"Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

Steve Jobs

Once you have clarity on where you are and where you want to get to, the focus shifts to plotting a route forward.

In the real world, there’ll never be a single, perfect way to transform an organization (no matter what some business books claim). Instead, there’ll be many options to choose from, each with its own pros, cons and trade-offs. The appropriateness of each will be governed by factors, including:

  • How you expect the future to look for your business and the wider market
  • The timescales you’re working to and when you need to deliver results
  • The organization’s appetite for change and its commitment to altering everyday operations
  • And constraints around available resources

What this makes clear is that in determining the right design for your business transformation, you need to be able to model a range of different approaches.

Exploring alternative scenarios

We find the best way to do this is to think in terms of “what-if” scenarios. These help place your transformation activities into a highly practical context.

For example, you might explore: What if we moved everyone from our customer contact center in the heart of the city to one on the outskirts? Or, what if we moved to a hybrid or fully remote model? Or even automated major parts of the operation? What would the people and cost impacts be?

In transformations focused primarily on cost reduction, you could examine the effects of downsizing specific departments, functions or teams. Or you might look at what will happen if certain layers were removed altogether.

And for a business transformation rooted in accelerating innovation, your what-if scenario planning could dive into ways to free up resources, so that more time is given to new product development. Or to scaling up recruitment in specific areas. Or even pursuing a merger or acquisition opportunity.

Zeroing in on the right approach

By exploring and analyzing different options, you’ll be able to focus on the most promising ones for your objectives, budget and timescales.

You’ll be able to compare these scenarios to your current baseline for headcount and costs to understand how each is materially different.

And you’ll be able to explore how different scenarios will impact employee count, cost, depth, spans of control or other metrics.

Importantly, you should look to represent these changes visually, not simply as endless spreadsheets. This will allow everyone involved see what business transformation will really mean for the organization. It’ll enable people right across the business to have meaningful conversations about the way forward.