Disruption, Friction, and Change: The Hallmarks of a True Transformation

Three leaders of McKinsey & Company’s Recovery & Transformation Services Practice recently discussed what a real business transformation looks like and how it brings about lasting change. Excepts from the exchange among McKinsey partners Michael Bucy, Stephen Hall and Doug Yakola follow.

Stephen Hall: A true transformation is disruptive. It doesn’t just work with the existing governance, the existing processes, the existing budgeting cycle, the existing ways of doing things…it’s going to create challenge and tension and friction in the organization. We view those characteristics as being necessary co-travelers to delivering a true transformation of the company…

I think executives are right to be skeptical about this term “transformation” and the opportunities that it can offer. The research that we [and many others] have done [consistently] show a…very high failure rate of these programs as reported by the companies themselves.

Michael Bucy: [Getting a transformation right is] all about avoiding leakage. So, at the aspiration stage, folks don’t go for their full potential. They go for seven out of ten of it. And then in the planning and execution, they let some things slide…And they do seven out of ten of it...

You have to, at each step of the process, go for the 100 percent and be able to realize the full potential of the business in order for the transformation to be successful.

Doug Yakola: …We have a very strong belief that you just don’t think differently and then everything’s OK. You have to actually put quality effort behind changing mind-sets, which then change behaviors in the organization going forward.