Understanding how your organization is organized and operates is a good place to start.  Once you understand this, you will be in a much better position to identify opportunities to improve efficiency and effectiveness.  

Transformative leaders of high performing organizations establish clear data driven goals, accurate and informative metrics, and systems for gathering and analyzing data.  Institutionalizing transformative goals, informative metrics, and leveraging impactful data can enable continuous improvement.  A few quick tips that may help you along the way are listed below:

Routinely develop and update your plans

· Routinely develop and update plans that guide the activities of your organization

· Include key decision makers, stakeholders, and those implementing the plans in development and review

· Focus plans on achieving high impact goals 

· Make allowance for the cost and impact of transforming the organization 

Manage for effectiveness and performance

· Select metrics that can measure the effectiveness and performance of the organization’s business plans

· Periodically monitor the effectiveness and performance of the organization and take action to ensure plans are being executed or otherwise modified.

· Adjust the plan effectiveness and performance metrics as required 

Focus talent and tenure on mission accomplishment

· Task and resource organizations to implement plans and projects, rather than tasking an individual leader.

· Manage the rotation of personnel to ensure continuity in the implementation of plans and projects 

· Assign leaders to activities or projects that can be executed during their tenure

Acknowledge the real impact of decisions and decision-makers

· Always ensure the long-term interests of the organization are considered when making short-term decisions projects 

· Ensure decisions do not unnecessarily negatively impact the activities of other businesses in the enterprise.

While some leaders follow or even lead these practices, others fail to understand their importance and struggle to implement them.  Plans are often developed but not managed through execution.  Goals are often intangible and difficult to measure.  Performance measurements may be meaningless and inconsequential; focused on checking a block or irrelevant indicators.  Succession planning may be non-existent as key leaders rotate to new assignments before they can complete what they started.  Each of these factors on their own would challenge any would-be high performing organization.  Combined with other pressures and incentives, they eventually lead to paralysis and obsolescence.  The many challenges leaders face when trying to create a high performing organization must be acknowledged and addressed before real improvements, innovations, and business transformation can be achieved.  





It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.

- Charles Darwin -